New York Judicial Battle of James Roosevelt and John Edmonds

face of a prisoner

In New York in 1852, John W. Edmonds, a judge on the Court of Appeals of New York State, and James I. Roosevelt, a judge on the Supreme Court of New York State, engaged in a judicial battle. George Templeton Strong provided a colorful depiction of the conflict:

The bench is becoming a beer garden. Roosevelt and Edmonds overruling each other and nullifying each other’s orders and rulings, {hurling} opinions at each other about usurpation and interference and so forth, all of which comes naturally of our delectable new judiciary system.^

Here’s a contemporary legal account of the battle:

In Titus v. Hay (not reported), Roosevelt, J., at special term, in January, 1852, ordered judgment of foreclosure and sale. The decision was entered by the clerk, and by him endorsed on the back of the order. On a motion to set aside the order for sale (the judgment), it was held by Edmonds, J., at special term (28th February, 1852), that the provisions of this (267th) section, requires that the decision should either be in the handwriting of the judge or signed by him; and that the entry of the decision on the minutes by the clerk, or the filing of the decree in open court, under the direction of the judge, was not in compliance with the provisions of the code; and the judgment was set aside. On the 2d of March, 1852, Roosevelt, J., without any application of the parties, rescinded the order of Edmonds, J., and gave the parties liberty to appeal to the general term. The question was argued before the general term (Edwards, Mitchell, and Roosevelt, JJ.); and it decided (March 13, 1852) that the entry of the judgment was sufficient, and overruled the opinion of Edmonds, J. The curious reader may, on reference to the New York Herald of the 1st, 3d, and 14th of March, 1852, find the details of this case.^

Another account of the conflict can be found in New York Daily Times, Mar. 3, 1852, p. 1.

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