No. 16.

155 U.S. 102 (1894)


Supreme Court of United States.

Decided November 5, 1894.

Attorney(s) appearing for the Case

Mr. W. Cabell Bruce and Mr. Thomas C. Chappell for plaintiff in error.

Mr. Solicitor General, for defendants in error said, upon the question of jurisdiction:

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

The question presented by the pleadings, considered in the opinion below, and argued at the bar, cannot be decided upon this record, because the case was removed into the Circuit Court of the United States without authority of law. The question of removal is governed by the decision of this court at the last term in Tennessee v. Bank of Commerce, 152 U.S. 454, by which, upon full consideration, it was adjudged that under the acts of March 3, 1887, c. 373, (24 Stat. 552,) and August 13, 1888, c. 866, (25 Stat. 433,) a case (not depending on the citizenship of the parties, nor otherwise specially provided for,) cannot be removed from a state court into the Circuit Court of the United States, as one arising under the Constitution, laws or treaties of the United States, unless that appears by the plaintiff's statement of his own claim; and that, if it does not so appear, the want cannot be supplied by any statement in the petition for removal or in the subsequent pleadings.

In the present case, the declaration is in the ordinary form of an action of ejectment between individuals, merely describing the land and alleging the ouster of the plaintiff by the defendant. It does not show that either party claims any right under the Constitution or laws of the United States, or that the government of the United States or any third party claims or asserts any title or right to the land in controversy. So far as the declaration shows, the only question in the case might be merely whether the plaintiff has any title, or whether the defendant has taken possession. There was therefore no ground for ousting the jurisdiction of the courts of the State, and removing the case into the courts of the United States for trial.

The case must be remanded to the court in which it was originally brought. If such a defence as was set up in the Circuit Court of the United States should be hereafter set up in the courts of the State, and overruled by the highest court of the State to which the case can be taken, the judgment of that court may be reviewed by this court on writ of error.

Judgment reversed, with costs, and case remanded to the Circuit Court of the United States with directions to remand it to the Circuit Court of the fifth judicial circuit of the State of Maryland.


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