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A State may provide a new remedy to enforce an existing contract. Wheat v. State, Minor, 199; Anon. 2 Stew. 228.
A State legislature may repeal a statute under which a contract is illegal, and authorize a suit thereon. Milne v. Huber, 3 McLean, 212; Hill v.
3 Smith, Morris, 70; Johnson v. Bentley, 16 Ohio, 97; Lewis v. McElvain, 16 Ohio, 347
A statute which merely gives a remedy at law where it could previously have been made available in equity only, or vice versa, may consistently with the Constitution, operate retrospectively so as to embrace contracts already made. Paschall v. Whitsell, 11 Ala. 472 ; Baugher v. Nelson, 9 Gill, 299; Bethune v. Dougherty, 30 Geo. 770.
Every stipulation for a particular remedy is, in its own nature, conditional upon the lawful continuance of the process. The State is no party to the contract. It is bound to afford adequate process for the enforcement of rights, but it does not tie its own hands as to the modes by which it will administer justice. Those, from necessity, belong to the supreme power to prescribe, and their continuance is not the subject of contract between private parties. It may, therefore, abolish a particular remedy, although the parties have stipulated for it in their contract. Conkey v. Hart, 14 N. Y. 22.
If the covenant in a mortgage applies to the remedy and regulates it, fixing its terms and its credit, and there is no law forbidding it at the time it is made, no subsequent statute can alter or change those terms. Pool v. Young, 7 Mon. 587; Bronson v. Kinzie, i How. 311.
In time of war, commotion or epidemics, circumstances may imperiously demand for a while even a total suspension of judicial proceedings. In any time obnoxious to the due administration of justice, it is the duty and within the power of the legislature to pass laws to avert or diminish the consequences of the general calamity, and a law called for by such circumstances, and fairly intended to meet the exigency of the day, can not be properly classed among those which impair the obligation of contracts. Johnson v. Duncan, 3 Mart. 531; Ex parte Pollard, 40 Ala. 77.
3 The obligation of a contract and the rights of a party under it, may, in effect, be destroyed by denying a remedy altogether, or may be seriously impaired by burdening the proceedings with new conditions and restrictions so as to make the remedy hardly worth pursuing. Penrose v. Reed, 2 Grant, 472; Western Saving Fund v. Philadelphia, 31 Penn. 175; Bronson v. Kinzie, i How. 311; McCracken v. Hayward, 2 How. 608; Riggs v. Martin, 5 Ark. 506; Commercial Bank v. Chambers, 16 Miss. 9; Mundy v. Monroe, 1 Mich. 68; Curran v. State, 15 How. 304; S. C. 12 Ark. 321; Oatman v. Bond, 15 Wis. 20.
The right and the remedy, in the theory of all practical and just government, must stand or fall together. To deny the right is necessarily to deny the remedy; and to admit the right but deny the remedy, is to impair the right and to render it either partially or wholly inoperative. It is more consistent to deny both the right and the consequent remedy, than to admit the right and then, in the face of this admission, deny its inseparable incident. As the Constitution intended to prohibit the legislature from defeating a certain end, it does not matter how or by what means or in what manner this end is sought to be defeated, the statute is equally unconstitutional. If the purpose is defeated, the manner in which it is done is unimportant, and can not change the substantial result. The only end and object of a contract is the doing or not doing the particular thing mentioned. The practical result is the only end aimed at by the parties, and the obligation of the contract is the vital binding element that secures this practical consummation. A civil right without a remedy never can exist in the practical theory of government. It is not the intent of government to establish mere abstract and inoperative principles. A dormant right that can not be enforced is no right at all. To say that the law will give a party a judgment and yet refuse him an execution to enforce it, is to give him the shadow and withhold the substance. Robinson v. Magee, 9 Cal. 84.
A law absolutely recalling the power which a creditor enjoys of compelling his debtor in foro legis to perform the obligation of his contract, is a law destroying the obligation of the contract in foro legis, since a right without a legal remedy ceases to be a legal right. It impairs the obligation by reducing an obligation both in foro legis and in foro conscientiæ to an obligation in foro conscientiæ only—a legal and moral right to a moral right only. A law destroying or impairing the remedy is as unconstitutional as one affecting the right in the same manner, for in foro legis the effect of both laws is the same. Johnson v. Duncan, 3 Mart. 531.
Nothing is more terial to the obligation of a contract than the means of its enforcement. The ideas of validity and remedy are inseparable, and both are parts of the obligation which is guaranteed by the Constitution against impairment. Walker v. Whitehead, 16 Wall. 314; S. C. 43 Geo. 537; Von Hoffman v. Quincy, 4 Wall. 535.
The remedy is incident to the contract. Although a party may have no right under the contract to any particular remedy, yet he has a right at all times to some adequate and available remedy to enforce it. Coffman v. Bank, 40 Miss. 29
A State is no more permitted to impair the efficacy of a contract by changing the remedy, than to attack its vitality in any other manner. Walker v. Whitehead, 16 Wall. 314; S. C. 43 Geo. 537.
A judgment creates a contract, but is only on the side of the defendant, who thus acknowledges or assumes upon himself a debt which may be
made the ground of an action. But, on the side of the plaintiff the necessity of resorting to certain means of enforcing the judgment is not an obligation arising out of contract, but one imposed upon him by the laws of the country, and hence the remedy may be changed. Livingston v. Moore, 7 Pet. 469; Williams v. Waldo, 4 III. 264; Grosvenor v. Chesley, 48 Me. 369; Sprott v. Reid, 3 G. Greene, 489.
A law regulating judgments and executions can not be considered as a law which enters into the nature of contracts, or which the parties have i in view when they contract. A statute which deprives a judgment creditor of his judgment lien which was acquired by the recovery of the judgment alone, does not impair the obligation of contracts. McCormick v. Alexander, 2 Ohio, 285; Bank v. Longworth, 1 McLean, 35; Curry v. Landers, 35 Ala. 280; Daily v. Burke, 28 Ala. 328; Livingston v. Moore, 7 Pet. 469.
A law affecting judgments not rendered on a contract is valid, for the obligation created by such judgments is an obligation imposed by law and not an obligation of a contract made between the parties. Sprott v. Reid, 3 G. Greene, 489.
A statute may provide that a case shall not be tried at the return term, but at a subsequent term, thus allowing a parlance term between the return of the writ and the trial term, for the legislature may fix the time and mode of trial. Woods v. Buie, 5 How. (Miss.) 285.
5 The power to limit or extend the time for answering, or within which any other step in an action shall be taken, is and must be conceded. The only limit or qualification to its exercise is that the legislature shall confine their action within the bounds of reason and justice, and that they shall not so prolong the time within which legal proceedings are to be had, as to render them futile and useless in the hands of the creditor, or seriously impair his rights or securities. Von Baumbach v. Bade, 9 Wis. 559.
A statute changing the time for holding the court does not impair the obligation of a contract, although the laws of the State require an indorsee to sue the maker of a promissory note, at the first term held after its nonpayment. Rathbone v. Bradford, i Ala. 312.
A statute providing for a delay in the time of trial is valid. Ex parte Pollard, 40 Ala. 77.
A statute permitting either party to give in evidence the consideration and the value thereof at any time, and the intention of the parties as to the particular currency in which payment was to be made, and the value of such currency at any time, and directing that the verdict and judgment shall be on principles of equity, is valid. Robeson v. Brown, 63 N. C. 554; King v. W. & W. R. R. Co. 66 N. C. 277 ; Slaughter v. Culpepper, 35 Geo. 25; Taylor v. Flint, 35 Geo. 124; Rutland v. Copes, 15 Rich. 84;
Kirtland v. Molton, 41 Ala. 548 ; Tarleton v. Southern Bank, 41 Ala. 722; Herbert v. Easton, 43 Ala. 547.
A statute which allows the parties to show by parol evidence what the understanding was in regard to the kind of currency in which the contract was solvable, is valid, for it facilitates the means of ascertaining what the contract was. Woodfin v. Slader, Phillips, 200.
A State law providing that either party to a contract made during a civil war may give in evidence the consideration and value thereof, and the intention of the parties as to the particular currency in which payment was to be made, and the value of such currency, and that judgment shall be on principles of equity, is valid. Slaughter v. Culpepper, 35 Geo. 25.
A statute allowing the parties to give in evidence the consideration of the contract, the amount and value of the property owned by the debtor at the time the contract was made, the destruction or loss thereof, and in what manner it was destroyed or lost, and giving the jury the power to reduce the amount of the debt according to the equities of the case, and render such verdict as appears just and equitable, is valid. Cutts v. Hardee, 38 Geo. 350.
A statute of a State which permits an inquiry to be made into the consideration of a sealed instrument, and which was in force at the time of the execution of the contract in another State, does not impair the obligation of the contract, for the lex fori controls. Williams v. Haines, 27 Iowa, 251.
A statute passed after the execution of a tax deed, which enacts that the deed shall not be presumptive evidence of the regularity of the sale, is valid. Hickox v. Tallman, 38 Barb. 608.
The legislature can not cut off or destroy the rights of a bona fide holder for value of commercial paper by changing the rules of pleading or the laws of evidence. Cornell v. Hichens, 11 Wis. 353.
A statute which makes a protest of a promissory note evidence of the facts therein stated is valid, for it only affects the mode of proceeding. The legislature may prescribe what shall and what shall not be evidence of a fact, whether it be in writing or oral, and it makes no difference whether it be in reference to contracts existing at the time or prospectively. Fales v. Wadsworth, 23 Me. 553.
A statute dispensing with the necessity of proving the names of the individual partners in a suit against a firm is valid. Ballard v. Ridgley, Morris, 27.
A statute dispensing with the necessity of proving the signature to a written instrument in an action against the maker, unless he files a denial of the same under oath, is valid. Ingraham v. Dooley, Morris, 28.
A statute making parties competent witnesses in their own behalf is valid. Ralston v. Lothain, 18 Ind. 303; Neass v. Mercer, 15 Barb. 318.
The legislature may change the rules of evidence so as to affect prior contracts. People v. Mitchell, 45 Barb. 208.
A statute providing that no judgment shall be entered against a municipal corporation, except upon proof that the amount sought to be recoveered still remains unexpended in the treasury to the credit of the appropriation for the specific object or purpose under the claim sued for, is void. Wood v. New York, 6 Robt. 463.
Where the law at the time of the sale makes a tax deed prima facie evidence of title, a subsequent statute may provide that secondary evidence of the deed shall not be prima facie evidence of the regularity of the sale. Roby v. City, 64 Ill. 447.
An act which merely accelerates the remedy, or gives a more summary remedy in case of a default in the performance of a contract, is valid. The legislature is not bound to continue the same forms and the same system of courts and proceedings for the accommodation of debtors or creditors. Stoddard v. Smith, 5 Binn. 355; Grubbs v. Harris, i Bibb, 567; Vanzant v. Waddell, 2 Yerg. 260; Livingston v. Moore, 7 Pet. 469; Rathbone v. Bradford, 1 Ala. 312; Maynes v. Moore, 16 Ind. 116; Hopkins v. Jones, 22 Ind. 310; Webb v. Moore, 25 Ind. 4; Smith v. Bryan, 34 III. 264; Wheat v. State, Minor, 199; Citizens' Bank v. Degnoodt, 25 La. Ann. 628.
A statute authorizing an attachment may apply to causes of action existing before its passage. Coosa River Steamboat Co. v. Barclay, 30 Ala.
A law taking away the remedy by attachment is valid. Leathers v. Shipbuilders' Bank, 40 Me. 386; Bigelow v. Pritchard, 38 Mass. 169; Danley v. State Bank, 15 Ark. 16; Allis v. State Bank, 15 Ark. 19; Krebs v. State Bank, 15 Ark. 19.
A statute allowing an attachment to be issued and laid in the hands of the stockholders, without previously exhausting the assets of the bank, is valid. Smith v. Bryan, 34 III. 264.
An attachment law does not impair the obligation of the contract between the garnishee and the debtor, but merely provides that the former shall pay the money to a creditor of the latter, and thereby be discharged therefrom. Philbrick v. Philbrick, 39 N. H. 468; Klaus v. City, 34 Wis. 628.
- A statute permitting amendments in proceedings by attachment, which applies to pending as well as prospective suits is constitutional, for a bondsman assumes his responsibility subject to various amendments of the writ