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CITIZENS' SAVINGS AND TRUST COMPANY v. ILLINOIS CENTRAL RAILROAD COMPANY

March 4, 1907

CITIZENS' SAVINGS AND TRUST COMPANY
v.
ILLINOIS CENTRAL RAILROAD COMPANY



APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS

Fuller, Harlan, Brewer, White, Peckham, McKenna, Holmes, Day, Moody

Author: Harlan

[ 205 U.S. Page 53]

 MR. JUSTICE HARLAN, after making the foregoing statement, delivered the opinion of the court.

This case is here upon a certificate as to the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court.

The Eastern District of Illinois was created by the act of Congress approved March 3d, 1905, c. 1427. 33 Stat. 992, 995. The present suit in equity was, as we have stated, instituted in the Circuit Court for that District, but its jurisdiction was denied by the judgment below upon the ground solely that each defendant railroad corporation was shown to be an inhabitant of the Northern District of Illinois, not of the Eastern District, and, therefore, this suit was not local to the latter District.

By the eighth section of the act of March 3d, 1875, determining the jurisdiction of the Circuit Courts of the United States, it was provided: "That when in any suit, commenced in any circuit court of the United States, to enforce any legal or equitable lien upon, or claim to, or to remove any incumbrance or lien or cloud upon the title to real or personal property within the district where such suit is brought, one or more of the defendants therein shall not be an inhabitant of, or found within, the said district, or shall not voluntarily appear thereto, it shall be lawful for the court to make an order directing such absent defendant or defendants to appear, plead, answer, or demur, by a day certain to be designated, which order shall be served on such absent defendant or defendants, if practicable, wherever found, and also upon the person or persons in possession or charge of said property, if any there be; or where such personal service upon such absent defendant or defendants is not practicable, such order shall be published in such manner as the court may direct, not less than once a week for six consecutive weeks; and in case such absent defendant shall not appear, plead, answer, or demur within the time so limited, or within some further time, to be allowed by the court, in its discretion,

[ 205 U.S. Page 54]

     and upon proof of the service or publication of said order, and of the performance of the directions contained in the same, it shall be lawful for the court to entertain jurisdiction, and proceed to the hearing and adjudication of such suit in the same manner as if such absent defendant had been served with process within the said district; but said adjudication shall, as regards said absent defendant or defendants without appearance, affect only the property which shall have been the subject of the suit and under the jurisdiction of the court therein, within such district," etc. 18 Stat. 470, 472, c. 137.

These provisions were substantially those embodied in § 738 of the Revised Statutes, except that the act of 1875 embraced (as § 738 did not) suits in equity "to remove any encumbrance or lien or cloud upon the title to real or personal property." Both section 738 and the act of 1875 related to legal and equitable liens or claims on real and personal property within the district where the suit was brought.

The repealing clause of the Judiciary Act of 1887-1888 did not reach the 8th section of the act of 1875. That section is still in force, as was expressly held in Jellenik v. Huron Copper Mining Co., 177 U.S. 1, 10.

We are then to inquire as to the scope of the eighth section of the above act of 1875. And that inquiry involves the question whether this suit is one "to enforce any legal or equitable lien upon, or claim to, or to remove any encumbrance or lien or cloud upon the title, to real or personal property" within the Eastern District of Illinois where the suit was brought.

In Mellen v. Moline Malleable Iron Works, 131 U.S. 352, we had occasion to examine the provisions of the act of 1875. A question there arose as to the jurisdiction of a Circuit Court of the United States to render a decree annulling a trust deed and chattel mortgage covering property within the district where the suit was brought, in which suit the defendants did not appear, ...


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