Carter v. Ruddy
166 U.S. 493 (1897)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Carter v. Ruddy, 166 U.S. 493 (1897)

Carter v. Ruddy

No. 250

Submitted March 80, 1897

Decided April 19, 1897

166 U.S. 493

Syllabus

Generally a patent is necessary for transfer of the legal title to public lands.

It is well settled that an action of ejectment cannot be maintained in the courts of the United States on a merely equitable title, and there is nothing in this case to exempt it from the rule that a patent is necessary to convey legal title.

The verdict of a jury determines questions of fact at issue. and this Court cannot review such determination, or examine the testimony further than to see that there was sufficient to justify the conclusions reached.

If the trial court gives the law fully and accurately, covering all the ground necessary to advise the jury of the rights of the parties, it is not necessary to instruct them in the very language of counsel.

When a tract of land is held as a separate and distinct tract, with boundaries designated so that they may be known, the possession by the owner or his tenants of a part operates as a possession of all; but if the tract is cut up into distinct lots, marked and treated as distinct tracts, the claimant to all must show possession of all.

On April 12, 1889, plaintiff in error commenced an action of ejectment in the District Court of Shoshone County, Territory of Idaho, to recover of defendants the possession of a portion of the north half of block 22 in the Town of Wallace in said county and territory, and damages for the detention thereof. After answers by the several defendants (Idaho having been admitted into the Union as a state), the case was, on application of the plaintiff, transferred to the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Idaho. The petition for the transfer alleged two grounds: one diverse citizenship and the other the existence of federal questions, to-wit, the construction of the act of Congress, of date July 17, 1854,

Page 166 U. S. 494

c. 83, authorizing the issue and location of Sioux half-breed scrip, 10 Stat. 304, the construction of sections 2387 to 2389, Revised Statutes, relating to town sites, and the question whether section 4556, Idaho Revised Statutes, 1887, is or is not inconsistent with the laws of Congress governing the possession and disposition of the public lands. A trial was had before a jury, commencing on December 4, 1891, which resulted in a verdict for the defendants. Upon this verdict judgment was entered in their favor, which judgment was affirmed by the Court of Appeals. 15 U.S.App. 129. Thereupon the case was brought here on error.

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