Wetmore v. Karrick
205 U.S. 141 (1907)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Wetmore v. Karrick, 205 U.S. 141 (1907)

Wetmore v. Karrick

No. 144

Argued January 9, 1907

Decided March 11, 1907

205 U.S. 141

Syllabus

Where an action is brought to recover upon a judgment, the jurisdiction of the court rendering the judgment is open to inquiry, and the Constitutional requirement as to full faith and credit in each state to be given to the public acts, records and judicial proceedings of every other state does not require the enforcement of a judgment rendered without jurisdiction or otherwise wanting in due process of law.

A judgment rendered in personam against a defendant without jurisdiction of his person is not only erroneous, but void, and is not required to be enforced in other states under the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution or the act of Congress passed in aid thereof, § 905, Rev.Stat.

A court which has once rendered a judgment in favor of a defendant, dismissing the cause and discharging him from further attendance, cannot, after the term or at a subsequent term, without notice to the defendant, set that judgment aside and render a new judgment against the defendant; a judgment so entered is void, and not required to be enforced in

Page 205 U. S. 142

another state under the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution.

In Massachusetts, the rule day when a judgment becomes final is equivalent to the end of a term, and in that state, the rule is that judgment is final unless set aside within the exceptions for mistake.

Jurisdiction once lost can only be regained by some proper notice to the other party and where, as in this case, had notice been given of the motion to render a new judgment, defendant could have pleaded a discharge in bankruptcy, substantial rights are impaired, and the judgment so rendered without notice is void.

Although a mistake in regard to a judgment may be a clerical one, it cannot be corrected after the term without notice, especially where the condition of the parties has changed in view of new rights acquired which render it prejudicial to enter a new judgment.

Whatever remedies may exist as to the judgment in the state where rendered, want of jurisdiction may be pleaded by the judgment debtor wherever the judgment is set up against him in another forum.

The facts are stated in the opinion.

Page 205 U. S. 146

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