A court in one state, when asked to give effect to the judgment of a court in another state, may constitutionally inquire into the foreign court's jurisdiction to render that judgment. A judgment is entitled to full faith and credit -- even as to questions of jurisdiction -- when the second court's inquiry discloses that those questions have been fully and fairly litigated and finally decided in the court which rendered the original judgment.
Petitioners filed suit against respondent to quiet title to land on the boundary of Nebraska and Missouri. Petitioners obtained a state court judgment that the land was in Nebraska. Respondent filed a second quiet title suit in Missouri. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit held that the Missouri district court was not required to give full faith and credit to the Nebraska judgment. Petitioners sought certiorari review. The court reversed the judgment of the lower court.
Was the judgment of the Nebraska Supreme Court res judicata as to all issues, including the issue of jurisdiction?
The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari and reversed the judgment because the federal court in Missouri had the power and, upon proper averments, the duty to inquire into the jurisdiction of the Nebraska courts to render the decree quieting title to the land in petitioners. The Court held that when that inquiry disclosed, as it did, that the jurisdictional issues had been fully and fairly litigated by the parties and finally determined in the Nebraska courts, the federal court in Missouri was correct in ruling that further inquiry was precluded.