Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1905

Abstract

A decision rendered by the Supreme Court of the United States on the 8th day of last May seems to mark the elimination of the doctrine of situs as a jurisdictional question in garnishment and attachment proceedings in the United States. Justices Harlan and Day dissented, and yet there is little danger that the question will again be opened; and in view of the conclusion reached, all lovers of plain, simple justice will rejoice that at last that disturber of peace and worker of iniquity in the commercial world has been deprived of its power to make the honest debtor pay twice while aiding the dishonest one to escape making any payment at all. Especially will the writers on the subject who have seen and lamented the evils of the doctrine rejoice in this happy conclusion of the whole matter. From this point of vantage it is interesting to review the rise and progress of this doctrine, and to contemplate the position in which we now find ourselves. The idea that a debt, a mere obligation to pay, is a thing fixed in space, capable of being seised and held in pawn with a certain and ascertainable location, may not be a modern invention; but it never received any judicial sanction except in the United States, so far as we are able to ascertain. The notion would seem to be a harmless one in itself; and most men would say it is a matter of no importance how it might be determined, any more than the question as to how many angels could stand on the point of a pin. The difficulty appears when the unfortunate debtor is summoned in two courts at the same time or successively to answer for the same debt, and each court refuses to recognize the proceedings in the other as any defense, and each compels him to pay to it in full, on the ground that the debt is there and not in the other court.


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