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Heirs of De Armas v. United States

Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

47 U.S. 103

Heirs of De Armas  v.  United States

THIS case came up by appeal from the District Court of the United States for the District of Louisiana.

It was a petition in the District Court relating to land, the circumstances of which it is unnecessary to state any further than they are refered to in the opinion of the court, as the case went off upon a point of jurisdiction. It was argued by Mr. S. S. Prentiss and Mr. Perin, for the appellants, and Mr. Clifford (Attorney-General), for the United States.

That part of the argument of the Attorney-General which related to the point of jurisdiction was as follows.

On the part of the United States it is contended, that the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction under the second section of the act of 1824, or under any other act, unless in cases where the judgment or decree in the court below made final disposition of the suit.

This point has been repeatedly ruled, on the twenty-fifth section of the Judiciary Act, by the unanimous judgment of the court, and is believed no longer to be an open question. Houston v. Moore, 2 Wheat. 433. Gibbons v. Ogden, 6 Wheat. 448. Weston et al. v. City Council of Charleston, 2 Peters, 449. Winn's Heirs v. Jackson et. al., 12 Wheat. 135.

'The word final must be understood as applying to all judgments and decrees which determine the particular cause.' Weston et al. v. City Council of Charleston, before cited, on pages 464, 465.

The act of 1824 follows very closely the requirements of the Judiciary Act in this respect. The second section provides,-'And in all cases the party against whom the judgment or decree of the said District Court may be finally given shall be entitled to an appeal, within one year from the time of its rendition, to the Supreme Court of the United States, the decision of which court shall be final and conclusive between the parties; and should no appeal be taken, the judgment or decree of the said District Court shall, in like manner, be final and conclusive.'

The appeal is allowed only to the party against whom the judgment or decree may be finally given; and, further, to place the point beyond doubt, in case no appeal be taken, it is specially provided that the judgment or decree of the District Court shall be final and conclusive.

In this case no final decree was made. Some points in the demurrer being sustained, the petitioners appeal. The petition is not dismissed, but, from aught that appears in the record, is still open to a rehearing. It is clearly within the discretionary power of the district judge to allow the appellants to amend and avoid the objections raised. At all events, the final decree has not been passed, and no appeal will lie.

The record does not show that the proceedings in the court below are closed; consequently no case is made within the provisions of law authorizing an appeal. The petition and pleadings are still within the control of the court below.

Mr. Chief Justice TANEY delivered the opinion of the court.


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).