Ransom v. Williams - 69 U.S. 313 (1864)
U.S. Supreme Court
Ransom v. Williams, 69 U.S. 2 Wall. 313 313 (1864)
Ransom v. Williams
69 U.S. (2 Wall.) 313
Under the statute of Illinois which authorizes execution to issue against the lands of a deceased debtor provided that the plaintiff in the execution shall give notice to the executor or administrator, if there he any, of the decedent -- a sale without either such notice or scire facias, as at the common law (or proof that there were no executors?) is void. On a question of title under this statute, the burden of proving that his purchase was after due notice rests with the purchaser, the record of execution and sale not of itself raising a presumption that notice was given.
Ransom brought ejectment against Williams in the Circuit Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Both parties claimed title from Galbraith. The plaintiff relied upon a sheriff's deed, made pursuant to a sale under an execution upon a judgment against Galbraith and others, obtained in the state court of Ogle County on the 27th of March, 1841. The execution was issued on the 25th of November, 1847, the sale made on the 25th of November, 1848, and the deed executed on the 24th of July, 1849. The defendants claimed under a deed from Galbraith and wife dated on the 31st of May, 1842. This deed contained a special covenant against the "claims of all persons claiming, or to claim, by, through, or under him." Galbraith died in 1843, and letters of administration upon his estate were issued on the 25th of February in that year.
A statute of the State of Illinois, it is here necessary to say, authorizes execution to issue against the lands and tenements of a deceased judgment debtor,
"provided, however, the plaintiff or plaintiffs in execution, or his or their attorney, shall give to the executor or administrator, if there be any, of said deceased person or persons, at least three months' notice in writing, of the existence of said judgment before the issuing of execution."
There was no proof that such notice had been given to the legal representatives of Galbraith, but it was proved by the plaintiff that the premises in controversy had been sold under a prior execution, and that, on the motion of the judgment creditor, the court
to which the execution was returned had set the sale aside, quashed the execution, and ordered that another execution should issue. This order was made on the 24th of September, 1847.
The court below charged the jury, that the want of proof of due notice to the legal representatives of Galbraith, before the issuing of the execution, under which the sale was made, was fatal to the plaintiff's case.
The jury found accordingly, and the plaintiff excepted. The correctness of the charge was the point on error here.