ERROR TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF KENTUCKY.
MR. JUSTICE McKENNA delivered the opinion of the court.
Proceeding in equity under the law of Kentucky for an accounting from the Capital Trust Company as administrator de bonis non of the estate of Thomas N. Arnold, deceased, and that the estate be settled and distributed.
Defendant in error Calhoun and Calhoun & Sizer, a firm composed of C.C. Calhoun and Adrian Sizer, attorneys at law, appeared in the proceeding and by cross-petition prayed judgment against the trust company as such administrator for the sum of $1504.50, with interest from July 10, 1915.
An outline of the facts is as follows: Thomas N. Arnold, prior to his death, believing that he had a just claim against the United States, entered into a contract with the firm of Calhoun & Sizer and employed it to undertake the prosecution of the claim, and on August 1, 1905, entered into a written contract with it by which, in consideration of the services rendered and to be rendered by it in the prosecution of the claim, he agreed to pay it a fee equal in amount to 50% of whatever sum of money should be awarded or collected on the claim, the payment of which was made a lien upon the claim or upon any draft or evidence of payment that might be issued in liquidation thereof.
The firm undertook the prosecution of the claim and bills were introduced in Congress for its payment, and on May 22, 1908, it was referred to the Court of Claims by a resolution of the United States Senate for findings of fact under § 14 of the Act of March 3, 1887, c. 359, 24 Stat. 505, now § 151 of the Judicial Code. About that time the firm of Calhoun & Sizer was dissolved and subsequently Arnold died and the beneficiaries of the estate entered into a written contract with defendant in error, C.C. Calhoun, to continue the prosecution of the claim and agreed to pay him 50% of the amount which might be collected, the fee to be a lien "on any warrant" which might "be issued in payment of said claim."
January 15, 1912, the Court of Claims made findings of fact in the matter of the claim and stated the amount thereof as $5015.00. The court's findings were certified to Congress and that body, by an Act approved March 4, 1915, c. 140, 38 Stat. 962, made an appropriation for the payment of the claim and the Secretary of the Treasury was directed to pay it.
The act, however, contained the following provisions: "That no part of the amount of any item appropriated in this bill in excess of twenty per centum thereof shall be
paid or delivered to or received by any agent or agents, attorney or attorneys on account of services rendered or advances made in connection with said claim.
"It shall be unlawful for may agent or agents, attorney or attorneys to exact, collect, withhold or receive any sum which in the aggregate exceeds twenty per centum of the amount of any item appropriated in this bill on account of services rendered or advances made in connection with said claim, any contract to the contrary notwithstanding. Any person violating the provisions of this Act shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be fined in any sum not exceeding $1000."
June 7, 1915, Calhoun requested the Secretary of the Treasury to issue a warrant to him for the sum of $1003, which he recited was to be payable to him on account of services as attorney in the claim of the Capital Trust Company against the United States, as appropriated for by the act of Congress, the receipt of said warrant to be taken and accepted as a full and final release ...