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CARTER V. GEAR, 197 U. S. 348 (1905)

U.S. Supreme Court

Carter v. Gear, 197 U.S. 348 (1905)

Carter v. Gear

No. 442

Submitted March 3, 1905

Decided April 3, 1905

197 U.S. 348


The statutes of 1892 of the Territory of Hawaii purporting to confer upon the judges of the several courts at chambers, within their respective jurisdictions, judicial power not incident or ancillary to some cause pending before a court are not in conflict with § 81 of the Organic Act of the Territory, approved April 30, 1900, 31 Stat. 141, 157, and the power of the judges to act at chambers was expressly saved by the provision in § 81 continuing the law of Hawaii theretofore in force concerning courts and their jurisdiction until the legislature otherwise ordered, except as otherwise provided in the Organic Act.

In construing the organic act of a territory, the whole act must be considered in order to obtain a comprehensive view of the intention of Congress, and no single section should be segregated and given undue prominence where other sections bear upon the same subject. Whether a petition in a probate proceeding to a court acting as a probate court shall be addressed to, and passed upon by the judge, while sitting in court or at chambers is more a matter of form than of substance.

This was a writ of error to review a judgment of the Supreme Court of the Territory of Hawaii denying a writ of prohibition.

The facts of the case are substantially as follows: on July 27, 1904, one Low, as next friend of Annie T. K. Parker, a minor, filed a petition before the defendant, George D. Gear, judge of the First Judicial Circuit, in probate at chambers, asking for the removal of Alfred W. Carter, plaintiff in error, as guardian of the estate of said minor. He had been originally

Page 197 U. S. 349

appointed such guardian September 29, 1899. The petition was entitled "In the Circuit Court of the First Judicial Circuit, Territory of Hawaii. In Probate. At Chambers," and was in fact filed before the circuit judge sitting at chambers. A demurrer was interposed to the petition upon the ground that the circuit judge had no jurisdiction of the proceedings, for the reason that the statute conferring judicial powers upon the judges at chambers was in conflict with the organic act of the territory.

The demurrer was overruled, and the jurisdiction of the court sustained, apparently with some doubt, by the circuit judge.

This petition for a writ of prohibition was then filed by Carter in the supreme court of the territory against the defendant, Gear, as circuit judge, and Low, the next friend of Annie T. K. Parker, praying that the said circuit judge be prohibited from taking further cognizance of the petition for the removal of Carter or proceeding therein until the further order of the supreme court. After a full hearing, the supreme court affirmed the judgment of the circuit court, and dismissed the petition.

Page 197 U. S. 352

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