Union Nat Bank of Wichita, Kansas v. Lamb

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Citation93 L.Ed. 1190,337 U.S. 38,69 S.Ct. 911
Docket NumberNo. 500,500
PartiesUNION NAT. BANK OF WICHITA, KANSAS, v. LAMB
Decision Date16 May 1949

See 337 U.S. 928, 69 S.Ct. 1492.

Appeal from Missouri Supreme Court.

Argued by Maurice J. O'Sullivan, Kansas City, Mo. for appellant.

Submitted by Daniel L. Brenner, Kansas City, Mo., for appellee.

Mr. Justice DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Missouri has a statute which limits the life of a judgment to ten years after its original rendition or ten years after its revival.1 Missouri also provides that no judgment can be revived after ten years from its rendition. 2 These provisions are applicable to all judgments whether rendered by a Missouri court or by any other court.

Petitioner has a Colorado judgment against respondent. It was obtained in 1927 and revived in Colorado3 in 1945 in personal service upon respondent in Missouri. Suit was then brought in Missouri on the revived Colorado judgment. The Supreme Court of Missouri, though assuming that the judgment was valid in Colorado, refused to enforce it because the original judgment under Missouri's law could not have been revived in 1945. It held that the lex fori governs the limitations of actions and that the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution, Art. IV, § I, did not require Missouri to recognize olorado's more lenient policy as respects revival of judgments. Mo.Sup., 213 S.W.2d 416.

1. Petitioner sought to bring the case here by appeal. But we postponed the question of jurisdiction to the merits. Certiorari, not appeal, is the route by which the question whether or not full faith and credit has been given a foreign judgment is brought here. Roche v. McDonald, 275 U.S. 449, 48 S.Ct. 142, 72 L.Ed. 365, 53 A.L.R. 1141; Morris v. Jones, 329 U.S. 545, 67 S.Ct. 451, 91 L.Ed. 488, 168 A.L.R. 656. Hence we treat the papers as a petition for certiorari, 28 U.S.C. § 2103, 28 U.S.C.A. § 2103, and grant it.

2. The opinion of the Supreme Court of Missouri was handed down July 12, 1948, and the motion for rehearing or for transfer to the court en banc4 was denied September 13, 1948. The appeal was allowed by the Missouri court on December 13, 1948. That was within three months and therefore timely prior to the revision of the Judical Code. But 28 U.S.C. § 2101(c), 28 U.S.C.A. § 2101(c), effective September 1, 1948, reduced that period to ninety days. The ninetieth day was December 12, 1948, which was a Sunday. There is a contrariety of views whether an act which by statute is required to be done within a stated period may be done a day later when the last day of the period falls on Sunday.5 Thus Street v. United States, 133 U.S. 299, 10 S.Ct. 309, 33 L.Ed. 631, treating Sunday as a dies non under a statute which authorized the President to transfer army officers from active duty and to fill vacancies in the active list on or before January 1, 1871, allowed the action to be taken on the following day. We think the policy of that decision is applicable to 28 U.S.C. § 2101(c), 28 U.S.C.A. § 2101(c). Rule 6(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, 28 U.S.C.A., provides that where the last day for performance of an act falls on a Sunday or a legal holiday, performance on the next day which is not a Sunday or legal holiday is timely.6 That rule provides the method for computation of time prescribed or allowed not only by the rules or by order of court but by 'any applicable statute.' Since the rule had the concurrence of Congress,7 and since no contrary policy is expressed in the statute governing this review, we think that the considerations of liberality and leniency which find expression in Rule 6(a) are equally applicable to 28 U.S.C. § 2101(c), 28 U.S.C.A. § 2101(c). The appeal therefore did not fail for lack of timeliness.

3. Roche v. McDonald is dispositive f the merits. Roche had a Washington judgment against McDonald. He brought suit on that judgment in Oregon. He obtained a judgment in Oregon at a time when the original judgment had by Washington law expired and could not be revived. Roche then sued in Washington on the Oregon judgment. The Court reversed the Supreme Court of Washington, 136 Wash. 322, 239 P. 1015, 44 A.L.R. 444, which had held that full faith and credit need not be given the Oregon judgment since it would have been void and of no effect if rendered in Washington. The Court held that once the court of the sister State had jurisdiction over the parties and of the subject matter its judgment was valid and could not be impeached in the state of the forum, even though it could not have been obtained there. That decision was in line with Fauntleroy v. Lum, 210 U.S. 230, 28 S.Ct. 641, 52 L.Ed. 1039 and Christmas v. Russell, 5 Wall. 290, 18 L.Ed. 475. For in those cases the Court had held that the State of the forum could not defeat the foreign judgment because it was obtained by a procedure hostile to or inconsistent with that of the forum or because it was based on a cause of action which the forum itself would not have recognized.

Any other result would defeat the aim of the Full Faith and Credit Clause and the statute enacted pursuant to it.8 It is when a clash of policies between two states emerges that the need of the Clause is the greatest. It and the statute which implements it are indeed designed to resolve such controversies. Morris v. Jones, supra. There is no room for an exception, as Roche v. McDonald makes plain, where the clash of policies relates to revived judgments rather than to the nature of the underlying claim as in Fauntleroy v. Lum, supra. It is the judgment that must be given full faith and credit. In neither case can its integrity be impaired, save for attacks on the jurisdiction of the court that rendered it.

Cases of statute of limitations against a cause of action on a judgment, McElmoyle for use of Bailey v. Cohen, 13 Pet. 312, 10 L.Ed. 177, in- volve different considerations as Christmas v. Russell, supra, 5 Wall. 290, at page 300, 18 L.Ed. 475, long ago pointed out. They do not undermine the integrity of the judgment on which suit is brought. In this case it is the 1945 Colorado judgment that claims full faith and credit in Missouri. No Missouri statute of limitations is tendered to cut off a cause of action based on judgment of that vintage.

It is argued, however, that under Colorado law the 1945 Colorado judgment is not a new judgment and that the revivor did no more than to extend the statutory period in which to enforce the old judgment.9 It is said that those were the assumptions on which the Missouri court proceeded. But we would have to add to and subtract from its opinion to give it that meaning. For when i placed revived judgments on the same basis as original judgments, it did so because of Missouri not Colorado law.10

This is not a situation where Colorado law also makes that conclusion plain. The Colorado authorities which have been cited to us indeed seem to hold just the opposite. Thus La Fitte v. Salisbury, 43 Colo. 248, 95 P. 1065, holds that a revived judgment has the effect of a new one.11 We are referred to no Colorado authorities to the contrary.

But since the status of the 1945 judgment under Colorado law was not passed upon by the Missouri court, we do not determine the question. For the same reason we do not consider whether the service on which the Colorado judgment was revived satisfied due process. See Owens v. Henry, 161 U.S. 642, 16 S.Ct. 693, 40 L.Ed. 837. Both of those questions will be open on remand of the cause.

The suggestion that we follow the course taken in State of Minnesota v. National Tea Co., 309 U.S. 551, 60 S.Ct. 676, 84 L.Ed. 920, and vacate the judgment and remand the cause to the Missouri court so that it may first pass on these questions would be appropriate only if it were uncertain whether that court adjudicated a federal question. That course is singularly inappropriate here since it is plain that the Missouri court held that, whatever the effect of revivor under Colorado law, the Colorado judgment was not entitled to full faith and credit in Missouri. That holding is a ruling on a federal question and it cannot stand if, as assumed, the Colorado judgment had the force and effect of a new one.

Reversed.

Mr. Justice BLACK and Mr. Justice RUTLEDGE dissent.

Mr. Justice FRANKFURTER, dissenting.

The Court finds that Roche v. McDonald, 275 U.S. 449, 48 S.Ct. 142, 72 L.Ed. 365, 53 A.L.R. 1141, is 'dispositive of the merits' of this case. I agree that that case demands the remand of this one; more than that can be found only by misconceiving what this case is about or what Roche v. McDonald decided

1. Artilce IV, § 1 of the Constitution commands the courts of each State to give 'Full Faith and Credit * * * to the * * * Judicial Proceedings of every other State,' and we have interpreted this command so straitly as to mean that the State of the forum cannot go behind the judgment of a sister State to establish such an allegation as that the judgment was procured by fraud, Christmas v. Russell, 5 Wall. 290, 18 L.Ed. 475, or that the judgment creditor was not the real party in interest, Titus v. Wallick, 306 U.S. 282, 59 S.Ct. 557, 83 L.Ed. 653. We have even required a State which prohibited the enforcement of gambling contracts to give full faith and credit to another State's judgment upon such a contract when the contract itself was entered in the State which regarded it as illegal. Fauntleroy v. Lum, 210 U.S. 230, 28 S.Ct. 641, 52 L.Ed. 1039. See also Kenney v. Supreme Lodge of the World, Loyal Order of Moose, 252 U.S. 411, 40 S.Ct. 371, 64 L.Ed. 638, 10 A.L.R. 716; Morris v. Jones, 329 U.S. 545, 67 S.Ct. 451, 91 L.Ed. 488, 168 A.L.R. 656.

2. Considerations of policy lying behind the Full Faith and Credit Clause, how ever, are by no means so forcibly presented where the issue is simply whether the forum must respect...

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