Sivut kuvina

Counsel for Appellee in No. 124.

On January 5, 1889, a final decree was made by the Circuit Court as follows:

“And now, to wit, January 5, 1889, this cause came on to be heard on bill, answers, replication, testimony, and the report of the master with exceptions thereto, and was argued by counsel ; whereupon, upon consideration thereof by the court, it is ordered, adjudged, and decreed that the proceeds of the sale of the real estate that was of Mary McAuley, deceased, situate on Duquesne Way, in the city of Pittsburgh, after deducting expenses attending the same, shall be distributed equally between the Home for the Friendless' and the Home for Aged Protestant Women.'

“And it is further ordered, adjudged, and decreed that the exceptions to the master's report be overruled and the said report confirmed, and that the personal estate of said decedent be distributed among the thirteen first cousins of said decedent to the exclusion of her second cousins in conformity with said master's report, and that unless an appeal be duly entered from this decree within sixty days from this date the administrator is ordered to transfer the stocks and pay out the cash of said decedent's personal estate in accordance with the schedule of distribution reported by the said master, adding the sum of nine dollars and sixty-one cents ($9.61) to the cash share of each of said thirteen distributees to cover the duplicate credit of one hundred and twenty-five dollars ($125) for examiner's fees inadvertently allowed in said master's report.”

From this decree several appeals were taken to this court, two of which remain for consideration, to wit, the appeal of the administrator, and that of Dora McAuley and others, second cousins of the deceased, with their husbands.

Mr. D. T. Watson, for appellant in No. 124, submitted on his brief.

Mr. S. Schoyer, Jr., Mr. Walter Lyon and Mr. M. M. Watson, for appellants, in No. 130, submitted on their brief.

Mr. Thomas Patterson, for the Pittsburgh and Allegheny Home for the Friendless, appellee in No. 124, and Mr. George

Opinion of the Court.

C. Burgwin, for the Home for Aged Protestant Women appellee, in No. 124, submitted on their respective briefs.

Mr. D. F. Patterson, for Sarah Thompson and another, appellees in No. 124. Mr. John W. Donnan and Mr. J. M. McBurney were with him on his brief. Mr. E. P. Jones and Mr. C. W. Jones, for Robert F. McAuley and other appellees, were also on Mr. D. F. Patterson's brief.

MR. JUSTICE BREWER, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court.

It is obvious from the decree which was entered that the Circuit Court of the United States assumed full control of the administration of the estate. That decree disposed of and distributed the entire estate among all the persons interested therein, citizens and non-citizens of the State. It did not stop with an adjudication of the claims of citizens of other States against the estate, but assumed to determine controversies between citizens of the same State, for the two corporations named in the first paragraph were both citizens of Pennsylvania, and yet the decree determined their rights as against the estate, as well as between themselves. Not only that, of both the first and second cousins, between whom, as shown by the last paragraph, distribution was made, some were citizens of the State of Pennsylvania and some of other States, and yet all their claims, as between themselves and as against the estate, were disposed of by this decree.

Indeed, the decree as a whole cannot be sustained, unless upon the theory that the Federal court had the power on the filing of this bill to take bodily the administration of the estate out of the hands of the state court, and transfer it to its own forum. It was not a judgment against the estate, but a decree, binding personally the administrator, and compelling him, subject to the penalties of disobedience of a decree of a court of chancery, to administer the estate according to the orders of the Federal rather than those of the state court which had appointed bim. If we look back of the decree to the proceed

Opinion of the Court.

ings which were had in the Circuit Court, intermediate the filing of the bill and the decree, it will be perceived that that court proceeded as though the entire administration of the estate had been transferred to it from the state court. Thus, on December 3, 1887, the administrator filed in the Circuit Court a petition, commencing as follows: "The petition of A. M. Byers, administrator of all and singular the goods and chattels of Mary McAuley, late of the county of Allegheny, deceased, respectfully shows: That this honorable court has taken jurisdiction of your petitioner as administrator and of the assets of the decedent, which your petitioner has in his hands," setting forth the ownership of 250 shares of railway stock, and praying for an order as to its disposal. Upon the filing of such petition the court directed that notice be given to all counsel of record, and on December 10, made an order for the disposition of the stock. So, on December 24, 1888, the administrator having filed a petition for leave to sell the real estate, the Circuit Court made an order directing the sale,

report of such sale to be made to this court for confirmation, and the proceeds to be held subject to the decree of this court." It is true that the administrator presented like applications to the state court, and obtained like orders, except that in the order for the sale of the real estate there was in terms no command to report the sale for confirmation and hold the proceeds subject to the decree of that court. Evidently the administrator did not know which court had the power to control in these matters the actual administration of the estate; and so, for prudential reasons, applied to and obtained similar orders from both. So both by the terms of the final decree, and by the proceedings in the Circuit Court preliminary thereto, it is clear that the question is fairly presented to us as to the power of the Circuit Court of the United States to interfere with the administration of an estate in a state court. Such a question is of importance. No officer appointed by any court should be placed under the stress which rested upon this administrator, and compelled for his own protection to seek orders from two courts in respect to the administration of the same estate.

Opinion of the Court.

In order to pave the way to a clear understanding of this question, it may be well to state some general propositions which have become fully settled by the decisions of this court; and, first, it is a rule of general application, that where property is in the actual possession of one court of competent jurisdiction, such possession cannot be disturbed by process out of another court. The doctrine has been affirmed again and again by this court. Hagan v. Lucas, 10 Pet. 400; Taylor v. Carryl, 20 How. 583; Peck v. Jenness, 7 How. 612, 625; Freeman v. lIowe, 24 How. 450; Elis v. Davis, 109 U. S. 485, 498; Krippendorf v. IIyde, 110 U. S. 276; Covell v. Heyman, 111 U. S. 176; Borer v. Chapman, 119 U. S. 587, 600. In Covell v. Heyman, supra, the matter was fully discussed, and in the opinion by Mr. Justice Matthews, on p. 179, the rule is stated at length : “The point of the decision in Freeman v. Howe, supra, is that, when property is taken and held under process, mesne or final, of a court of the United States, it is in the custody of the law, and within the exclusive jurisdiction of the court from which the process bas issued, for the purposes of the writ; that the possession of the officer cannot be disturbed by process from any state court, because to disturb that possession would be to invade the jurisdiction of the court by whose command it is held, and to violate the law which that jurisdiction is appointed to administer; that any person, not a party to the suit or judgment, whose property has been wrongfully, but under color of process, taken and withheld, may prosecute, by ancillary proceedings, in the court whence the process issued, his remedy for restitution of the property or its proceeds while remaining in the control of that court, but that all other remedies to which he may be entitled, against officers or parties, not involving the withdrawal of the property or its proceeds, from the custody of the officer and the jurisdiction of the court, he may pursue in any tribunal, state or federal, having jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter. And vice versa, the same principle protects the possession of the property while thus held, by process issuing from state courts, against any disturbance under process of the courts of the United States;

Opinion of the Court.

excepting, of course, those cases wherein the latter exercise jurisdiction for the purpose of enforcing the supremacy of the Constitution and laws of the United States."

Secondly. An administrator appointed by a state court is an officer of that court; his possession of the decedent's property is a possession taken in obedience to the orders of that court; it is the possession of the court, and it is a possession which cannot be disturbed by any other court. Upon this proposition we have direct decisions of this court. In Williams v. Benedict, 8 How. 107, 112, it is said: “ As, therefore, the judgment obtained by the plaintiffs in the court below did not entitle them to a prior lien, or a right of satisfaction in preference to the other creditors of the insolvent estate, they have no right to take in execution the property of the deceased which the probate court has ordered to be sold for the purpose of an equal distribution among all creditors. The jurisdiction of that court has attached to the assets; they are in gremio legis. And if the marshal were permitted to seize them under an execution, it would not only cause manifest injustice to be done to the rights of others, but be the occasion of an unpleasant conflict between courts of separate and independent jurisdiction."

And in Yonley v. Lavender, 21 Wall. 276, it was held that where the statute of a State places the whole estate, real and personal, of the decedent within the custody of the probate court of a county, a non-resident creditor may get a judgment in the Federal court against the resident executor or administrator, and come in under the law of the State for such payment as that law marshalling the rights of creditors awards to creditors of his class; but he cannot, because he has obtained a judgment in the Federal court, issue execution, and take precedence of other creditors who have no right to sue in the Federal courts; and if he do issue execution and sell the lands, the sale is void. And in the course of the opinion, on p. 280, it was observed : “The administration laws of Arkansas are not merely rules of practice for the courts, but laws limiting the rights of parties, and will be observed by the Federal courts in the enforcement of individual rights. These laws, on the death of DuBose and the appointment of his ad


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