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United States Supreme Court

77 U.S. 327

Jones  v.  Andrews


On the question of jurisdiction over the parties, the appellees contend, 1st. That the citizenship of the parties was not sufficiently alleged in the bill. 2d. That, if sufficiently alleged, the court had no jurisdiction over Andrews, the principal defendant, who was a citizen of New York, and not a citizen of Tennessee, where the suit was brought.

Although the allegation of citizenship is not made in precise and technical form, we consider it sufficiently explicit to sustain the jurisdiction of the court, if the citizenship disclosed by the allegation does not displace that jurisdiction. It is more explicit than the allegation in the case of Express Company v. Kountze Brothers, [3] which was sustained by the court. All that is necessary is, that it fairly appear by the bill of what States the respective parties are citizens. In this case the form of the allegations leaves no room for reasonable doubt.

The other exception, that Andrews, the principal defendant, was not a citizen of the State where the suit was brought, is entitled to more weight. Though the Constitution declares that the judicial power of the Federal government shall extend to controversies between citizens of different States, which would embrace the case before us (the plaintiff being a citizen of Georgia, and Andrews a citizen of New York), yet Congress has not established any court, except the Circuit Court, to take cognizance of such cases; and, by the Judiciary Act of 1789, which establishes that court, Congress only invested it with jurisdiction of cases where the suit is between a citizen of the State where the suit is brought, and a citizen of another State, [4] and moreover declared that no civil suit should be brought before said court against an inhabitant of the United States, by any original process, in any other district than that whereof he is an inhabitant, or in which he shall be found at the time of serving the writ. The case is certainly not within the purview of this statute. The suit is brought in West Tennessee, and neither Jones, the complainant, nor Andrews, the defendant, is a citizen of that State. Besides, the suit is brought against Andrews in a district of which he is not an inhabitant, and in which he was not found at the time of serving the writ. Under the act of 1789, and the ruling of the early cases, the court would, prim a facie, be without jurisdiction. According to those cases the plaintiff, or each of the plaintiffs, if more than one, must be able to sue each of the defendants, if more than one.

But the act of February 28, 1839, by implication, confers jurisdiction over non-residents of the district where the suit is brought, if they voluntarily appear therein. The suit can proceed against them if they voluntarily appear, or without them if they are not necessary parties. If, however, they are necessary parties, and do not voluntarily appear, the difficulty remains the same as before the act of 1839 was passed. [5] In this case Andrews was a necessary party, and he was not a resident of the district, and was not served with process, but he did voluntarily appear. It is true that as soon as he appeared, he moved a dismissal of the bill on two grounds, (1.) That it did not show such facts in regard to the citizenship or residence of the defendants as to give the court jurisdiction. (2.) That it contained no equity. Whether, if he had made the motion on the first ground alone he would have waived his personal exemption, it is not necessary to decide. His moving to dismiss for want of equity was clearly a waiver: and he was properly required to answer the bill. After this the question of jurisdiction over the person was at an end, and the decree of the Circuit Court, dismissing the bill for want of jurisdiction, must be reversed.

But the case is stronger than this. The jurisdiction of the court did not depend on the residence or citizenship of the parties. The suit is, in its nature, not an original but a defensive or supplementary suit, like a cross-bill, or a bill filed to enjoin a judgment of the same court. The bill is filed for an injunction against the garnishee proceedings under the suit at law for the delivery up of the complainant's notes, and for the establishment of his set-off against Andrews. This is, in substance, its character, and if the facts charged furnish a sufficient ground of equity for the relief asked, as to which the court refrains from expressing any opinion, the complainant had a right to file it against the defendants, and the court had a right to take cognizance of it as a defensive or supplementary proceeding, growing out of, and having direct reference to, the proceedings of the defendants in the same court against him. The case, in this respect, as before said, is analogous to that of a cross-bill or bill of review, or a bill for injunction against a judgment at law in the same court, of which the court has jurisdiction irrespective of the residence of the parties. [6] As to bills for injunction against judgments at law rendered in the same court, Justice Story, in Dunlap v. Stetson, says: 'I believe the general, if not universal, practice has been, to consider bills of injunction upon judgments in the Circuit Courts of the United States, not as original, but as auxiliary and dependent suits, and properly sustainable in that court which gave the original judgment, and has it completely under its control. The court itself possesses a power over its own judgments by staying execution thereon; and it would be very inconvenient if it did not possess the means of rendering such further redress, as equity and good conscience required.' Let the decree of the Circuit Court be REVERSED, and the cause remitted for further proceedings, each party to pay his own costs on this appeal.

DECREE ACCORDINGLY.

NotesEdit

^3  8 Wallace, 342.

^4  § 11.

^5  Tobin v. Walkinshaw, 1 McAllister, 26.

^6  Logan v. Patrick, 5 Cranch, 288; Simms v. Guthrie, 9 Id. 25; Clarke v. Mathewson, 12 Peters, 164; Dunlap v. Stetson, 4 Mason, 349.

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