Barney v. Baltimore City (1867)

Barney v. Baltimore City (1867) 73 U.S. 280, was a bill for partition, it appeared that some of the defendants were citizens of the District of Columbia and some of them citizens of Maryland, and, in dismissing the case for want of jurisdiction. It was held that part owners or tenants in common in real estate, of which partition is asked in equity, have an interest in the subject-matter of the suit, and in the relief sought, so intimately connected with that of their cotenants, that if these cannot be subjected to the jurisdiction of the court, the bill will be dismissed. In that case, a bill in equity for the partition of real estate and for an account of rents and profits, in the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Maryland, by a citizen of Delaware, owning a share in the estate, against citizens of Maryland, owning other shares therein, and to whom the owners of the remaining shares, being citizens of the District of Columbia, and not of any State, and therefore not authorized to sue in the Circuit Court of the United States, had conveyed their shares without consideration, under an agreement to reconvey upon request, and for the sole purpose of giving jurisdiction to the federal courts, was dismissed, because the grantors were necessary parties to the suit, and because their conveyance, not transferring their real interests to the other parties, was a fraud upon the court. Mr. Justice Miller, in delivering the opinion, went on to say: "There is another class of persons whose relations to the suit are such that if their interest and their absence are formally brought to the attention of the court, it will require them to be made parties, if within its jurisdiction, before deciding the case. But if this cannot be done, it will proceed to administer such relief as may be in its power between the parties before it. And there is a third class whose interests in the subject-matter of the suit and in the relief sought are so bound up with that of the other parties that their legal presence as parties to the proceeding is an absolute necessity, without which the court cannot proceed. In such cases the courtrefuses to entertain the suit when these parties cannot be subjected to its jurisdiction." "In the case of Hepburn v. Ellzey, it was decided by this court, speaking through Marshall, C.J., that a citizen of the District of Columbia was not a citizen of a State within the meaning of the Judiciary Act, and could not sue in a Federal court. The same principle was asserted in reference to a citizen of a Territory, in the case of New Orleans v. Winter, and it was there held to defeat the jurisdiction, although the citizen of the Territory of Mississippi was joined with a person who, in suing alone, could have maintained the suit. These rulings have never been disturbed, but the principle asserted has been acted upon ever since by the courts when the point has arisen."