265 N.Y.S. 1, where the judgment was affirmed with slight modifications on July 18, 1933.
On May 19, 1935 M. Burton Deady married Clara Belle Deady.
Our problem, precisely, is to determine whether this court must follow the New Jersey or New York decree in order that we may ascertain M. Burton Deady's marital status.
It is contended on behalf of Clara Belle Deady that the final decree of divorce in the New Jersey Court of Chancery must be given full force and effect by this court, because New Jersey is presumed to have had jurisdiction of the parties.
The cases of Haddock v. Haddock, 201 U.S. 562, 26 S. Ct. 525, 50 L. Ed. 867, 5 Ann.Cas. 1, Atherton v. Atherton, 181 U.S. 155, 21 S. Ct. 544, 45 L. Ed. 794, and Maynard v. Hill, 125 U.S. 190, 8 S. Ct. 723, 31 L. Ed. 654, are relied upon in support of the contention that this court must follow the New Jersey decree. But none of these cases enlighten this court with regard to which of two conflicting court decisions we should follow, this being a collateral proceeding to both of the state actions. They simply do not touch upon that problem.
In addition, the cases of Erie R.R. Co. v. Tompkins, 304 U.S. 64, 58 S. Ct. 817, 82 L. Ed. 1188, 114 A.L.R. 1487, and Faris v. Hope, 8 Cir., 298 F. 727, are cited for the proposition that it is our duty to follow the law of New Jersey. The court made the following statement in the case of Faris v. Hope: "It was the duty of the trial court and is the duty of this court to give to the divorce decree the same effect that it had and has in the jurisdiction where it was rendered." 298 F. 727, 729.
The general rule expressed in Faris v. Hope has no application to a case where it appears that the decree is entitled to no weight in the state of its rendition. Erie R.R. Co. v. Tompkins is likewise distinguishable in that it does not bind us to follow invalid decrees of a state court. Indeed, that case had nothing to do with court decrees.
Bessie A. Deady argues that this court should give full force to the decree of New York, citing Yarborough v. Yarborough, 290 U.S. 202, 54 S. Ct. 181, 78 L. Ed. 269, 90 A.L.R. 924. That case only held that one state should give full faith and credit to the valid decrees of another state. As in the cases cited by Clara Belle Deady, it does not enlighten us as to which of two conflicting court decisions we should follow. It is also contended that this court is not bound by the New Jersey decree. Cases in which the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia refused to be bound by decrees of divorce obtained in other states are cited in support thereof. Diggs v. Diggs, 53 App.D.C. 56, 288 F. 262; Benson v. Benson, 59 App.D.C. 271, 40 F.2d 159 and Friedenwald v. Friedenwald, 57 App.D.C. 13, 16 F.2d 509. This, however, is elementary law. No court will follow the fraudulent and illegal decrees of another court.
Our problem herein is complicated by the fact that we cannot ascertain that the New Jersey decree was fraudulent, except from the decree of New York. As indicated heretofore only the New Jersey decree of divorce was exhibited herein. The record supporting that decree was not offered. Hence, our only source of information affecting the validity of that decree is the complete record of the New York separation proceeding. Therein, it appears that both spouses were personally before the court, and, indeed, the husband, M. Burton Deady, unsuccessfully prosecuted an appeal from the decision rendered against him.
It is not contended herein that the New York court was without jurisdiction of the parties before it. It is only argued that the New York decree, though effective in New York, is ineffective in New Jersey. But the decree of New York was predicated upon a fraud consummated in New Jersey. M. Burton Deady was thereupon bound to exhaust his remedies in New York in an effort to purge the shadow cast upon his New Jersey decree. His failure so to do is res adjudicata. Mitchell v. First Nat. Bank of Chicago, 180 U.S. 471, 21 S. Ct. 418, 45 L. Ed. 627; Live Stock Nat. Bank of Chicago v. United States, 7 Cir., 106 F.2d 240; Mars v. McDougal, 10 Cir., 40 F.2d 247, and Brictson Mfg. Co. v. Close, 8 Cir., 25 F.2d 794. In the case of Brictson Mfg. Co. v. Close the court stated: "A judgment rendered by a state court of competent jurisdiction is binding and conclusive upon the parties when made the basis of a claim or defense in any court of the United States, and cannot be reviewed or re-examined as to the merits of the original controversy. It will be conclusive as to all points and questions actually put in issue and decided in the action in the state court, whether federal, general, or local." 25 F.2d 794, 800.
Since M. Burton Deady chose to abide by the New York decree, and pay alimony thereunder, he is bound thereby, and Clara Belle Deady stands in no better position. We conclude that Bessie A. Deady was the lawful surviving wife of the insured and that the money paid into court should be distributed to her and her children pursuant to the terms of the insurance policy providing for distribution in the event of disqualification of beneficiary.
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