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United States Supreme Court

70 U.S. 46

Castro  v.  United States

We have no jurisdiction of this appeal, unless it has been allowed by some act of Congress, and has been brought in substantial conformity with the legislative directions. The appellate jurisdiction of this court is, indeed, derived from the Constitution; but by the express terms of the constitutional grant, it is subjected to such exceptions and to such regulations as Congress may make.

In the Judiciary Act of 1789, and in many acts since, Congress has provided for its exercise in such cases and classes of cases, and under such regulations as seemed to the legislative wisdom convenient and appropriate. The court has always regarded appeals in other cases as excepted from the grant of appellate power, and has always felt itself bound to give effect to the regulations by which Congress has prescribed the manner of its exercise. We here use the word appeals in its largest sense, comprehending writs of error, and every other form in which appellate jurisdiction may be invoked or brought into action.

The acts of Congress providing for and regulating appeals have been often under the consideration of this court; and it may now be regarded as settled, that in the cases where appeals are allowed by the Judiciary Act of 1789, and the additional act of 1803, the writ of error, or the allowance of appeal, together with a copy of the record and the citation, when a citation is required, must be returned to the next term of this court after the writ is sued out or the appeal allowed; otherwise the writ of error, or the appeal, as the case may be, will become void, and the party desiring to invoke the appellate jurisdiction will be obliged to resort to a new writ or a new appeal. [8]

In the case now before us, the rule just noticed was not followed. The appeal was allowed on the 11th November, 1864, and the allowance, with a citation to the adverse party, duly served, and a copy of the record, should have been sent here at the next term. This was not done, and the appeal, therefore, became void. The citation subsequently issued was consequently without avail, for there was no subsisting appeal.

The fact that the district attorney was present in court, cannot change this conclusion. We are not prepared to admit that the more presence of counsel in court at the time of the allowance of an appeal, at another term than that of the decision appealed from, and without notice of the motion or prayer for allowance, would dispense with the necessity for a citation. Certainly it would have no greater effect; and in the case before us, a citation, even if issued and served contemporaneously with the allowance of the appeal, would have availed nothing, because of the omission to make the required return to the next term.

If this appeal, therefore, is to be disposed of under the acts of 1789 and 1803, as interpreted by this tribunal, it must be dismissed.

But it does not come before us under those acts.

It was allowed under the tenth section of the act of March 3, 1851, to ascertain and settle private land claims in the State of California, which authorizes the allowance of appeals on application to the District Court, and giving security, if required, for prosecution.

This act makes no provision concerning returns to this court, and none concerning citations; nor does it impose any limitation of time within which appeals may be allowed.

But we cannot suppose that Congress intended no regulation of these appeals in these important respects. It had already prescribed regulations for the most usual invocation of appellate jurisdiction; and when it provided for appeals in these land cases from the District Court for California, it had, doubtless, these regulations in view. We think, therefore, that the appeals authorized by this section must be regarded as appeals subject to the general regulations of the acts of 1789 and 1803. If we held otherwise, we should be obliged to sanction appeals taken at any term, and brought here at any time after final decision; or to confine the right of appeal to the term of the District Court in which the decision complained of was made. We cannot ascribe to Congress either intention.

The appeal before us, therefore, must be considered as having been made subject to those regulations, and must be dismissed for want of conformity to them by the appellant.



^8  United States v. Hodge, 3 Howard, 534; United States v. Villabolos, 6 Id. 90; United States v. Curry, Id. 112; Steamer Virginia v. West, 19 Id. 182; Insurance Co. v. Mordecai, 21 Id. 200; Mesa v. United States, 2 Black, 721.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).