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U.S. Supreme Court

Heirs of De Armas v. United States, 47 U.S. 6 How. 103 103 (1848)

Heirs of De Armas v. United States

47 U.S. (6 How.) 103




An order of the district court sustaining a demurrer to a petition because it was multifarious and because the names of the persons claiming or in possession of the land which the petitioners alleged to belong to them were not set forth was not a final judgment or decree from which an appeal lies to this Court.

This was a petition in the district court relating to land, the circumstances of which it is unnecessary to state any further than they are referred to in the opinion of the Court, as the case went off upon a point of jurisdiction.

Page 47 U. S. 104

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE TANEY delivered the opinion of the Court.

It appears that a petition was filed by the appellants claiming an inchoate title to certain lands under Spanish grants which they alleged the United States were bound to perfect, but that these lands had been sold by the United States to divers persons unknown to the petitioners. They therefore prayed that the validity of their claim might be inquired into and that they be allowed to locate the same number of arpents upon the public domain, according to the provisions of the Act of Congress of May 26, 1824, § 11, which was extended to Louisiana by the Act of June 17, 1844.

The proceedings upon this petition, as stated in the record, appear to have been irregular and confused, and it is unnecessary to state them at large. It is sufficient to say that the district attorney demurred to the petition, setting forth various causes of demurrer, that the petitioners afterwards amended their petition, and that the district attorney again demurred,

Page 47 U. S. 105

and after various other proceedings, the record states that

"The following judgment was entered on the minutes:"

"The demurrers to the original and to the amended petition of petitioners, submitted to the court yesterday, having been considered by the court, it is now ordered, adjudged, and decreed that the 4th ground of demurrer set forth in the demurrer to the original petition be sustained, and that the 1st, 2d, 3d, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grounds set forth in said demurrer be overruled, it appearing that said last-mentioned grounds of demurrer have been removed by petitioners' amended petition."

"It is further ordered that the 1st and 2d grounds of demurrer, set forth in the demurrer of respondents to the amended petition of petitioners, be sustained, and that the 3d ground of demurrer, set forth in said demurrer to said amended petition, be overruled."

The grounds of demurrer sustained by the district court were that the petition was multifarious and that the names of the persons claiming or in possession of the land which the petitioners alleged belonged to them were not set forth.

The appeal was taken from the judgment above recited. But evidently that judgment is not a final judgment or decree. For the petition is not dismissed, nor is the title of the petitioners to the land claimed by them finally adjudicated, nor their right to locate the same number of arpens upon the public domain. Nothing is decided but a question of pleading and a question as to proper parties. The petition appears to be still pending in the district court, and the objections upon which the court decided against the petitioners might be removed, if the appellants desired it, by an application to the court for leave to amend. But if the petitioners did not move for leave to amend, and preferred taking the opinion of this Court upon the questions decided against them in the district court, then, under the opinion given by that court upon the demurrer, it should have proceeded to pass a final decree dismissing the bill. An appeal from that decree would have brought the case legally before this Court, and authorized it to examine the grounds upon which the decree had been made.

But as there is no final judgment or decree, we have no jurisdiction, and consequently the appeal must be



This cause came on to be heard on the transcript of the record from the District Court of the United States for the District of Louisiana and was argued by counsel, and it appearing to the Court here that there has been no final judgment or decree

Page 47 U. S. 106

of the said district court in this cause, it is thereupon now here ordered and decreed by this Court that this appeal be and the same is hereby dismissed for the want of jurisdiction.

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