MR. JUSTICE CLARK delivered the opinion of the Court.
The question here is whether mandamus is an appropriate remedy to vacate a severance and transfer order entered by a district judge on the ground of improper venue, under 28 U. S. C. § 1406 (a).
The applicable venue statute for private treble damage actions brought under the antitrust laws, 15 U. S. C. § 15, allows suit "in any district court of the United States in the district in which the defendant resides or is found or has an agent . . . ." It is admitted that Commissioner Cravey was not a resident of the Southern District of Florida, but petitioner contends that the Commissioner "was a member of a conspiracy whose other members were residing and carrying on the illegal business of the conspiracy in the Southern District of Florida, . . . that a conspiracy is a partnership and that co-conspirators are each other's agents . . ." and that the Commissioner therefore was "found" and had "agents" in the district, within the meaning of the statute. In furtherance of its theory that the Commissioner was "found" in the district, petitioner alleged overt acts committed by the Commissioner, as well as his codefendants, in the district where the suit was filed. The respondent judge held that the court had jurisdiction of the action and of the Commissioner, under Rule 4 (f) of the Rules of Civil Procedure, service of process having been had on him in the Northern District of Florida. The judge held, however, that venue was
At the outset it appears to be agreed that the District Court had jurisdiction over Commissioner Cravey under the process served on him in the Northern District of Florida.
We are of the opinion that in the circumstances of this case the writ was inappropriate.
The All Writs Act grants to the federal courts the power to issue "all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law." 28 U. S. C. § 1651 (a). As was pointed out in Roche v. Evaporated Milk Assn., 319 U.S. 21, 26 (1943), the "traditional use of the writ in aid of appellate jurisdiction both at common law and in the federal courts has been to confine an inferior court to a lawful exercise of its prescribed jurisdiction or to compel it to exercise its authority when it is its duty to do so." Here, however, petitioner admits that the court had jurisdiction both of the subject matter of the suit and of the person of Commissioner Cravey and that it was necessary in the due course of the litigation for the respondent judge to rule on the motion. The contention is that in acting on the motion and ordering transfer he exceeded his legal powers and this error ousted him of jurisdiction. But jurisdiction need not run the gauntlet of reversible errors. The ruling on a question of law decisive of the issue presented by Cravey's motion and the replication of the petitioner was made in the course of the exercise of the court's jurisdiction to decide issues properly brought before it. Ex parte American Steel Barrel Co., 230 U.S. 35, 45-46 (1913); Ex parte Roe, 234 U.S. 70, 73 (1914). Its decision against petitioner, even if erroneous—which we do not pass upon—involved no abuse of judicial power, Roche v. Evaporated Milk Assn., supra, and is reviewable upon appeal after final judgment.
It is urged, however, that the use of the writ of mandamus is appropriate here to prevent "judicial inconvenience and hardship" occasioned by appeal being delayed until after final judgment. But it is established that the extraordinary writs cannot be used as substitutes for appeals, Ex parte Fahey, 332 U.S. 258, 259-260 (1947), even though hardship may result from delay and perhaps unnecessary trial, United States Alkali Export Assn. v. United States, 325 U.S. 196, 202-203 (1945); Roche v. Evaporated Milk Assn., supra, at 31; and whatever may be done without the writ may not be done with it. Ex parte Rowland, 104 U.S. 604, 617 (1882). We may assume that, as petitioner contends, the order of transfer defeats the objective of trying related issues in a single action and will give rise to a myriad of legal and practical problems as well as inconvenience to both courts; but Congress must have contemplated those conditions in providing that only final judgments are reviewable. Petitioner has alleged no special circumstances such as were
We note additionally that the petitioner has not met the burden of showing that its right to issuance of the writ is "clear and indisputable." United States v. Duell, 172 U.S. 576, 582 (1899). While a criminal action under the antitrust laws lies in any district where the conspiracy was formed or in part carried on or where an overt act was committed in furtherance thereof,
We adhere to the language of this Court in Ex parte Fahey, supra, at 259-260:
MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS concurs in the result.
MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER, whom MR. JUSTICE JACKSON and MR. JUSTICE MINTON join, dissenting.
This case presents one of those clear situations where due regard for the canons governing the exercise of the Court's certiorari jurisdiction calls for dismissal of the writ as improvidently granted.
1. Whatever view one may take of the scope of the venue requirement of § 4 of the Clayton Act, 15 U. S. C. § 15, it cannot be doubted that that section precludes the Georgia Commissioner of Insurance from being made a defendant in this suit unless he "resides or is found or has an agent" in the Southern District of Florida, or has consented, by formal appearance or by some other form of waiver, to be sued there.
He has neither consented nor made such a waiver. On the contrary, he has stood on the right Congress gave him and has resisted his amenability to suit in the Southern District of Florida.
2. The only basis, on the record before us, for the claim that § 4 subjected the Georgia Commissioner to suit is the suggestion that since the complaint charges a conspiracy between him and co-conspirators who reside in the Southern District of Florida, the latter thereby became his "agents" within the meaning of § 4 of the Clayton Act. The Court now characterizes this contention as "frivolous." Presumably that is why this issue was
3. If we now had to decide whether a co-conspirator as such is an "agent" for purposes of venue under 15 U. S. C. § 15, it cannot be doubted that we would have to conclude that the district judge was right in finding that the Georgia Commissioner could not be kept in the suit. Once it is clear that the Georgia defendant has the right to be let out, all discussion of the limits of mandamus becomes irrelevant and gratuitous. Obviously a judge cannot be mandamused to put a proposed defendant into a litigation when as a matter of unquestioned law he should be let out.
5. It is a too easy view that now that the case is here we might as well dispose of it on the assumption on which it was brought here. The short but important answer is that which was made by Mr. Chief Justice Taft on behalf of the whole Court in Layne & Bowler Corp. v. Western Well Works, Inc., 261 U.S. 387, 393.
The case before us is more compelling for dismissal, since the question on which we granted certiorari does not here arise.
6. Discussion of mandamus in this case is not even useful as dicta for future guidance on an important issue.
"TERRITORIAL LIMITS OF EFFECTIVE SERVICE. All process other than a subpoena may be served anywhere within the territorial limits of the state in which the district court is held and, when a statute of the United States so provides, beyond the territorial limits of that state. A subpoena may be served within the territorial limits provided in Rule 45."
"1. Is mandamus an appropriate remedy to vacate the order of severance and transfer as an unwarranted renunciation of jurisdiction which would compel needless duplicity of trials and appeals to enforce the right to a single trial against all defendants in a proper forum?
"2. Where venue is properly laid in a district in which a non-resident conspirator is `found' and has agents within the meaning of 15 U. S. C. § 15, is mandamus appropriate to vacate the order of severance and transfer as being in excess of the power of transfer conferred by 28 U. S. C. § 1406 (a)?
"3. Is a non-resident conspirator `found' for venue purposes within the meaning of 15 U. S. C. § 15 when, although served with process in another district in the same state, venue is laid in a district where he has, in person when physically present and at other times through the agency of his resident co-conspirators, engaged in the business of the conspiracy in violation of the antitrust laws to the substantial injury of plaintiff's business?
"4. Are the resident co-conspirators of a non-resident conspirator his agents for venue purposes within the meaning of 15 U. S. C. § 15 when venue is laid in a district where he has, through the agency of his resident co-conspirators, engaged in the business of the conspiracy in violation of the antitrust laws to the substantial injury of plaintiff's business?"