BORER V. CHAPMAN, 119 U. S. 587 (1887)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Borer v. Chapman, 119 U.S. 587 (1887)

Borer v. Chapman

Argued December 13-14, 1886

Decided January 10, 1887

119 U.S. 587


A, a citizen of New Jersey, recovered judgment in a civil action on a contract against B, a citizen of Minnesota, whose property and estate were situated principally in California. B died leaving a will by which he devised real estate and bequeathed legacies to various persons in Minnesota.

Page 119 U. S. 588

The will was admitted to probate in Minnesota, and letters testamentary thereon were issued to C and D. Ancillary proof of it was then made in California, and letters testamentary thereon were issued to D, who administered the estate in California in accordance with the laws of that state and distributed it according to the will, and rendered a final account to the probate court in California, and was discharged by that court. A did not present his claim for payment in California, and has never been paid. He brought suit on it in Minnesota against C as executor. C appeared and, among other defenses, denied that he was or ever had been executor. The court found that C had accepted the trust, and entered judgment for A, on which judgment execution was awarded de bonis propriis. C brought the judgment to this Court by writ of error, and died while it was pending here. His executor appeared, and on his motion the judgment was reversed as erroneous in form, Smith v. Chapman, 93 U. S. 41, and, the cause being remanded, the court on the previous finding entered judgment for A nunc pro tunc as of the date of the first judgment. A, within twelve months from the date when the last judgment nunc pro tunc was ordered, commenced suit in Minnesota to recover the amount of his judgment, the statute of that state giving to the unpaid creditors of a testator a right of action against legatees, provided the action is allowed within one year from the time when the claim is established, and courts of Minnesota having settled that the claim must first be established by judicial proceedings, and that the suit against the legatees must be brought within one year from the date of such establishment.


(1) That the former judgment in this Court concluded the executor of C in this suit from contending C had not accepted the trust as executor.

(2) That A was not barred by the proceedings and decrees in California from the prosecution of the suit.

(3) That he had the right to follow into the hands of their holders in Minnesota the assets of B which had been distributed by order of the probate court in California.

(4) That there was nothing to interfere with that right in the provision of the Constitution respecting the faith to be given to judgments and public acts of each state in every other state.

(5) That this action was not barred by the limitation in the Minnesota statute.

Whether an order for entry of judgment nunc pro tunc shall be made is matter of discretion with the court, to be exercised as justice may require in view of the circumstances of the particular case, and it is a proper exercise of that discretion when, by reason of the intervening death of a party, there would otherwise be a failure of justice for which the other party is not responsible.

The equity jurisdiction of this Court is independent of that conferred by the states on their own courts, and can be affected only by the legislation of Congress.

Page 119 U. S. 589

For the purpose of a statute of limitations, the date of the entry of a judgment nunc pro tunc is the date of the order of such entry, and not the day as of which the judgment is ordered to take effect.

This was a bill in equity filed by the defendant in error, complainant below, to enforce payment of a judgment rendered against one John Cordon in his lifetime out of assets belonging to the estate of Gordon which had come into the possession of the various defendants, either as executors or administrators or as devisees or legatees under his will. The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.

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