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decided: January 20, 1896.



Author: Fuller

[ 160 U.S. Page 636]

 MR. CHIEF JUSTICE FULLER, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court.

[ 160 U.S. Page 637]

     The proceedings in the state court were ordinary and not executory, and in the Circuit Court the petition stood as a bill in equity to foreclose a mortgage. The decree of November 6, 1886, was a final decree, and the execution may be regarded as the equivalent of a direction to a master or commissioner to make sale in the enforcement thereof. Under the civil code and code of practice of Louisiana judicial sales are conducted by the sheriff or other public officer in the manner minutely described, and adjudicated to the purchaser, who thereupon becomes the owner of the article adjudged. Civil Code, Art. 2601 to Art. 2621; Code of Prac. 663 et seq. But in an equity foreclosure in a Circuit Court, while the requirements of the state law should be complied with and the forms of proceeding pursued as nearly as practicable, it is proper for the officer who makes the sale to make a report or return to the court for confirmation. Resistance to such confirmation may be made, under circumstances, and this sometimes results in the setting aside of the sale and an order for a resale. But the scope of these pleadings was much wider. To the confirmation of the sale the defendant, indeed, interposed objections, waiving any formal report for confirmation, but they were not passed upon by the Circuit Court independently of defendant's alleged cross-bill and the petition of Mrs. Young in intervention and these papers may all be considered together, as they were by the Circuit Court, and so treated they constituted in effect an independent suit brought by Young and his wife to set aside the sale and have the alleged mortgage of the wife declared the prior incumbrance and enforced; or for redemption.

The objections in respect of alleged irregularities in the conduct of the sale, or the invalidity of certain taxes and the requirement of their payment, need not be considered, as they are not sustained by the record, and mere informalities or irregularities in a judicial sale in Louisiana do not constitute a sufficient ground for setting it aside. Stockmeyer v. Tobin, 139 U.S. 176.

The principal objection to the sale was the insufficiency of the bid at which the property was disposed of, and that objection will be first examined.

[ 160 U.S. Page 638]

     Under Articles 679, 683, and 684 of the code of practice of Louisiana, when there exists a special conventional mortgage or privilege on the property put up for sale, the property is sold subject thereto, and the purchaser pays to the officer so much of the price as exceeds "the amount of the privileges and special mortgages to which such property is subject;" and, in case of sale on twelve months' credit, if there exist on the property any privileges or special mortgage, in favor of other persons than the judgment creditor, and who are preferred to him, the purchaser is entitled to retain in his hands out of the price the amount required to satisfy the privileged debts and special hypothecations to which the property sold was subject, but is bound to give his obligation for the surplus of the purchase money, if there be any, and subscribe his obligation at twelve months' credit, with security; but if the price offered is not sufficient to discharge the privileges and mortgages existing on the property, having a preference over the judgment creditor, there shall be no adjudication, and other property, if there be any, shall be seized.

If, therefore, the mortgage claimed by Mrs. Young was conventional or special, and had been properly recorded and not legally renounced, and it was prior to that of Nalle & Co., no sale of the mortgaged property could be made under the junior incumbrance of the latter, unless the price bid was sufficient to discharge the prior lien. But if the prior mortgage was legal or judicial, this requirement did not apply, and the property passed to the purchaser subject to the payment of the prior lien. Alford v. Montejo, 28 La. Ann. 593; Godchaux v. Dicharry's Succession, 34 La. Ann. 579.

The Circuit Court held that the mortgage asserted by Mrs. Young was a special mortgage, which took precedence over that of Nalle & Co.; that her renunciation was void, and, the price bid not being sufficient to discharge this prior special mortgage, that the sale could not be confirmed and must be set aside.

By the civil code, the partnership or community of acquets and gains exists between husband and wife by operation of law, unless otherwise stipulated in the contract. The separate

[ 160 U.S. Page 639]

     property of the wife is that which she "brings into the marriage, or acquires during the marriage by inheritance or by donation made to her particularly," and "is divided into dotal and extra dotal. Dotal property is that which the wife brings to the husband to assist him in bearing the expenses of the marriage establishment. Extra dotal property, otherwise called paraphernal property, is that which ...

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