WILLIAMS V. NORTH CAROLINA, 325 U. S. 226 (1945)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Williams v. North Carolina, 325 U.S. 226 (1945)

Williams v. North Carolina

No. 84

Argued October 13, 1944

Decided May 21, 1945

325 U.S. 226


1. A man and a woman, domiciled in North Carolina, left their spouses in North Carolina, obtained decrees of divorce in Nevada, married, and returned to North Carolina to live. Prosecuted in North Carolina for bigamous cohabitation, they pleaded the Nevada divorce decrees in defense, but were convicted.

Held: that, upon the record, the judgments of conviction were not invalid as denying the Nevada divorce decrees the full faith and credit required by Art. IV, § 1 of the Constitution. Pp. 325 U. S. 234, 325 U. S. 236.

2. A decree of divorce rendered in one State may be collaterally impeached in another by proof that the court which rendered the decree had no jurisdiction, even though the record of the proceedings in that court purports to show jurisdiction. P. 325 U. S. 229.

3. Under our system of law, judicial power to grant a divorce -- jurisdiction, strictly speaking -- is founded on domicil. P. 325 U. S. 229.

4. As to the truth or existence of a fact, like that of domicil, upon which depends the power to exert judicial authority, a State not a party to the exertion of such judicial authority in another State, but seriously affected by it, has a right, when asserting its own unquestioned authority, to ascertain the truth or existence of that crucial fact. P. 325 U. S. 230.

5. Punishment of a person for an act as a crime, when ignorant of the facts making it so, does not involve a denial of due process. P. 325 U. S. 238.

6. The prior decision of this Court in this case, Williams v. North Carolina, 317 U. S. 287, did not foreclose a second trial upon the issue of domicil. P. 325 U. S. 239.

224 N.C. 183, 29 S.E.2d 744, affirmed.

Certiorari, 322 U.S. 725, to review a judgment affirming judgments of conviction of bigamous cohabitation.

Page 325 U. S. 227

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