United States v. Morillo,
68 U.S. 706 (1863)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Morillo, 68 U.S. 1 Wall. 706 706 (1863)

United States v. Morillo

68 U.S. (1 Wall.) 706


1. When the government does not claim land in California as public land, this Court will not entertain jurisdiction of an appeal by the United States from a district court there under the Act of 3 March, 1851, for the settlement of private land claims; it has no jurisdiction under that act -- nor has the district court -- when the controversy is between individuals wholly.

2. In an appeal by the United States from a decree of one of those courts, where the proceeding below was to have a land title confirmed under this Act of March 3, 1851, an assertion by the counsel of the United States that the controversy is between individuals wholly, and that the United States have no interest in the case, is sufficient to satisfy the Court of that fact so far as respects the United States itself. But it is

Page 68 U. S. 707

not sufficient, the record itself not showing the fact, to satisfy the Court as respects the opposing party. Hence, although if this Court has no jurisdiction because the controversy is between private individuals wholly, the court below had none either, yet where the fact of such individual interest in the suit rests wholly on the admission of the United States here, and the opposing party is not represented here by counsel, this Court will not reverse the decree below, but will only dismiss the case.

Appeal by the United States from the decree of the District Court for the Southern District of California confirming a claim to land under the act of 3 March, 1851, entitled "An act to ascertain and settle the private land claims in the state of California." * The act having, by a previous section, enacted that "each and every person" claiming lands in California under title derived from the Spanish or Mexican government should present them with evidence to a Board of Commissioners appointed by the act, who should examine the same "upon such evidence, and upon the evidence produced by the United States," and should decide on it, in its 13th and 15th sections provides as follows:

"SECTION 13. All lands, the claims to which have been finally rejected by the commissioners &c., or which shall be finally decided to be invalid by the district or supreme court, and all lands the claims to which shall not have been presented to the said commissioners within two years after the date of this act shall be deemed, held and considered as part of the public domain of the United States. Provided &c."

"SECTION 15. The final decrees rendered by the said commissioners, or by the district or Supreme Court of the United States, or any patent to be issued under this act, shall be conclusive between the United States and the said claimants only, and shall not affect the interests of third persons."

It was part of the case in this Court, made so by the assertion of the United States, that the land in controversy had been confirmed to a person other than the claimant appellee, to-wit, had been confirmed to one Ramon Yorba. But this fact did not appear in the record; nor was there evidence of any

Page 68 U. S. 708

kind as to the date of this alleged decree -- that is to say, whether it was prior to subsequent to the one from which the present appeal was taken. In this state of facts, the question upon this assertion by the Attorney General of the United States, or his deputy, that the government had no further interest in the case, was, what form of order or decree should be made in this Court; whether a decree of reversal, with direction to the court below to dismiss as wanting jurisdiction, or a decree here of dismissal simply?

Page 68 U. S. 709

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