155 U.S. 76 (1894), 591, United States v. Coe

Docket Nº:No. 591
Citation:155 U.S. 76, 15 S.Ct. 16, 39 L.Ed. 76
Party Name:United States v. Coe
Case Date:October 29, 1894
Court:United States Supreme Court

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155 U.S. 76 (1894)

15 S.Ct. 16, 39 L.Ed. 76

United States



No. 591

United States Supreme Court

October 29, 1894

        Submitted October 9, 1894




        The provisions in the Act of March 3, 1891, c. 539, 26 Stat. 854, "to establish a Court of Private Land Claims and to provide for the settlement of private land claims in certain states and territories," authorizing this Court to amend the proceedings of the court below and to cause additional testimony to be taken, are not mandatory, but only empower the Court to direct further proofs and to amend the record if in its judgment the case demands its interposition to that effect.

        The judicial action of all inferior courts established by Congress may, in accordance with the Constitution, be subjected to the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of the United States.

        An appeal lies to this Court from a judgment of the Court of Private Land Claims over property in the territories.

        Motion to dismiss for want of jurisdiction. The case was as follows:

       [15 S.Ct. 16] On March 3, 1891, an act of Congress was approved entitled "An act to establish a Court of Private Land Claims and to provide for the settlement of private land claims in certain states and territories." 26 Stat. 854, c. 539.

        By the first section it was provided:

That there shall be, and hereby is, established a court to be called the Court of Private Land Claims, to consist of a chief justice and four associate justices, who shall be, when appointed, citizens and residents of some of the states of the United States, to be

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appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to hold their offices for the term expiring on the thirty-first day of December, Anno Domini eighteen hundred and ninety-five; any three of whom [15 S.Ct. 17] shall constitute a quorum. Said court shall have and exercise jurisdiction in the hearing and decision of private land claims according to the provisions of this act.

        Under section six, it was made lawful

for any person or persons or corporation, or their legal representatives, claiming lands within the limits of the territory derived by the United States from the Republic of Mexico and now embraced within the Territories of New Mexico, Arizona, or Utah, or within the states of Nevada, Colorado, or Wyoming by virtue of any such Spanish or Mexican grant, concession, warrant, or survey as the United States are bound to recognize and confirm by virtue of the treaties of cession of said country by Mexico to the United States which at the date of the passage of this act have not been confirmed by act of Congress, or otherwise finally decided upon by lawful authority, and which are not already complete and perfect, in every such case to present a petition, in writing, to the said court in the state or territory where said land is situated and where the said court holds its sessions, but cases arising in the states and territories in which the court does not hold regular sessions may be instituted at such place as may be designated by the rules of the court.

        Section seven provided:

That all proceedings subsequent to the filing of said petition shall be conducted as near as may be according to the practice of the courts of equity of the United States, except that the answer of the attorney of the United States shall not be required to be verified by his oath, and except that, as far as practicable, testimony shall be taken in court or before one of the justices thereof. The said court shall have full power and authority to hear and determine all questions arising in cases before it relative to the title to the land the subject of such case, the extent, location, and boundaries thereof, and other matters connected therewith fit and proper to be heard and determined, and by a final decree to settle and determine the question of the validity of the title

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and the boundaries of the grant or claim presented for adjudication, according to the law of nations, the stipulations of the treaty concluded between the United States and the Republic of Mexico at...

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