Pearce v. Kennedy, 7 Div. 352

CourtSupreme Court of Alabama
Citation166 So. 805,232 Ala. 107
Docket Number7 Div. 352
Decision Date27 February 1936

Rehearing Denied April 9, 1936

Appeal from Circuit Court, Calhoun County; Lamar Field, Judge.

Bill of review by J.E. Pearce against Ada Kennedy. From a decree sustaining a demurrer to the bill, complainant appeals.


W.P McCrossin and Theodore J. Lamar, both of Birmingham, for appellant.

Hugh Walker and Knox, Acker, Sterne & Liles, all of Anniston, for appellee.

GARDNER Justice.

This is a bill of review, to which, speaking generally, the rule applies that the error to be reviewed must be one in substance of prejudice to the party complaining, apparent on the face of the pleadings, proceedings, or decree, and every reasonable presumption must be indulged in favor of the correct ruling of the chancellor, which the record does not affirmatively repel. Mere irregularities which might constitute reversible error on appeal are insufficient for impeachment of a decree otherwise regular. Alexander v Alexander, 227 Ala. 322, 150 So. 142; Hubbard v Vredenburgh Sawmill Co., 226 Ala. 54, 145 So. 320; Jones v. Henderson, 228 Ala. 273, 153 So. 214; McCall v. McCurdy, 69 Ala. 65; Jordan v. Hardie, 131 Ala. 72, 31 So. 504; Hamilton v. Tolley, 209 Ala. 533, 96 So. 584.

And, due to our liberal system of appeal, as observed in Goldsby v. Goldsby, 67 Ala. 560, a bill of review "can rarely become necessary."

The decree here sought to be reviewed and annulled was rendered in May, 1934, in a cause wherein this complainant, as defendant, appeared by counsel and interposed demurrer in October, 1931, after which the cause remained dormant until rendition of the decree. Presumably the case was duly set for hearing, of which defendant therein had notice, and was called for trial in regular order. Thereupon the chancellor overruled the demurrer which had been filed in October, 1931, and on the same day proceeded to a final hearing on pleadings and proof.

This of course was error. A decree pro confesso should first have been entered, no answer being offered and no time allowed therefor by the chancellor (Chancery Rules 30 and 49); and the cause could have then, without question, proceeded to final hearing the following day (section 6602, Code 1923). The cause was not properly at issue, and on appeal reversible error would be made clearly to appear. Smith v. Smith, 212 Ala. 132, 101 So. 903; Loring v. Grummon, 176 Ala. 236, 57 So. 818; McDonald v. McMahon's Adm'r, 66 Ala. 115.

The result is that the submission and decree were premature. Durr v. Hanover National Bank, 148 Ala. 363, 42 So. 599. But the court had jurisdiction of the subject-matter and of the parties, and we are not persuaded such prematurity rendered the decree void (Ex parte Allen, 166 Ala. 111, 52 So. 44), but consider it an irregularity only to be considered on appeal, but beyond the scope of a bill of review.

However irregular it may appear, there may be a waiver of answer and default. 21 Corpus Juris, 647 and 790. Illustrative is the case of Durr v. Hanover National Bank, supra, as to answer, and Davenport v. Bartlett, 9 Ala. 179, as to decree pro confesso, which is therein referred to as "quite a matter of form." Other authorities are found cited in the notes to 21 Corpus Juris, 790, 791, among them Rushing v. Thompson's Ex'rs, 20 Fla. 583, here much in point, and where the failure to take a formal decree pro confesso is referred to as an irregularity only, and as not rendering the final decree void. It was there observed: "It is well settled rule that jurisdiction being obtained over the person and the subject matter, no error in its exercise can make the judgment void. The authority to decide being shown, it cannot be divested by being improperly or incorrectly employed. Freeman on Judgments, § 135 and notes." As previously noted, the only objection as to the final decree here assailed is as to its premature rendition. A somewhat similar question was presented in Vary v. Thompson, 168 Ala. 367, 52 So. 951, where the premature entry of a decree pro confesso on an amended bill was held an irregularity only, and as furnishing no basis for a bill of review.

Nor do we consider the fact that defendant in that case was in default as to the original bill serves as...

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18 cases
  • Valenzuela v. Sellers
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • 24 Febrero 1949
    ...This provision is substantially the same as in old Chancery Rule 30, and in construing the provision, this court held in Pearce v. Kennedy, 232 Ala. 107, 166 So. 805, that where a demurrer had been overruled, there being no answer offered or filed nor time allowed therefor by the chancellor......
  • Valenzuela v. Sellers
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • 24 Febrero 1949
    ...and, under the rule 24, it was incumbent upon the defendants to plead 'forthwith', that is promptly, without delay and as we view it, the Pearce case is directly controlling. See also Thacker Creek Co. v. Smith, 238 Ala. 22, 23, 189 So. 69, to the same effect. Were we to overlook the string......
  • Vaughan v. Vaughan, 2 Div. 359
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • 7 Noviembre 1957
    ... ... Such action is merely an irregularity which must be raised on appeal. Anderson v. Anderson, 250 Ala. 427, 34 So.2d 585; Pearce v. Kennedy, 232 Ala. 107, [267 Ala. 121] 166 So. 805; Vary v. Thompson, 168 Ala. 367, 52 So. 951 ...         We hold that the respondent ... ...
  • Matek v. Matek
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court
    • 6 Noviembre 1945
    ...until the amended bill shall in turn have been taken for confessed for further default on the part of the defendant. Pearce v. Kennedy, 232 Ala. 107, 109, 166 So. 805;Gibson v. Rees, 50 Ill. 383, 406;South Chicago Brewing Co. v. Taylor, 205 Ill. 132, 142, 68 N.E. 732; Fogg v. Merrill, 74 Me......
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