Markham v. Allen, No. 60

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtSTONE
Citation90 L.Ed. 256,66 S.Ct. 296,326 U.S. 490
PartiesMARKHAM, Alien Property Custodian v. ALLEN et al
Docket NumberNo. 60
Decision Date07 January 1946

326 U.S. 490
66 S.Ct. 296
90 L.Ed. 256
MARKHAM, Alien Property Custodian

v.

ALLEN et al.

No. 60.
Argued and Submitted Dec. 5, 1945.
Decided Jan. 7, 1946.

Page 491

Mr. M. S. Isenbergh, of Washington, D.C., for petitioner.

Mr. Joseph Wahrhaftig, of San Francisco, Cal., for respondents.

Mr. Chief Justice STONE delivered the opinion of the Court.

The question is whether a district court of the United States has jurisdiction of a suit brought by the Alien Property Custodian against an executor and resident heirs

Page 492

to determine the Custodian's asserted right to share in decedent's estate which is in course of probate administration in a state court.

On January 23, 1943, petitioner, the Alien Property Custodian, acting under § 5(b)(1)(B) of the Trading with the Enemy Act, as amended by First War Powers Act 1941 § 301, 55 Stat. 839, 50 U.S.C.App., Supp. IV, § 616, 50 U.S.C.A. Appendix § 616, and Executive Order No. 9095, as amended by Executive Order 9193, 50 U.S.C.A.Appendix § 6 note, 3 Code Fed.Reg. (Cum.Supp.) 1121, issued vesting order No. 762, by which he purported to vest in himself as Custodian all right, title and interest of German legatees in the estate of Alvina Wagner, who died testate, a resident of California, whose will was admitted to probate and whose estate is being administered in the Superior Court of California. Previously, on December 30, 1942, six of the other heirs-at-law of decedent, residing in the United States, filed a petition in the Superior Court of California for determination of heirship, asserting that under the provisions of California Statutes, 1941, chap. 895, p. 2473, § 1,1 the German legatees were ineligible as beneficiaries, and that the American heirs were therefore entitled to inherit decedent's estate. This proceeding is still pending.

On April 6, 1943, the Custodian brought the present suit in the district court for the northern district of California against the executor and the six California claimants, seeking a judgment determining that the resident claimants have no interest in the estate, and that the Custodian, by virtue of his vesting order, is entitled to the entire net estate of the decedent after payment of expenses of administration, debts, and taxes, and is the owner of specified real estate of decedent passing under the will. The complaint prayed that the executor be ordered to pay the entire net estate to the Custodian upon the allowance by

Page 493

the state court of the executor's final account. On motion of respondents to strike the complaint, and on petitioner's motion for judgment on the pleadings, the district court gave judgment for petitioner, Crowley v. Allen, 52 F.Supp. 850. The court held that it had jurisdiction to enforce the vesting order of petitioner; that its jurisdiction is derived from the Constitution and laws of the United States and is not subject to restriction or ouster by state legislation; and that California Statutes, 1941, chap. 895, § 1, is invalid. The judgment declared that petitioner had acquired the interests of the German nationals in the estate of decedent; that none of respondents have any right, title or interest in the estate; and that petitioner is entitled to receive the net estate in distribution after payment of expenses of administration, debts and taxes.

Without passing upon the merits, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed and ordered the cause dismissed, upon the ground that the district court was without jurisdiction of the subject matter of the action. 147 F.2d 136. The court thought that since 'the matter is within probate jurisdiction and that court is in possession of the property, its right to proceed to determine heirship cannot be interfered with by the federal court.'

It is not denied that the present suit is a suit 'of a civil nature * * * in equity,' brought by an officer of the United States, authorized to sue, of which district courts are given jurisdiction by § 24(1), 28 U.S.C. § 41(1), of the Judicial Code, 28 U.S.C.A. § 41(1). But respondents argue, as the Circuit Court of Appeals held, that as the district courts of the United...

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519 practice notes
  • Community Ins. Co. v. Rowe, No. C-3-98-422.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • August 12, 1999
    ...582, 16 L.Ed. 226 (1859) ], divests the federal courts of power to issue divorce, alimony, and child custody decrees."); Markham v. Allen, 326 U.S. 490, 494, 66 S.Ct. 296, 90 L.Ed. 256 (1946) (probate exception to diversity One such limitation to subject matter jurisdiction is the probate e......
  • United States v. Blake, No. 12–CV–2577 (ADS)(ARL).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • April 20, 2013
    ...(internal quotation marks omitted); see [942 F.Supp.2d 295]also Dulce v. Dulce, 233 F.3d 143, 145 (2d Cir.2000) (quoting Markham v. Allen, 326 U.S. 490, 494, 66 S.Ct. 296, 90 L.Ed. 256 (1946)) (“[A] federal court has no jurisdiction to probate a will or administer an estate.”). Of importanc......
  • Windbourne v. Eastern Air Lines, Inc., No. 76 C 237
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • May 11, 1979
    ...general jurisdiction of the probate or control of the property in the custody of the state court." Id. at 50, quoting Markham v. Allen, 326 U.S. 490, 494, 66 S.Ct. 296, 90 L.Ed. 256 (1946) and Waterman v. Canal-Louisiana Bank & Trust Co., 215 U.S. 33, 43, 30 S.Ct. 10, 54 L.Ed. 80 (1909) (em......
  • Banco Nacional de Cuba v. Farr
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • July 30, 1965
    ...U.S. 478, 60 S.Ct. 628, 84 L.Ed. 876 (1940), and Byers v. McAuley, 149 U.S. 608, 13 S.Ct. 906, 37 L.Ed. 867 (1893), with Markham v. Allen, 326 U.S. 490, 66 S.Ct. 296, 90 L.Ed. 256 (1946); City of Atlanta v. Ickes, 308 U.S. 517, 60 S.Ct. 170, 84 L.Ed. 440 (1939) (per curiam), with Associated......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
519 cases
  • Community Ins. Co. v. Rowe, No. C-3-98-422.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. Southern District of Ohio
    • August 12, 1999
    ...582, 16 L.Ed. 226 (1859) ], divests the federal courts of power to issue divorce, alimony, and child custody decrees."); Markham v. Allen, 326 U.S. 490, 494, 66 S.Ct. 296, 90 L.Ed. 256 (1946) (probate exception to diversity One such limitation to subject matter jurisdiction is the probate e......
  • United States v. Blake, No. 12–CV–2577 (ADS)(ARL).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • April 20, 2013
    ...(internal quotation marks omitted); see [942 F.Supp.2d 295]also Dulce v. Dulce, 233 F.3d 143, 145 (2d Cir.2000) (quoting Markham v. Allen, 326 U.S. 490, 494, 66 S.Ct. 296, 90 L.Ed. 256 (1946)) (“[A] federal court has no jurisdiction to probate a will or administer an estate.”). Of importanc......
  • Windbourne v. Eastern Air Lines, Inc., No. 76 C 237
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of New York)
    • May 11, 1979
    ...general jurisdiction of the probate or control of the property in the custody of the state court." Id. at 50, quoting Markham v. Allen, 326 U.S. 490, 494, 66 S.Ct. 296, 90 L.Ed. 256 (1946) and Waterman v. Canal-Louisiana Bank & Trust Co., 215 U.S. 33, 43, 30 S.Ct. 10, 54 L.Ed. 80 (1909) (em......
  • Banco Nacional de Cuba v. Farr
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • July 30, 1965
    ...U.S. 478, 60 S.Ct. 628, 84 L.Ed. 876 (1940), and Byers v. McAuley, 149 U.S. 608, 13 S.Ct. 906, 37 L.Ed. 867 (1893), with Markham v. Allen, 326 U.S. 490, 66 S.Ct. 296, 90 L.Ed. 256 (1946); City of Atlanta v. Ickes, 308 U.S. 517, 60 S.Ct. 170, 84 L.Ed. 440 (1939) (per curiam), with Associated......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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