Where the jurisdiction of the court rendering the judgment
depends upon domicile, that question is open to reexamination in
the court of another state asked to give the judgment full faith
and credit as required by the federal Constitution. Andrews v.
Andrews, 188 U. S. 14
Where the evidence as to domicile of the deceased is conflicting
and the state court is warranted in finding that the court of
probate of another state did not have jurisdiction to probate a
will because the domicile of deceased was not in that state, this
Court will not retry the facts, and under the facts, as found in
this case, the decree of probate is not entitled to full faith and
credit in another state.
Where the headnote of a decision of a state court is not given
Page 232 U. S. 163
force by statute or rule of court, the opinion is to be looked
to for original and authentic grounds of the decision.
129 La. 528 affirmed.
The facts, which involve the validity of a judgment of the
Supreme Court of the Louisiana, and the determination whether that
court was required to give full faith and credit to a judgment of
the probate court of Texas, are stated in the opinion.
MR. JUSTICE HOLMES delivered the opinion of the Court.
This case arises in the matter of the succession of T. Scott
Burbank. He died in Texas on May 10, 1910, leaving a will dated
March 22, 1910, which was admitted to probate there. The executors
sought to have the will registered in Louisiana, but the tutrix of
Burbank's minor daughter and sole heir filed in the succession
record a direct action to annul the will on the ground that the
testator died domiciled in Louisiana and that, by the laws of that
state, the will was void. The Supreme Court of Louisiana gave
judgment against the will, and ordered the application for registry
to be dismissed "as of nonsuit." 129 La. 528. The error assigned is
that full faith and credit were not given to the Texas decree.
Of course, the jurisdiction of the Texas court depended upon the
domicil of Burbank, which therefore was open to reexamination.
Andrews v. Andrews, 188 U. S. 14
objection urged is that the Louisiana court attributed conclusive
effect to Burbank's conduct in Louisiana, taken
Page 232 U. S. 164
in connection with the laws there, instead of recognizing that
no statute of that state could prevent his acquiring a domicil
wherever he actually might be, elsewhere, and instead of treating
the question as one of intent and fact. Burbank was one of the
executors under his father's will, and as such, on April 8, 1909,
at that time being a resident of New Orleans, declared before a
notary that, then being about to absent himself temporarily from
Louisiana, and in order to comply with the law, especially Article
1154 of the Revised Civil Code, he constituted one Billings his
attorney. If he left the state permanently, his duty, we are told
by the supreme court, was to surrender his trust, render an
account, and pay over any balance due. It is true that, in his
Texas will, he declared that Texas was his permanent home, and that
he made similar declarations orally and in writing; but, on the
other hand, it is found that his agent continued to represent him,
and it seems that he continued to act, as an executor temporarily
absent. He had made a will in Louisiana just before leaving, but,
ten days before making the Texas will, he had consulted a lawyer as
to making a will that would be valid by the law of Texas, which law
allowed dispositions not valid by the law of Louisiana, where most
of his property was. The supreme court not unnaturally suspected,
from the declaration of domicil in the will and the circumstances,
that Burbank was making up a fictitious case in the hope of
avoiding the restrictions of his real domicil before he killed
himself, as it is said that he did, in May, and found that the
Texas declarations were more than counterbalanced by his
declaration of record and his official acts as executor resident in
Louisiana. There can be no question that the evidence was
conflicting and that the court was warranted in finding as it
It is not for us to retry the facts. The ground of the argument
here is a statement in the opinion of the court that the recital in
the notarial act was conclusive evidence
Page 232 U. S. 165
that Burbank left the state with the intention of returning; but
that does not import a failure to recognize, as the court clearly
did recognize, that he might change his mind. Reliance also is
placed upon the headnote of the decision. which states that the
intent to leave only temporarily is conclusively presumed to
continue until the notarial procuration is recalled, and that the
executors are concluded from asserting a change of domicil. But the
headnote is given no special force by statute or rule of court, as
in some states. It inaccurately represents the reasoning of the
judgment. In 129 La., it is said to have been made by the court.
However that may be, we look to the opinion for the original and
authentic statement of the grounds of decision. It may be that, in
fact, the conduct of the testator in Louisiana was given greater
weight, because of the statutes of the state, than others might
give it, but no error of law appears that would warrant a reversal
of the judgment below. German Savings & Loan Society v.
Dormitzer, 192 U. S. 125
192 U. S.