Thornton v. Corbin

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First page of the opinion Thornton v. Corbin, in Reports of Cases Argued and Adjudged in the Court of Appeals of Virginia, by Daniel Call. Ed. Lucian Minor, 3rd ed. Richmond: A. Morris, 1854.

In Thornton v. Corbin, 7 Va. (3 Call) 221 (1802),[1] a former client of Chief Justice John Marshall requests that his suit, which was dismissed by mistake, be redocketed.


Prior to being appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, John Marshall was retained as counsel for Thornton. However, after his appointment, Chief Justice Marshall failed to remove himself from the docket or inform his replacement about Thornton’s suit. Thornton’s case came on for a hearing in April 1801. Since Thornton and his counsel failed to show up, Chancellor Wythe dismissed the case for want of prosecution.

The Court's Decision

In October of the same year, Thornton filed a motion to show cause in the Court of Appeals. The motion requested the Court of Appeals overturn Wythe’s dismissal and allow his case to be redocketed. The Court of Appeals denied the motion and dismissed the case. The Court reasoned that Thornton should have found other counsel on his own after learning of Marshall’s appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court.

See also


  1. Daniel Call, Reports of Cases Argued and Adjudged in the Court of Appeals of Virginia, 3rd ed., ed. Lucian Minor (Richmond: A. Morris, 1854), 3:221. George Wythe owned the first edition of this set.