Carr v. Fife - 156 U.S. 494 (1995)


U.S. Supreme Court

Carr v. Fife, 156 U.S. 494 (1895)

Carr v. Fife

No. 215

Submitted January 30, 1895

Decided March 4, 1995

156 U.S. 494

Syllabus

It is too late to urge in this Court stipulations between parties not brought to the attention of the court below.

The value of the matter in dispute, if not stated in the record, may, for the purpose of jurisdiction, be shown by affidavits.

The fact that a circuit judge, prior to his appointment, had been counsel for one of the parties in matters not connected with the case on trial, does not disqualify him from trying the cause.

Page 156 U. S. 495

An objection that the receiver took part with the register on the hearing and decision of a case in the land office cannot be taken for the first time in this Court.

Taking all the facts together, it is quite clear that the receiver and the register affirmatively found the fact of abandonment.

The decision of the land office upon the questions involved in this case was conclusive unless the charges of fraud and conspiracy were sustained, and it is evident that the court below carefully considered the evidence on these points.

When a plaintiff seeks to invalidate a patent of land by averring misconduct on the part of officials in a contest case, a complete record of the proceedings is relevant and important.

In the absence of fraud and imposition, the findings and decisions of the land office cannot be reviewed as to the facts involved.

In the District Court of the Second Judicial District of Washington Territory, in April, 1887, Anthony P. Carr filed a bill of complaint against W. H. Fife and others, including the executors of Edward S. Smith, deceased, seeking to set aside a patent of the United States to one Robert E. Sproul, issued on December 13, 1875, granting certain lands of the United States, lying in the County of Pierce, and to have the defendants, who derived their titles to parts and parcels of said lands from the said Sproul, declared to hold the same in trust for the said plaintiff, and that they be required to execute conveyances thereof to the said plaintiff.

The defendants appeared and put in an answer and a cross-bill, to which the plaintiff demurred. On August 7, 1888, the demurrer to the answer was overruled and that to the cross-bill was sustained. An examiner was appointed and evidence was put in, and on November 25, 1888, the cause was put down for hearing in the said District Court of the Second Judicial District of Washington Territory, and was submitted for decision on December 17, 1888. But before any decision was rendered, the territory was admitted into the Union as a state. It was thereupon stipulated that the cause should be submitted to the Superior Court of Pierce County, State of Washington, on the pleadings, evidence, and briefs of counsel. Before the said Superior Court of Pierce County took any action, the cause was, on May 26, 1890, at the instance of the defendants, under the provisions of section 23 of the Act

Page 156 U. S. 496

approved February 22, 1889, 25 Stat. 683, c. 180, pp. 676, 683, transferred to the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Washington. On July 28, 1890, the plaintiff in the action moved the circuit court to remand the cause to the Superior Court of Pierce County, which motion was overruled, as was likewise a subsequent motion or petition to have the cause tried by the circuit judge, or, if he were unable to sit, by the district judge for the District of Oregon. On January 28, 1891, a final decree was entered dismissing the bill. A motion was made February 10, 1891, to vacate the decree and remand the cause to the Superior Court of Pierce County upon the alleged grounds that the same had been improperly removed and that the circuit court had not acquired jurisdiction thereof, because it had not been made to appear at the time of such removal that the matter in dispute exceeded, exclusive of interest and costs, the sum of two thousand dollars. The circuit court permitted affidavits to be filed on behalf of the defendants, averring that the matter in dispute largely exceeded the amount necessary to give the court jurisdiction, and then overruled the motion to vacate the decree and remand the cause. An appeal was then allowed to this Court.



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