The Law School Authority

Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee Case Brief

Summary of Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee
U.S.  S. Ct.1816

Relevant Facts:  Lord Fairfax died in 1781 and left his property to Thomas Martin.  Virginia claimed that the property was theirs in 1777 and conveyed it to David Hunter in 1789.  The District Ct granted judgment in favor of Martin.  Virginia Court of Appeals reversed in favor of Hunter, the S. Ct. using the Treaties of 1781 and 1794 reversed and remanded in favor of Martin.

Legal Issue:  Whether the U.S. Supreme Ct. has absolute appellate power under the Constitution over the individual state’s tribunals?

Holding:  The U.S. S. Ct. has absolute appellate power under the Constitution.

Law or Rule(s):  Article III U.S. Constitution, Judiciary Act of 1789.

Procedure:  Virginia Court of Appeals refused to comply with S. Ct. decision of 1813, issuing a writ of error before the S. Ct. again.

Court Rationale:  The U.S. Constitution expressly confers supreme judicial power upon the S. Ct.  In all cases and controversy involving issues under the U.S. Constitution’s judicial limitations/powers, the state courts are subservient to that end.

Plaintiff’s Argument:  Article III confers appellate power upon the S. Ct. in order to maintain uniformity of judgments throughout the country.

Defendant’s Argument:  The S. Ct. does not have absolute appellate jurisdiction, over State Courts, specifically delegated by the Constitution.

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