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FOWLER V. LINDSEY, 3 U. S. 411 (1799)

U.S. Supreme Court

Fowler v. Lindsey, 3 U.S. 3 Dall. 411 411 (1799)

Fowler v. Lindsey

3 U.S. (3 Dall.) 411


A case which belongs to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court on account of the interest a state has in the controversy must be a case in which a state is either nominally or substantially a party. It is not sufficient that a state may be consequentially affected.

Where a question of jurisdiction exists between different states of the union, one state may file in this Court a bill against the other praying to be quieted as to the boundaries of the disputed territories, and the Court, in order to effectuate justice, may appoint commissioners to report those boundaries. There being no redress at law would be a sufficient reason for the interposition of the equitable powers of the Court.

A certiorari is not a proper proceeding to issue from a superior to an inferior court to remove a cause merely from a defect of jurisdiction.

If a state is really a party to a suit in an inferior court, a plea to the jurisdiction may be put in there, or perhaps without such a plea this Court would revise the judgment on a writ of error.

A decision between individuals upon the right of soil cannot affect the right of a state to jurisdiction over the same.

A certiorari can only issue as original process to remove a cause and change the venue where the superior court is satisfied that a fair and impartial trial will not otherwise be obtained, and it is sometimes used as auxiliary process where, for instance, diminution is alleged on a writ of error, but in such cases the superior court must have jurisdiction of the controversy.

A rule had been originally obtained in these actions (which were depending in the Circuit Court for the District of Connecticut) at the instance of the defendants requiring the plaintiff to show cause why a venire should not be awarded to summon a jury from some district other than that of Connecticut or New York, but it was changed by consent into a rule to show cause why the actions should not be removed by certiorari into the Supreme Court as exclusively belonging to that jurisdiction. On showing cause, it appeared that suits in the nature of ejectments had been instituted in the Circuit Court for the District of Connecticut to recover a tract of land, being part of the Connecticut gore which that state had granted to Andrew Ward and Jeremiah Hasley, and by whom it had been conveyed to the plaintiffs. The defendants pleaded that they were inhabitants of the State of New York; that the premises for which the suits were brought lay in the County of Steuben in the State of New York, and that the Circuit Court for the District of New York or the courts of the state, and no other court, could take cognizance of the actions. The plaintiffs replied that the premises lay in the State of Connecticut, and issue being joined, a venire was awarded. On the return, however, the defendants challenged the array because the Marshal of the District of Connecticut, a resident and citizen of that state, had arrayed the jury by his deputy, who was also a citizen of Connecticut and interested as a purchaser or claimant in the Connecticut gore under the same title as the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs prayed oyer of the record and return, averred that the deputy marshal was not interested in the question in issue, and demurred to the challenge for being double and contrary to the record, which does not show that the jury was returned by the deputy marshal. The defendants joined in demurrer. The court overruled the challenge as it respected the general interest of the marshal and his deputy owing to their being citizens of Connecticut, but allowed it and quashed the array on account of the particular

Page 3 U. S. 412

interest of the deputy, he being interested in the same tract of land under color of the same title as the plaintiffs.

That amended rule was argued, by Lewis and Hoffman (the Attorney General of New York), in favor of its being made absolute, and by Hillhouse of Connecticut against it, on the question, whether the suits ought to be considered as virtually depending between the States of Connecticut and New York. And the following opinions were delivered by the Court, THE CHIEF JUSTICE, however, declining, on account of the interest of Connecticut, to take any part in the decision, and CHASE and IREDELL, JUSTICES, being absent on account of indisposition.

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