Fuentes v. United States
Annotate this Case
63 U.S. 443 (1859)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Fuentes v. United States, 63 U.S. 22 How. 443 443 (1859)
Fuentes v. United States
63 U.S. (22 How.) 443
A petition was presented to the board of commissioners in California, claiming the confirmation of a title to land, which petition alleged:
1. That a grant had been issued by Micheltorena, and delivered in June, 1843.
2. That it was recorded.
3. That it was not to be found in the archives, because the record had been burned.
4. That the grant was approved by the departmental assembly, but that the record of such approval had been burned.
5. That therefore the claimant could not produce any evidence that the grant had been so approved.
The secondary evidence offered does not prove the existence of such records, nor their destruction. The recital in the grant is not sufficient evidence of this.
The paper produced by the claimant, purporting to be a grant, must therefore be judged by itself. There was no evidence that it had been preceded by the usual formalities, such as a petition, an examination, an inquiry into the character of the applicant, an order for a survey, a reference to a magistrate for a report, a transmission of the grant to the departmental assembly, nor was there an expediente on file.
Where these requirements do not appear, a presumption arises against the genuineness of the grant, making it a proper subject of inquiry before that fact can be admitted.
The evidence produced in this case does not establish the genuineness of the grant.
There is also an absence of all proof that the grant had been delivered to the grantee, then a minor, or to anyone for him. If the grant was genuine, and not delivered until after the cession of California to the United States, it would not give the grantee any right to claim the land.
A recital in the paper or grant, that the prerequisites had been complied with, is not sufficient ground for a presumption that they had been observed.
The cases decided heretofore by this Court do not support the position.
These cases examined.
If the conditions imposed by the grant were conditions subsequent, yet the grantee allowed years to pass without any attempt to perform them until a change of circumstances had taken place, which amounts to evidence of an abandonment.
The nature of the title, and evidence in support of it, are stated and commented on in the opinion of the Court, and need not be repeated.