Herndon v. Ridgway
58 U.S. 424 (1854)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Herndon v. Ridgway, 58 U.S. 17 How. 424 424 (1854)

Herndon v. Ridgway

58 U.S. (17 How.) 424

Syllabus

Where a bill was filed in the District Court of the United States for the Northern District of Mississippi against four defendants, who all resided in Alabama, two of whom appeared for the purpose of moving to dismiss the bill, and the other two declined to appear altogether, nor was process served upon them, the court had no alternative but to dismiss the bill. The two absentees were essential parties.

Jurisdiction over parties is acquired only by a service of process or their voluntary appearance. If an essential portion of the defendants resided in another state, so that process could not be served upon them, and they would not voluntarily appear, the bill must be dismissed for want of jurisdiction.

This was a bill filed by Herndon, under the circumstances stated in the opinion of the Court, and which was dismissed by the court below.

The process against Davis was served upon Messrs. Dowd & Murphy, his attorneys. A motion was made to dismiss the bill for three reasons, the second of which was:

"Because Henry Davis is not a citizen of the Northern District of Mississippi, and Dowd & Murphy are not his attorneys of record in any of the courts of the United States, and have not instituted proceedings or suit therein against said Herndon, but are attorneys of record of said Davis, in the Circuit Court of Monroe County, Mississippi, a state court, as per affidavit on file."

The affidavit was as follows:

"In open court personally appeared Wm. F. Dowd, one of the firm of Dowd & Murphy, who made oath that Dowd & Murphy are not the attorneys of record of Henry Davis, and have not been, as such, to institute any suit in this Court, or any one of the federal courts of the United States, against Edward Herndon for the recovery of the property mentioned in the bill filed in this cause, but they, said Dowd & Murphy, are the attorneys of record of Henry Davis to prosecute a suit against said Herndon, is a state court, to-wit the Circuit Court of Monroe County, in the State of Mississippi."

"W. F. DOWD"

The district court dismissed the bill, and Herndon appealed to this Court.

Page 58 U. S. 425

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