United States v. Porche/Opinion of the Court
It is evident that the District Court had no jurisdiction in this case, and the petition ought to have been dismissed.
The act of June 17th, 1844, under which the petition was filed, extended to Louisiana the act of 1824, and revived such parts of it as had expired. Under this provision, the fifth section of the act of 1824 was revived, and became a part of the law of 1844. And by this section, the time for filing a petition by a claimant under a French or Spanish grant, is in express terms limited to two years from the passage of the law. The time limited, therefore, for filing a petition in Louisiana, expired on the 17th of June, 1846, and this petition was not filed until March 8th, 1848, long after the time fixed by the law. 8 How., 119.
The acts of 1826 and 1828, referred to in the argument, can have no bearing on the question. They are not mentioned, nor in any manner referred to, by the act of 1844. They were special laws enlarging the time given by the act of 1824 to claimants in Missouri and Arkansas to file their petitions. But they are not extended to Louisiana by the act of 1844. Nothing but the act of 1824 is extended. As to the supposed waiver by the District Attorney of his objection as to the time of filing the petition, by answering after his plea was overruled, it must be made, we suppose, upon a mistake as to the fact. For in his answer he insists upon the same defense. And he had a right to avail himself of it by way of answer as well as by plea. But if he had, in express terms, waived it, and entered his waiver on the record, it would not have given jurisdiction to the court, when the act of Congress had not conferred it.
The objection to the regularity with which the appeal was brought up must also, we presume, have arisen from some oversight in the counsel. The record shows that it has been brought up regularly according to the provisions of the act of Congress. The objection that an appeal will not lie on behalf of the United States, where the claim is less than one thousand acres, is too clearly untenable to require discussion.
And as the petition was not filed within the time limited by law, it is not necessary to examine into the merits or want of merits of the claim. The decree of the District Court must be reversed, and a mandate issued directing the petition to be dismissed.
This cause came on to be heard on the transcript of the record from the District Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Louisiana, and was argued by counsel. On consideration whereof, it is now here ordered, adjudged, and decreed by this court, that the decree of the said District Court in this cause be, and the same is hereby, reversed and annulled; and that this cause be, and the same is hereby, remanded to the said District Court, with directions to dismiss the petition of the claimant.