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limited by that instrument, they possess and exercise the authority of independent States, and the principles of public law to which we have referred are applicable to them. One of these principles is, that every State possesses exclusive jurisdiction and sovereignty over persons and property within its territory. As a consequence, every State has the power to determine for itself the civil status and capacities of its inhabitants; to prescribe the subjects upon which they may contract, the forms and solemnities with which their contracts shall be executed, the rights and obligations arising from them, and the mode in which their validity shall be determined and their obligations enforced; and also to regulate the manner and conditions upon which property situated within such territory, both personal and real, may be acquired, enjoyed, and transferred. The other principle of public law referred to follows from the one mentioned; that is, that no State can exercise direct jurisdiction and authority over persons or property without its territory. Story, Confl. Laws, c. 2; Wheat. Int. Law, pt. 2, c. 2. The several States are of equal dignity and authority, and the independence of one implies the exclusion of power from all others. And so it is laid down by jurists, as an elementary principle, that the laws of one State have no operation outside of its territory, except so far as is allowed by comity; and that no tribunal established by it can extend its process beyond that territory so as to subject either persons or property to its decisions.1 "Any exertion of authority of this sort beyond this limit," says Story, "is a mere nullity, and incapable of binding such persons or property in any other tribunals." Story, Confl. Laws, sect. 539.2 . .

The want of authority of the tribunals of a State to adjudicate upon the obligations of non-residents, where they have no property within its limits, is not denied by the court below: but the position is assumed, that, where they have property within the State, it is immaterial whether the property is in the first instance brought under the control of the court by attachment or some other equivalent act, and afterwards applied by its judgment to the satisfaction of demands against its owner; or such demands be first established in a personal action, and the property of the non-resident be afterwards seized and sold on execution. But the answer to this position has already been given in the statement, that the jurisdiction of the court to inquire into and determine his obligations at all is only incidental to its jurisdiction over the property. Its jurisdiction in that respect cannot be made to depend upon facts to be ascertained after it has tried the cause and rendered the judgment. If the judgment be pre


1 See Buchanan v. Rucker, 9 East 161, 191 (K. B. 1808) (judgment of Island Court of Tobago against absent nonresident).

2 A discussion of the jurisdiction of the states over their own residents and over property located therein is omitted.

3 Cf. Geary v. Geary, 272 N. Y. 390 (1936).

viously void, it will not become valid by the subsequent discovery of property of the defendant, or by his subsequent acquisition of it. The judgment, if void when rendered, will always remain void: it cannot occupy the doubtful position of being valid if property be found, and void if there be none. Even if the position assumed were confined to cases where the non-resident defendant possessed property in the State at the commencement of the action, it would still make the validity of the proceedings and judgment depend upon the question whether, before the levy of the execution, the defendant had or had not disposed of the property. If before the levy the property should be sold, then, according to this position, the judgment would not be binding. This doctrine would introduce a new element of uncertainty in judicial proceedings. The contrary is the law: the validity of every judgment depends upon the jurisdiction of the court before it is rendered, not upon what may occur subsequently.1

Since the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Federal Constitution, the validity of such judgments may be directly questioned, and their enforcement in the State resisted, on the ground that proceedings in a court of justice to determine the personal rights and obligations of parties over whom that court has no jurisdiction do not constitute due process of law. Whatever difficulty may be experienced in giving to those terms a definition which will embrace every permissible exertion of power affecting private rights, and exclude such as is forbidden, there can be no doubt of their meaning when applied to judicial proceedings. They then mean a course of legal proceedings according to those rules and principles which have been established in our systems of jurisprudence for the protection and enforcement of private rights. To give such proceedings any validity, there must be a tribunal competent by its constitution — that is, by the law of its creation - to pass upon the subject-matter of the suit; and, if that involves merely a determination of the personal liability of the defendant, he must be brought within its jurisdiction by service of process within the State, or his voluntary appearance.2. ...

It follows from the views expressed that the personal judgment recovered in the State court of Oregon against the plaintiff herein, then a non-resident of the State, was without any validity, and did not authorize a sale of the property in controversy.3

Neither do we mean to assert that a State may not require a nonresident entering into a partnership or association within its limits, or making contracts enforceable there, to appoint an agent or rep

1 A discussion of the circumstances under which state judgments are entitled to full faith and credit in the federal courts is omitted.

2 A discussion of service by publication in proceedings in rem is omitted. 3 Most of the remainder of the opinion of Field, J., in which he distinguished the situation where a state sought to determine the status of one of its citizens toward a nonresident, is omitted.

resentative in the State to receive service of process and notice in legal proceedings instituted with respect to such partnership, association, or contracts, or to designate a place where such service may be made and notice given, and provide, upon their failure, to make such appointment or to designate such place that service may be made. upon a public officer designated for that purpose, or in some other prescribed way, and that judgments rendered upon such service may not be binding upon the non-residents both within and without the State. As was said by the Court of Exchequer in Vallee v. Dumergue, 4 Exch. 290, "It is not contrary to natural justice that a man who has agreed to receive a particular mode of notification of legal proceedings should be bound by a judgment in which that particular mode of notification has been followed, even though he may not have actual notice of them." See also The Lafayette Insurance Co. v. French et al., 18 How. 404, and Gillespie v. Commercial Mutual Marine Insurance Co., 12 Gray (Mass.), 201. Nor do we doubt that a State, on creating corporations or other institutions for pecuniary or charitable purposes, may provide a mode in which their conduct may be investigated, their obligations enforced, or their charters revoked, which shall require other than personal service upon their officers or members. Parties becoming members of such corporations or institutions would hold their interest subject to the conditions prescribed by law. Copin v. Adamson, Law Rep. 9 Ex. 345.

In the present case, there is no feature of this kind, and, consequently, no consideration of what would be the effect of such legislation in enforcing the contract of non-resident can arise. The question here respects only the validity of a money judgment rendered in one State, in an action upon a simple contract against the resident of another, without service of process upon him, or his appearance therein.

MR. JUSTICE HUNT dissenting.1

Judgment affirmed.

That a State can subject land within its limits belonging to nonresident owners to debts due to its own citizens as it can legislate upon all other local matters; that it can prescribe the mode and process by which it is to be reached, seems to me very plain.

I am not willing to declare that a sovereign State cannot subject the land within its limits to the payment of debts due to its citizens, or that the power to do so depends upon the fact whether its statute shall authorize the property to be levied upon at the commencement of the suit or at its termination. This is a matter of detail, and I am of opinion, that if reasonable notice be given, with an opportunity to defend when appearance is made, the question of power will be fully satisfied.

1 The major part of the dissenting opinion is omitted.


IF the plaintiff obtains a valid personal judgment against the defendant, he may obtain execution thereon in the state in which the judgment was rendered. Usually the judgment cannot be enforced in a different county of the same state unless and until a certified copy of the judgment is registered in the proper office in that county. The plaintiff may bring an action on the judgment in the state in which it was rendered or in another state. In an action brought on the judgment it is necessary that the court in which the action is brought should have jurisdiction of the judgment debtor or of his property. In such an action the plaintiff does not declare upon his original cause of action, for that has been merged in the judgment; but he declares upon the judgment. If the court rendering the original judgment had jurisdiction of the defendant, the courts of other states must give the judgment full faith and credit.1

A judgment rendered in one state will not be executed in a different state; it is necessary for the judgment creditor to obtain a new judgment in that state. The British Parliament in 1920 provided that a judgment obtained against a defendant in a superior court in any part of the British dominions outside the United Kingdom may be registered in the Hight Court in England or Ireland or in the Court of Session in Scotland, and that the judgment when so registered shall have the same force and effect as though it had been originally obtained in the registering court.2 There is a similar statute in the Australian Commonwealth. There is no similar proceeding available for registering in one of the United States a judgment rendered in any other state; nor even, except in certain special cases, for registering in another federal district a judgment obtained in one of the district courts of the United States.


In the Restatement of Judgments (1942) § 14, it is stated that: "A personal judgment is void if it is rendered by a court which has no jurisdiction over the defendant." Where the judgment is void for lack of jurisdiction over the defendant, it is open to collateral attack. The invalidity of the judgment can be shown by the defendant when a suit is brought against him on the judgment, either in the

1 U. S. Const., Art. IV, §1: "Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof." 2 Administration of Justice Act, 1920, 10 & 11 Geo. V, c. 81, §§ 9-14.

3 Service and Execution of Process Act, 1901-1934, 3 Commonwealth Laws (McGrath & O'Sullivan, 1932) 2335-2338, as amended by Statute Law Revision Act, Commonwealth Acts 1934, No. 45.

4 See Cook, "The Powers of Congress under the Full Faith and Credit Clause," 28 Yale L. J. 421 (1919).

same state or in another state. Since the judgment is void, the courts of the other state are not bound to give it full faith and credit. Where the judgment is void, the plaintiff's original cause of action is not merged in the judgment. Accordingly, if the plaintiff sues on the original cause of action, and the defendant sets up the prior judgment as a defense, the plaintiff may himself show that the judgment was void for lack of jurisdiction over the defendant.1



83 Alabama 284.

CLOPTON, J. The action was brought by appellee in the Circuit Court of Walker county, to recover the amount due on a promissory note made by appellant. The defendant filed a plea to the jurisdiction of the court, on the ground that, at the commencement of the suit, and of the service of process, he was a resident citizen of Maryland. The assignments of error only relate to the ruling of the court, sustaining a demurrer to the plea. The summons was served on the defendant in person by the sheriff. The plea does not negative his presence in the county at the time of service; and fails to aver that he was induced by false representations, or by any artifice, to come within the jurisdiction of the court, for the purpose of obtaining service of process upon him.

The general rule is, that every country has jurisdiction over all persons found within its territorial limits, for the purposes of actions in their nature transitory. It is not a debatable question, that such actions may be maintained in any jurisdiction in which the defendant may be found, and is legally served with process. However transiently the defendant may have been in the State, the summons having been legally served upon him, the jurisdiction of his person was complete, in the absence of a fraudulent inducement to come. - Peabody v. Hamilton, 106 Mass. 217; 76 Amer. Dec., note, 667; Whar. Con. Laws, § § 738, 739. The statute providing that suits against a resident free-holder or house-holder must be brought in the county of his residence, has no application.


1 See McDonald v. Mabee, 243 U. S. 90 (1917), p. 502, infra.

2 See, accord, Darrah v. Watson, 36 Ia. 116, 120 (1872); Alley v. Caspari, 80 Me. 234 (1888); Thompson v. Cowell, 148 Mass. 552 (1889). So although the plaintiff is also a nonresident. See Lee v. Baird, 139 Ala. 526 (1903); Peabody v. Hamilton, 106 Mass. 217 (1870). As to discretionary refusal to entertain suits between nonresidents on foreign causes of action, see Douglas v. New York, N. H. & H. R. R. Co., 279 U. S. 77 (1929).

The method of effecting personal service is regulated by statutes in the several states. The usual method is by delivery of a copy of the summons,

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