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Opinion of the Court.

And when asked directly by defendant's counsel whether such a decree would be effectual in New Jersey to bind the defendant personally, he answered, "I have never known any case decided in New Jersey upon that point.”

In the absence of any statutory direction on the subject and of any reported decision of the Supreme Court of that State, we are justified in finding the law to be as declared in the very case in hand, where the chancellor of the Chancery Court of New Jersey has entered a final decree based upon an original bill, the process under which was served upon the defendant within the State, and upon a supplemental bill, a copy of which with a rule to plead was served upon the defendant without the State. So long as this decree stands it must be deemed to express the law of the State. If the defendant deemed himself aggrieved thereby his remedy was by an appeal.

In Cornett v. Williams, 20 Wall. 226, 249, where, in a Circuit Court of the United States, an attempt was made to destroy the effect of a judgment rendered by a county court by alleging error, this court said: "The power to review and reverse the decision so made is clearly appellate in its character, and can be exercised only by an appellate tribunal in a proceeding directly had for that purpose. It cannot and ought not to be done by another court, in another case, where the subject is presented incidentally, and a reversal sought in such collateral proceeding. The settled rule of law is that jurisdiction having attached in the original case, everything done within the power of that jurisdiction, when collaterally questioned, is to be held conclusive of the rights of the parties, unless impeached for fraud. Every intendment is made to support the proceeding. It is regarded as if it were regular and irreversible for error. In the absence of fraud no question can be collaterally entertained as to anything lying within the jurisdictional sphere of the original case. Infinite confusion and mischiefs would ensue if the rule were otherwise. These remarks apply to the order of sale here in question. The county court had power to make it, and did make it. It is presumed to have been properly made, and the question of its

Opinion of the Court.

propriety was not open to examination upon the trial in the Circuit Court. These propositions are sustained by a long and unbroken line of adjudications in this court. The last one was the case of McNitt v. Turner, 16 Wall. 366."

The principle was very clearly expressed by Mr. Justice Baldwin in Voorhees v. Bank of United States, 10 Pet. 449, 474: “The line which separates error in judgment from the usurpation of power is very definite; and it is precisely that which denotes the cases where a judgment or decree is reversible only by an appellate court, or may be declared a nullity collaterally, when it is offered in evidence in an action concerning the matter adjudicated, or purporting to have been so. In the one case it is a record importing absolute verity; in the other, mere waste paper; there can be no middle character assigned to judicial proceedings, which are irreversible for error. Such is their effect between the parties to the suit; and such are the immunities which the law affords to a plaintiff who has obtained an erroneous judgment or execution."

This rule is recognized in the State of New York. In Kinnier v. Kinnier, 45 N. Y. 535, 542, it was said: "A judgment of a sister State cannot be impeached by showing irregularities in the form of proceedings or a non-compliance with some law of the State where the judgment was rendered relating thereto, or that the decision was erroneous. Jurisdiction confers power to render the judgment, and it will be regarded as valid and binding until set aside in the court in which it was rendered."

Even if, therefore, it was the opinion of Mr. Dickenson, the defendant's expert witness, that the chancellor of New Jersey erred in thinking that jurisdiction over the defendant personally was conferred by the service on him within the State of the subpoena under the original bill, and by the service on him, without the State, of a copy of the supplemental bill and of a rule to plead, such opinion does not support the finding of the trial court that, under the laws of the State of New Jersey, the decree sued on and offered in evidence was not binding upon the defendant personally. The opinion of the chancellor differed from that of the witness, and, what is more im

Opinion of the Court.

portant, his judgment was that, under the laws and practice of the State of New Jersey, the defendant was in his court, subject to its jurisdiction and bound by its decree.

It is contended on behalf of the plaintiff in error that, even if the defendant could not have been personally bound by a decree based on the supplemental bill because a subpoena thereunder had not been served upon him within the State of New Jersey, yet that, as the defendant, after the entry of such a decree against him, appeared in the New Jersey court by counsel, and procured a modification of the decree, he thereby subjected himself to the decree as amended.

It is also claimed that, as he admits that he acquiesced in and ratified the decree, by accepting that portion thereof which relieved him from the contract of marriage, he cannot be heard to impeach the decree in dealing with the change thus caused in his marital relations by subjecting him to the payment of costs and alimony.

The fact that the defendant appeared and procured an amendment of the decree and its enrolment in its final form, took place after the bringing of the present suit, and, to form the basis for the contention that he thereby subjected himself to the decree as amended, such fact ought, perhaps, to have been made to appear by an amended or supplemental petition. But as the amended decree was put in evidence by the defendant himself, and was treated by the New York courts as the final decree, whose effect they were considering, we shall regard the amended decree as the real ground of the plaintiff's action.

As the appearance of the defendant was not for the purpose of objecting to the jurisdiction of the court, but was rather in the nature of an appeal to its jurisdiction, and as the objection successfully made to the decree as originally enrolled was restricted to one of its recitals, and did not attack the decree in the respect that it adjudged that he should pay the costs and alimony, there is force in the view that he thereby waived any right to further object to the decree. At all events, he could not successfully attack the decree collaterally in a court of different jurisdiction, but his remedy, if any he had, would be by way of appeal.

Opinion of the Court.

It is claimed by the defendant in error that to hold him personally bound by the decree for the payment of money would, in the circumstances of the present case, deprive him of his property without due process of law. This claim is based upon the assumption that the defendant had no hearing or opportunity to be heard.

As this record discloses that the defendant was served with process under the original bill, and appeared by counsel, and made answer, and was personally served with a copy of the supplemental bill and with an order to plead, and, after permitting himself to be defaulted, did appear by counsel and procured the vacation of the original decree and the enrolment of the decree amended in accordance with his own motion, it may fairly be said that he both had an opportunity to be heard and was heard. His appearance by counsel under the supplementary proceedings was not to object to the jurisdiction of the court, but to effect a change in the recitals of the decree on non-jurisdictional grounds. As before stated, we do not deem it necessary to consider the contention on behalf of the plaintiff in error that by such appearance the defendant estopped himself from alleging error in the decree when thus amended, but we think he certainly precluded himself from now contending that he has been deprived of his property within the meaning of the Federal Constitution.

As, then, the evidence of the defendant did not avail to show want of jurisdiction on the part of the Chancery Court of New Jersey to render the decree in question, and as it was admitted that the decree remained wholly unpaid, the plaintiff below was entitled to judgment.

The judgment of the Supreme Court is hereby reversed, and the case is remanded to the Supreme Court for further proceedings not inconsistent with the opinion of this court.


160 546 161 299 160 546 L-ed 529 161 299 164 698

160 546

L-ed 529

173 441

160 546 L-ed 529 179 192

Statement of the Case.



No. 825. Argued November 11, 1895. - Decided January 13, 1896.

The act of March 3, 1891, c. 538, concerning Indian depredations, confers, by § 1, clause 1, no jurisdiction upon the Court of Claims to adjudicate upon such a claim, made by a person who was not a citizen of the United States at the time when the injury was suffered, although he subsequently became so; nor by § 1, clause 2, unless the claim was one which, on March 3, 1885, had either been examined and allowed by the Department of the Interior, or was pending therein for examination.

ON March 3, 1891, Congress passed an act, 26 Stat. 851, c. 538, vesting certain jurisdiction in the Court of Claims, the material portion of which is found in the first section, and reads as follows:

"That in addition to the jurisdiction, which now is, or may hereafter be, conferred upon the Court of Claims, said court shall have and possess jurisdiction and authority to inquire into and finally adjudicate, in the manner provided in this act, all claims of the following classes, namely:

"First. All claims for property of citizens of the United States taken or destroyed by Indians belonging to any band, tribe, or nation, in amity with the United States, without just cause or provocation on the part of the owner or agent in charge, and not returned or paid for.

"Second. Such jurisdiction shall also extend to all cases which have been examined and allowed by the Interior Department and also to such cases as were authorized to be examined under the act of Congress making appropriations for the current and contingent expenses of the Indian Department, and for fulfilling treaty stipulations with various Indian tribes for the year ending June thirtieth, eighteen hundred and eighty-six, and for other purposes, approved March third, eighteen hundred and eighty-five, and under subsequent acts, subject, however, to the limitations hereinafter provided."

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