Thatcher v. Powell,
19 U.S. 119 (1821)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Thatcher v. Powell, 19 U.S. 119 (1821)

Thatcher v. Powell

19 U.S. 119


The execution by a public officer of a power to sell lands for the nonpayment of taxes must be in strict pursuance of the law under which it is made, or no title is conveyed.

It is essential to the validity of the sale of lands for taxes under the laws of Tennessee that it should appear on the record of the court by which the order of sale is made that the sheriff had returned that there were no goods and chattels of the delinquent proprietor out of which the taxes could be made.

The publications which are required by law to be made subsequent to the sheriff's return and previous to the order of sale are indispensable preliminaries to a valid order of sale.

In summary proceedings where a court exercises an extraordinary power under a special statute which prescribes its course, that course ought to be strictly pursued, and the facts which give jurisdiction ought to appear on the face of the record. Otherwise the proceedings are not merely voidable, but absolutely void as being coram non judice.

In construing local statutes respecting real property, this Court is governed by the decisions of the state tribunals.

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