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THE ATTORNE Y-GENERAL.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE,
Washington, D. C., December 1, 1894. To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Con
The business and affairs of the Department of Justice during the year ending December 1, 1894, have been in some particulars of unu. sual interest and importance.
Attention was called in the last annual report to the extent and magnitude of the jurisdiction of the Department and to the rapidly increasing volume of business transacted by the Federal courts. It was shown, for example, that between July 1, 1885, and July 1, 1893, the number of criminal prosecutions pending in the circuit and district courts of the United States had about trebled, while the expenses of the United States courts during the same period, exclusive of judges' salaries, had nearly doubled. If now the years 1893 and 1894 be compared with reference to the same features, the constant and continuous growth of the business of the Federal courts is plainly manifested. July 1, 1893, the criminal prosecutions pending in the United States circuit and district courts amonated to 9,385, while the expenses of the United States courts for the fiscal year 1893 were $4,528,676.87. July 1, 1894, the criminal prosecutions pending in the same courts were 10,370 in number, while the like expenses for the fiscal year 1894 amounted to $4,551,373.61.
The Supreme Court, through the arduous labors of its members and the skillful management of its business by their chief, may be expected at no distant day to be as distinguished for the promptitude with which decisions are rendered as it once was for the delays inevitably accompanying them. As shown by the subjoined table, at the close of its term for the year 1890 the court had 1,800 cases on its docket, of which 1,177 were cases previously docketed, while 623 had been docketed at that term. At the close of its term for the year 1893, on the other hand, the cases on its docket numbered 1,214, of which 934 were cases previously docketed, while only 280 were docketed during that term.
Unless some unforeseen cause arrests this progress, the Supreme Court in the course of a few years will be able to dispose of its docket in a session of two or three months, while the justices will be able to devote a reasonable amount of time to the circuit courts of appeals and to thus inaterially add to the efficiency and prestige of those courts.
The docket of the Supreme Court at the close of the last term, as compared with the docket at the close of the term next preceding, shows a decrease of 220 cases. At the close of the October term, 1892, there remained undisposed of on the appellate docket 934 cases, and upon the original docket 7 cases, making a total of 941 cases. Of this number 503 were disposed of during the October term, 1893; and of these, were on the appellate and 3 on the original docket.
The number of cases actually considered by the court was 362, of which 195 were argued orally and 167 submitted on printed arguments. Of the 500 appellate cases disposed of, 165 were affirmed, 113 reversed, 119 dismissed, 76 settled by the parties and dismissed, in 6 cases questions certified to the court were answered, and 21 cases were denials of petitions for writs of certiorari under the act of March 3, 1891.
The total number of cases in which the United States was a party, or had a substantial interest, disposed of at the October term, 1893, was 106. Of these the United States was appellant or plaintiff in error in 42 cases and appellee or defendant in error in 58 cases (1 case being cross writs of error), in 1 case was petitioner and in 2 cases respondent in applications for certiorari, and 4 cases were certifications of questions.
Of the 42 cases appealed, etc., by the United States 18 were decided in its favor and 12 against, 4 cases were dismissed by the United States,
4 1 was stricken from the docket, 6 reversed by stipulation, and 1 remanded by the court in conformity with a resolution of Congress. In addition, questions in 4 cases certified were answered in favor of the United States.
Of the 58 cases in which the United States was appellee, etc., 28 were determined in favor of and 13 against the United States; 10 cases were dismissed by the appellants, etc.; 5 cases were dismissed by
the court for failure of the appellants, etc., to comply with the rules; 1 was reversed by stipulation, and 1 abated.
Of the above 106 cases, 18 were appeals from the Court of Claims, 10 of which were taken by the United States. Of these latter, 5 were decided in favor of and 3 against the United States, 1 case was dismissed by the United States, and 1 reversed by stipulation; while of the 8 cases in which the United States was appellee, 7 were decided in its favor and 1 against.
Of the 106 United States cases disposed of, 28 were criminal, of which 13 were decided in favor of the United States and 10 against; 1 was affirmed for want of prosecution; 2 dismissed by the court for noncompliance with the rules; 1 dismissed by the plaintiff in error, and 1 abated by the death of the plaintiff in error. Seventeen cases were capital, of which 8 were decided in favor of and 9 against the United States.
Two cases were appeals, etc., from circuit courts of appeals, 1 of which was by the United States. Both were decided in its favor. In addition, 1 application by the United States for certiorari to the circuit court of appeals was granted, and 2 applications by the other side in United States cases were denied.
The above does not include 1 habeas corpus case and 2 applications for leave to file petition in mandamus on the original docket, which were decided in favor of the United States.
Of the whole number of cases appealed, etc., 53 were decided in favor of and 25 against the United States.
SUPREME COURT LITIGATION.
Of the cases heard and decided in the Supreme Court the past year, four may be mentioned as of special interest. In the Covington Bridge case, where a corporation invested with identical franchises and charged with identical duties by the concurrent legislation of two States had built a bridge across the Ohio River, the majority of the court held that traffic across the river was interstate commerce; that the bridge was an instrument of such commerce; and that the bridge tolls could be regulated by Congress alone and could not be fixed by a State, even in the absence of legislation on the subject by Congress. The minority opinion contains the interesting suggestion that the original acts of incorporation constituted a contract between the corporation and both States, which could not be altered by the one State without the consent of the other. Barden v. Northern Pacific Railroad Company raised the question whether, by the land grant to that company, all mineral lands other than iron or coal were reserved exclusively to the United States—a question involving immense pecuniary interests and decided favorably to the United States. Reagan v. Farmers' Loan and Trust Company put in issue the rate-making power of the railroad commissioners of Texas in a suit brought against them by a trustee for bond