APPEAL FROM THE COURT OF CLAIMS.
MR. JUSTICE LAMAR delivered the opinion of the court.
This is an action brought in the Court of Claims on the 18th of February, 1885, by a district attorney of the United States to recover a balance of $320, alleged to be due him for services performed under section 824 of the Revised Statutes, and withheld from him by the accounting officers of the Treasury Department, under instructions from the Attorney General.
The material facts in the case, as found by the court below, are substantially as follows: The claimant, Charles C. Waters, for six years immediately preceding the commencement of the action, had been United States district attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, and in his official capacity, during that period, had tried twenty-two indictments for crimes, before a jury, securing a conviction in each case. The District Court before which those causes were tried allowed him $30 counsel fee in each case, in addition to the fees otherwise provided for, in accordance, as is claimed, with the provisions of section 824 of the Revised Statutes. When his accounts were forwarded to the accounting officers of the Treasury Department they were submitted to the Attorney General for his supervision, Rev. Stat. § 368, who reduced the amounts, allowed claimant $10 in five, $15 in fourteen, and $20 in three of the cases -- in all $320. The accounting officers of the Treasury Department followed the action of the Attorney General and passed the accounts as reduced.
The practice of reducing the allowances made to district attorneys for counsel fees first began about 1878, when Attorney General Devens issued the following circular:
"DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, WASHINGTON, , 1878, " , Esq.,
"United States Attorney, District of :
"SIR: Your attention is invited to the concluding clause of section 824 of the Revised Statutes of the United States, permitting an allowance not exceeding $30, in addition to the
other legal fees of the United States attorney, in proportion to the importance and difficulty of the cause, when a conviction is had before a jury on an indictment for crime. Whenever you have obtained the approval of the court to a special fee under this clause, you will forward with your account of the same to the First Auditor a brief statement of the points and circumstances in each case, which render it one of the importance and difficulty contemplated by the statutes. Your account, together with the statement, will be submitted by the First Auditor (in such cases as he deems necessary) to the Attorney General, in order to determine from the means afforded whether such special counsel fees should be allowed in the final settlement.