In practice. Actio nihil aliud est, quam jus persequendi in judicio
quod sibi debetur. Just. Inst. Lib. 4, tit. 6; Vinnius, Com. Actions are divided into criminal and civil. Bac. Abr. Actions, A. 2. 1. A criminal action is a prosecution in a court of justice in the name of the government, against one or more individuals accused of a crime. See 1 Chitly's Cr. Law.
1. 2. A civil action
is a legal demand of one's right, or it is the form given by law for the recovery of that which is due. Co. Litt. 285; 3 Bl. Com. 116; 9 Bouv. Inst. n. 2639; Domat. Supp. des Lois Civiles, liv. 4, tit. 1, No. 1; Poth. Introd. generale aux Coutumes, 109; 1 Sell. Pr. Introd. s. 4, p. 73. Ersk. Princ. of Scot. Law, B. 41 t. 1. 1. Till judgment the writ is properly called an action, but not after, and therefore, a release of all actions is regularly no bar of all execution. Co. Litt. 289 a; Roll. Ab. 291. They are real, personal and mixed. An action is real or personal, according as realty or personalty is recovered; not according to the nature of the defence. Willes' Rep. 134.
4. 1. Real actions are those brought for the specific recovery of lands, tenements
, or hereditaments. Steph. PI. 3. They are either droitural, when the demandant seeks to recover the property; or possessory when he endeavors to obtain the possession. Finch's Law, 257, 8. See Bac. Abr. Actions, A, contra. Real Actions are, 1st. Writs of right; 2dly, Writs of entry, which lie in the per, the per et cui, or the post, upon disseisin, intrusion. or alienation. 3dly. Writs ancestral possessory, as Mort d' ancester, aid, besaiel, cosinage, or Nuper obiit
. Com. Dig. Actions, D 2. By these actions formerly all disputes concerning real estate, were decided; but now they are pretty generally laid aside in practice, upon account of the great nicety required in their management, and the inconvenient length of their process; a much more expeditious, method of trying titles being since introduced by other actions, personal and mixed. 3 Bl. Com. 118. See Booth on Real Actions.
5. 2. Personal actions
are those brought for the specific recovery of goods and chattels
; or for damages or other redress for breach of contract, or other injuries, of whatever description; the specific recovery of lands, tenements, and hereditaments only excepted. Steph. PI. 3; Com. Dig. Actions, D 3; 3 Bouv. Inst. n. 2641. Personal actions arise either upon contracts, or for wrongs independently of contracts. The former are account, assumpsit, covenant, debt, and detinue; see these words. In Connecticut and Vermont there is, an action used which is peculiar to those states, called the action of book debt
. 2 Swift's Syst. Ch. 15. The actions for wrongs, injuries, or torts, are trespass on the case, replevin, trespass, trover. See these words, and see Actio personalis moritur cum persona
6. 3. Mixed actions are such as appertain, in some degree, to both the former classes, and, therefore, are properly reducible to neither of them, being brought for the specific recovery of lands, tenements, or hereditaments, and for damages for injury sustained in respect of such property. Steph. Pl. 3; Co. Litt. 284, b; Com. Dig. Actions, D 4. Every mixed action, properly so called, is also a real action. The action of ejectment is a personal action, and formerly, a count for an assault and battery
might be joined with a count for the recovery of a term of Years
7. Actions are also divided into those which are local and such as are transitory.
1. A local action is one in which the venue must still be laid in the county, in which the cause of action actually arose. The locality of actions is founded in some cases, on common law principles, in others on the statute law
8. Of those which continue local, by the common law, are, lst, all actions in which the subject or thing to be recovered is in its nature local. Of this class are real actions, actions of waste, when brought on the statute of Gloucester
, (6 Edw. I.) to recover with the damages, the locus in quo
or place wasted; and actions of ejectment. Bac. Abr. Actions Local, &c. A, a; Com. Dig. Actions, N 1; 7 Co. 2 b; 2 Bl. Rep. 1070. All these are local, because they are brought to recover the seisin or possession of lands or tenements, which are local subjects.
9. 2dly. Various actions which do not seek the direct recovery of lands or tenements, are also local, by the common law; because they arise out of some local subject, or the violation of some local right or interest. For example, the action of quare impedit
is local, inasmuch as the benefice, in the right of presentationto which the plaintiff complains of being obstructed, is so. 7 Co. 3 a; 1 Chit. PI. 271; Com. Dig. Actions, N 4. Within this class of cases are also many actions in which only pecuniary damages
are recoverable. Such are the common law action
of waste, and trespass quare clausum fregit; as likewise trespass on the case for injuries affecting things real, as for nuisances to houses or lands; disturbance of rights of way or of common; obstruction or diversion of ancient water courses, &c. 1 Chit. Pl. 271; Gould on Pl. ch. 3, 105, 106, 107. The action of replevin, also, though it lies for damages only, and does not arise out of the violation of any local right, is nevertheless local. 1 Saund. 347, n. 1. The reason of its locality appears to be the necessity of giving a local description of the taking complained of. Gould on PI. ch. 3, 111. A scire facias upon a record, (which is an action, 2 Term Rep. 46,) although to some intents, a continuation of the original suit, 1 Term Rep. 388, is also local.
10. 2. Personal actions which seek nothing more than the recovery of money or personal chattels of any kind, are in most cases transitory, whether they sound in tort or in contract; Com. Dig. Actions, N 12; 1 Chit. PI. 273; because actions of this class are, in most instances, founded on the violation of rights which, in contemplation of law, have no locality. 1 Saund. 241, b, note 6. And it will be found true, as a general position, that actions ex delicto, in which a mere personalty is recoverable, are, by the common law, transitory;except when founded upon, or arising out of some local subject. Gould on Pl. ch. 3, 112. The venue in a transitory action
may be laid in any county which the plaintiff may prefer. Bac. Abr. Actions Local, &c. A. (a.)
11. In the civil law actions are divided into real, personal, and mixed. A real action, according to the civil law, is that which he who is the owner of a thing, or, has a right in it, has against him who is in possession of it, to compel him to give up the plaintiff, or to permit him to enjoy the right he has in it. It is a right which a person has in a thing, follows the thing, and may be instituted against him who possesses it; and this whether the thing be movable or immovable and, in the sense of the common law, whether the thing be real or personal. See Domat, Supp. des Lois Civiles, Liv. 4, tit. 1, n. 5; Pothier, Introd. Generales aux Coutumes 110; Ersk. Pr. Scot. Law, B. 4, t. 1, 2.
12. A personal action is that which a creditor has against his debtor, to compel him to fulfil his engagement. Pothier, lb. Personal actions are divided into civil actions and criminal actions. The former are those which are instituted to compel the payment or to do some other thing purely civil the latter are those by which the plaintiff asks the reparation of a tort or injury which he or those who belong to him have sustained. Sometimes these two kinds of actions are united when they assume the name of mixed personal actions. Domat, Supp. des Lois Civiles, Liv. 4, tit. 1, n. 4; 1 Brown's Civ. Law, 440.
13. Mixed actions participate both of personal and real actions. Such are the actions of partition, and to compel the parties to put down
landmarks or boundaries. Domat, ubi supra.