327 U.S. 742 (1946), 411, United States v. Rice

Docket Nº:No. 411
Citation:327 U.S. 742, 66 S.Ct. 835, 90 L.Ed. 982
Party Name:United States v. Rice
Case Date:April 22, 1946
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 742

327 U.S. 742 (1946)

66 S.Ct. 835, 90 L.Ed. 982

United States

v.

Rice

No. 411

United States Supreme Court

April 22, 1946

Argued February 5, 1946

CERTIFICATE FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE TENTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

1. A circuit court of appeals may not, by mandamus, review a judgment of a district court ordering remand to a state court of a proceeding which had been removed to the district court upon petition of the United States pursuant to § 3 of the Act of April 12, 1926, relating to suits involving title to lands allotted to members of the Five Civilized Tribes in Oklahoma. Pp. 744, 753.

(a) The United States cannot assert, by virtue of its sovereignty, a right of appeal which no statute confers. P. 749.

(b) Section 3 of the Act of April 12, 1926, does not confer upon the Government any right of review of an order remanding a cause

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removed under that Act, and § 2 of the Judiciary Act of 1887, intended to withhold it in all cases of removal from state courts. Pp. 749, 751.

2. Statutory language and objective appealing with reasonable clarity are not to be overcome by resort to a mechanical rule of construction whose function is not to create doubts, but to resolve them, when the real issue or statutory purpose is otherwise obscure. P. 753.

Proceedings were begun in a County Court for administration on the estate of a restricted Indian member of the Five Civilized Tribes in Oklahoma. The County Court appointed administrators. The United States petitioned for an order of removal pursuant to § 3 of the Act of April 12, 1926, 44 Stat. 239. The County Court made its order of removal, and a transcript of the proceedings was filed in the District Court. The United States petitioned for intervention in the District Court and prayed for a determination of the decedent's heirs and of the specific parts of his property which are restricted and subject to the supervision of the Secretary of the Interior. On motion of the administrators appointed by the County Court, the District Court dismissed the petition in intervention without prejudice and remanded the proceeding to the County Court for want of jurisdiction in the District Court. In re Micco's Estate, 59 F.Supp. 434.

The United States applied to the Circuit Court of Appeals for leave to file a petition for a writ of mandamus to direct the District Court to vacate its judgment dismissing the petition for intervention and remanding the proceeding.

Being equally divided on two questions, (1) whether the judgment of remand is reviewable by mandamus, and (2) whether the proceeding was removable under the Act of April 12, 1926, the Circuit Court of Appeals certified a single question for the consideration of this Court:

May this court, by mandamus, review the judgment of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma ordering the remand of the proceeding to the

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County Court of Okfuskee County, Oklahoma?

It further requested this Court to exercise its authority under § 239 of the Judicial Code, "to require the entire record in the cause to be sent up for its consideration and to decide the whole matter in controversy." The Government made a motion to like effect.

The certified question is answered "No," and the Government's motion that this Court order up the entire record is denied. P. 753.

STONE, J., lead opinion

[66 S.Ct. 836] MR. CHIEF JUSTICE STONE delivered the opinion of the Court.

In this case, the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, acting under § 239 of the Judicial Code, 28 U.S.C. § 346, has certified a question of law upon which it desires the instruction of this Court for the proper decision of the cause. The question is whether that court may, by mandamus, review the judgment of the District Court for Eastern Oklahoma ordering the remand of a proceeding to the County Court of Okfuskee County, Oklahoma, from which it had been previously removed to the district court pursuant to § 3 of the Act of April 12, 1926, c. 115, 44 Stat. 239.

The certificate shows that proceedings were begun in the county court by a petition for administration on the estate of Peter Micco, a restricted Indian member of the Five Civilized Tribes in Oklahoma. The county court granted the petition, and appointed administrators. Section 3 of the Act of April 12, 1926, provides that a party to a suit

in the State courts of Oklahoma to which a restricted

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member of the Five Civilized Tribes in Oklahoma, or the restricted heirs or grantees of such Indian are parties, . . . and claiming or entitled to claim title to or an interest in lands allotted to a citizen of the Five Civilized Tribes or the proceeds, issues, rents, and profits derived from the same, may serve written notice of the pendency of such suit upon the Superintendent for the Five Civilized Tribes.

The United States is afforded a specified time after notice is given to appear in the suit, and after such appearance, or the expiration of the time specified, it is provided that

the proceedings and judgment in said cause shall bind the United States and the parties thereto to the same extent as though no Indian land or question were involved.

The Act further provides that

the United States may be, and hereby is, given the right to remove any such suit pending in a State court to the United States district court by filing in such suit in the State court a petition for the removal of such suit into the said United States district court, to be held in the district where such suit is pending, together with the certified copy of the pleadings in such suit. . . . It shall then be the duty of the State court to accept such petition and proceed no further in said suit. The said copy shall be entered in the said district court of the United States . . . , and the defendants and intervenors in said suit shall, within twenty days thereafter, plead, answer, or demur to the declaration or complaint in said cause, and the cause shall then proceed in the same manner as if it has been originally commenced in said district court, and such court is hereby given jurisdiction to hear and determine said suit, and its judgment may be reviewed by certiorari, appeal, or writ of error in like manner as if the suit had been originally brought in said district court.

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