Pennoyer v. Neff

95 U.S. 714 (1877)

 

RULE:

Since the adoption of U.S. Const. amend. XIV, the validity of judgments against persons who have not been personally summoned or had notice of the proceeding may be directly questioned, and their enforcement in the State resisted, on the ground that proceedings in a court of justice to determine the personal rights and obligations of parties over whom that court has no jurisdiction do not constitute due process of law.

 

FACTS:

This was an action to recover possession of a tract of land to which both parties asserted title. Pennoyer claimed to have acquired the premises under a sheriff's deed made upon a sale of the property resulting from a judgment recovered against Neff by a certain J. H. Mitchell in one of the circuit courts of the state of Oregon. At the time, Neff was not a resident of Oregon and a default judgment was obtained by Mitchell after Neff failed to come to court despite service of the process by publication. The case turned upon the validity of that judgment.

ISSUE:

Can a state court exercise personal jurisdiction against a non-resident who was not personally served with process within the state but by publication in a newspaper?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

The judgment from the underlying action was invalid since the plaintiff was a non-resident of the state in which the action was brought and was not personally served. The validity of judgments against persons who have not been personally summoned or had notice of the proceeding may be directly questioned, and their enforcement in the State resisted, on the ground that proceedings in a court of justice to determine the personal rights and obligations of parties over whom that court has no jurisdiction do not constitute due process of law.

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