Marquez v. Frisbie,
101 U.S. 473 (1879)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Marquez v. Frisbie, 101 U.S. 473 (1879)

Marquez v. Frisbie

101 U.S. 473


1. An injunction or a mandamus will not lie against an officer of the Land Department to control him in discharging an official duty which requires the exercise of his judgment and discretion.

2. A court will not, by reason of its jurisdiction of the parties, determine their respective rights to a tract of public land, which are the subject matter of a pending controversy whereof that department has rightfully taken cognizance, nor will it pass a decree which will render void a patent when it shall be issued.

3. Where the legal title is vested, the equities subject to which the patentee holds it may then be judicially enforced, and where that department has upon the uncontradicted facts committed an error of law by which the land has been awarded to a party to the prejudice of the right of another, the latter is entitled to relief.

4. Where, however, there was a mixed question of law and fact, and the court cannot separate it so as to ascertain what the mistake of law is, the decision of that department affirming the right of one of the contesting parties to enter a tract of public land is conclusive.

5. A. filed his bill in a state court, alleging that, having the requisite qualifications of a preemptor, he had settled upon a tract of public land, but that the proper register and receiver had refused to receive the purchase money and issue to him a certificate therefor solely upon the ground that the Department of the Interior had on appeal decided that the tract was not subject to preemption under the general preemption laws, and issued an order authorizing the entry of the tract by B., the defendant, who claimed the right to preempt it under a special act of Congress, by which he will be enabled to receive a patent therefor. The bill does not show what proofs were submitted by B., but alleges that, at the instigation of him and others, the Commissioner of the General Land Office fraudulently, and before the act passed, ordered the surveys of the lands covered by it to be withheld. The bill prayed that A. be declared to be the true owner of the tract and to have a paramount title thereto. B. demurred. Held that the bill was properly dismissed.

The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

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