United States Attorney General Opinion, January 30, 1879
16 U.S. Op. Atty. Gen. 259
COMPROMISE OF CLAIMS OF THE UNITED STATES.
 Under section 3469 Rev. Stat., the Solicitor of the
properly recommend the acceptance of a compromise offered in
discharge of a claim
of the United States before judgment, where the defendant is able
to pay the
amount of the claim, but where the district attorney advises
acceptance upon the
ground that, from what of evidence to establish the facts on which
a verdict must
depend, he doubts his ability to obtain a judgment. This case
that considered in the opinion of January 8, 1879 (see infra).
Although the case may belong to that class of cases for relief
special provisions are found in the act of June 22, 1874, chap.
391, yet this
does not prevent an application for compromise thereof being made
under the more
general provision in section 3469 Rev. Stat.
Hon. KENNETH RAYNER
Solicitor of the Treasury.
Your letter of the 21st instant suggests that a former letter
had not given
fully the questions which you desired to submit to the Department,
therefore the opinion rendered on the 8th instant did not meet all
which you had intended.
You now inquire whether under section 3469 of the Revised
Solicitor of the Treasury is authorized to recommend to the
Secretary of the
Treasury the acceptance of a compromise offered in discharge of a
claim of the
United States before judgment, where the proponent is fully able to
entire amount claimed, but in which case the district attorney
acceptance upon the ground that  he doubts his ability to
obtain a judgment,
and expressly states that his doubts are based upon the want of
establish the facts upon which a verdict must depend.
Section 3469 is a general section, relating to all claims in
favor of the
United States not elsewhere specifically provided for. The former
this Department expressed the opinion that under that section,
defendant was entirely solvent, it was not the duty of the
Solicitor of the
Treasury to recommend a compromise upon the ground that
circumstances of hardship
existed affecting the defendant. It assumed that the United States
fully to prove its claim, and merely determined that compromise
ought not to be
recommended because it was hard to enforce the claim.
The present inquiry, however, presents the additional fact
that it is
uncertain whether or not the Government can prove its case. There
this distinct element in the case upon which a compromise can
properly be made,
resulting from the uncertainty in which the Government is placed as
ability to obtain a verdict; and in such case it seems to me that
may properly be recommended, not upon the ground that the case is
a hard one as
against the defendant, but upon the same ground upon which
contested claims are
often compromised by parties, in view of the uncertainty as to
It is not possible to give a definite standard by which the
should be guided in compromising claims. Among other things,
however, to be
taken into consideration, are the probability of obtaining a
verdict and the
probability of collecting the claim after a verdict is obtained.
probability may be greater or less in the various cases submitted
Solicitor, and there is no rule that can guide him except his sound
a lawyer upon the facts which are reported to him.
In rendering this opinion I have not found it necessary to
provisions which are made in the various parts of the statutes for
of fines, penalties, and forfeitures, or in mitigation or
compromise of the same.
Those are affected, of course, by the special provisions which
relate to them.
Your inquiry only discusses the general law which is embraced in
3469. If the case immediately before  us is one (as I infer
letter it may be) relating to a forfeiture, while special
provisions are made for
relief in such cases, which are to be found in section 17 et seq.
of the statute
of June 22, 1874, yet those special provisions would not, in my
the party from applying, if he desired so to do, under the more
of section 3469 of the Revised Statutes.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,