Cases on Void Judgments

Myrad Properties, Inc. v. Lasalle Bank, N.A. (Tex. 2009)(Green)

(whether a correction deed may convey two properties when an unambiguous deed mistakenly conveyed only one, correction deed found void, court renders judgment and orders rescission of the mistaken deed)MYRAD PROPERTIES, INC. v. LASALLE BANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, AS TRUSTEE FOR THE REGISTERED HOLDERS OF GMAC COMMERCIAL MORTGAGESECURITES, INC., COMMERICIAL MORTGAGE PASS-THROUGH CERTIFICATES, SERIES 1997-C1, ROBIN GREEN, AND MELISSA COBB; from Bell County; 3rd district (03-07-00240-CV, 252 SW3d 605, 03-28-08) The Court reverses the court of appeals' judgment and renders judgment. Justice Green delivered the opinion of the Court.

Dictionary.Law.com: void adj. referring to a statute, contract, ruling or anything which is null and of no effect. A law or judgment found by an appeals court to be unconstitutional is void, a rescinded (mutually cancelled) contract is void, and a marriage which has been annulled by court judgment is void.

Diamond v. Diamond a void divorce

United States v. One Rural Lot NO. 10,356, ETC.

OSHA decision on Adanlock Office Environments, Div. of Superior Jamestown Corp.

Latimer v. Latimer, a void divorce,

Process and Service--acceptance of service--back...

Phyllis C. Hudson v. SC Dept. of Highways - judgment finding a void judgment itself found void - Rule 54(c) does not result in a void judgment unless the judgment by default was different in kind from or exceeded in amount than that prayed for in the demand for judgment.  Case Site

State of Illinois Court Opinion: People of Illinois v. Harvey.

I read section 2-1401, similar to Rule 60 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (Fed. R. Civ. P. 60), as replacing traditional collateral proceedings as the proper vehicle for attacking void judgments. See Malone v. Cosentino, 99 Ill. 2d 29, 33 (1983) (final judgments can only be attacked on direct appeal, or in one of the traditional collateral proceedings now defined by statute). ... In light of these concerns, I believe the better course of action is simply to recognize that a motion for relief from a void judgment may be brought under Code of Civil Procedure Title 2-§ 1401 (see link below). This clarifies the basis of jurisdiction and provides the procedural mechanism for exercising the principle of law with which every member of this court agrees, i.e., that a motion attacking a void judgment may be brought at any time.

Title 2 > Chapter 24 > Subchapter IV > § 1401. Procedure for consideration of alleged violations.

Medina v. American Family Mutual - A judgment against an alleged tortfeasor that is void due to lack of personal service cannot be successfully used to collect under the injured party's underinsured motorist coverage when the insurance company has not otherwise submitted to jurisdiction in the case.

"a void act cannot be ratified." In re Garcia, 105 B.R. 335 (N.D.Ill. 1989).

A party may attack a void judgment at any time in a motion separate and apart from a section 2-1401 petition. R.W. Sawant, 111 Ill. 2d at 310; City of Chicago v. Fair Employment Practices Comm'n, 65 Ill. 2d 108, 112 (1976); Barnard v. Michael, 392 Ill. 130, 135 (1945); see State Bank v. Thill, 113 Ill. 2d 294, 308-09 (1986); Cavanaugh v. Lansing Municipal Airport, 288 Ill. App. 3d 239, 246 (1997); In re Marriage of Parks, 122 Ill. App. 3d 905, 909 (1984); First Federal Savings & Loan Ass'n v. Brown, 74 Ill. App. 3d 901, 905 (1979).

A court may not render a judgment which transcends the limits of its authority, and a judgment is void if it is beyond the powers granted to the court by the law of its organization, even where the court has jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter. Thus, if a court is authorized by statute to entertain jurisdiction in a particular case only, and undertakes to exercise the jurisdiction conferred in a case to which the statute has no application, the judgment rendered is void. The lack of statutory authority to make particular order or a judgment is akin to lack of subject matter jurisdiction and is subject to collateral attack. 46 Am. Jur. 2d, Judgments § 25, pp. 388-89.

A void judgment is to be distinguished from an erroneous one, in that the latter is subject only to direct attack. A void judgment is one which, from its inception, was a complete nullity and without legal effect. Lubben v. Selective Service System, 453 F.2d 645, 649 (1st Cir. 1972)

A judgment rendered by a court without personal jurisdiction over the defendant is void. It is a nullity. [A judgment shown to be void for lack of personal service on the defendant is a nullity.] Sramek v. Sramek, 17 Kan. App. 2d 573, 576-77, 840 P.2d 553 (1992), rev. denied 252 Kan. 1093 (1993).

"Where there are no depositions, admissions, or affidavits the court has no facts to rely on for a summary determination." Trinsey v. Pagliaro, D.C. Pa. 1964, 229 F. Supp. 647.

"A court cannot confer jurisdiction where none existed and cannot make a void proceeding valid. It is clear and well established law that a void order can be challenged in any court", Old Wayne Mut. L. Assoc. v. Mcdonough, 204 U. S. 8, 27 S. Ct. 236 (1907).

"The law is well-settled that a void order or judgment is void even before reversal", Valley v. Northern Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 254 U.S. 348, 41 S. Ct. 116 ( 1920 )

"Courts are constituted by authority and they cannot go beyond that power delegated to them. If they act beyond that authority, and certainly in contravention of it, their judgments and orders are regarded as nullities ; they are not voidable, but simply void, and this even prior to reversal." Williamson v. Berry, 8 How. 945, 540 12 L. Ed. 1170, 1189 ( 1850 ).

"Once jurisdiction is challenged, the court cannot proceed when it clearly appears that the court lacks jurisdiction, the court has no authority to reach merits, but rather should dismiss the action." Melo v. U.S. 505 F 2d 1026

"There is no discretion to ignore lack of jurisdiction." Joyce v. U.S. 474 2D 215.

"The burden shifts to the court to prove jurisdiction." Rosemond v. Lambert, 469 F 2d 416

"Court must prove on the record, all jurisdiction facts related to the jurisdiction asserted." Latana v. Hopper, 102 F. 2d 188; Chicago v. New York 37 F Supp. 150

"Jurisdiction, once challenged, cannot be assumed and must be decided." Also: "The law provides that once State and Federal Jurisdiction has been challenged, it must be proven." Main v. Thiboutot 100 S. Ct. 2502 (1980)

"Jurisdiction can be challenged at any time." Basso v. Utah Power & Light Co. 495 F 2d 906, 910.

"Defense of lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter may be raised at any time, even on appeal." Hill Top Developers v. Holiday Pines Service Corp. 478 So. 2d. 368 (Fla 2nd DCA 1985)

"Court must prove on the record, all jurisdiction facts related to the jurisdiction asserted." Lantana v. Hopper, 102 F. 2d 188; Chicago v. New York, 37 F. Supp. 150.

"Once challenged, jurisdiction cannot be assumed, it must be proved to exist." Stuck v. Medical Examiners 94 Ca 2d 751. 211 P2d 389.

"The law requires proof of jurisdiction to appear on the record of the administrative agency and all administrative proceedings." Hagans v Lavine 415 U. S. 533.

Though not specifically alleged, defendant's challenge to subject matter jurisdiction implicitly raised claim that default judgment against him was void and relief should be granted under Rule 60(b)(4).Honneus v. Donovan, 93 F.R.D. 433, 436-37 (1982), aff'd, 691 F.2d 1 (1st Cir. 1982).

Kocher v. Dow Chem. Co., 132 F.3d 1225, 1230-31 (8th Cir. 1997) (as long as there is an "arguable basis" for subject matter jurisdiction, a judgment is not void).

Lubben v. Selective Service System, 453 F.2d 645, 649 (1st Cir. 1972) ("A void judgment is to be distinguished from an erroneous one, in that the latter is subject only to direct attack. A void judgment is one which, from its inception, was a complete nullity and without legal effect.").

Stoll v. Gottlieb, 305 U.S. 165, 171- 72, 59 S.Ct. 134 (1938) ("Every court in rendering a judgment tacitly, if not expressly, determines its jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter.");

Geico v. Jackson, 1995 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16814, *1 (1995) ("[A] default judgment constitutes an implicit ruling on subject matter jurisdiction and an erroneous determination does not make the judgment void under Rule 60(b)(4)").

"Either a judgment is valid or it is void, and the court must act accordingly once the issue is resolved." In re Marriage of Hampshire, 261 Kan. 854, 862, 934 P.2d 58 (1997).

"A judgment is void if the court acted in a manner inconsistent with due process. A void judgment is a nullity and may be vacated at any time." 261 Kan. at 862.

"A void judgment is one that has been procured by extrinsic or collateral fraud or entered by a court that did not have jurisdiction over the subject matter or the parties." Rook v. Rook, 233 Va. 92, 95, 353 S.E.2d 756, 758 (1987)

A judgment obtained without jurisdiction over the defendant is void. Overby v. Overby , 457 S.W.2d 851 (Tenn. 1970).

A void judgment is one of the grounds for relief under Rule 60, Tenn. R. Civ. Proc. See Rule 60.02(3).

When the law prescribes a place of imprisonment to which a convicted defendant can be sentenced, the court cannot direct a different place of incarceration, and, if it does, the sentence is void and the defendant is entitled to resentencing. State v. Bouck, 2001 ND 153, 633 N.W.2d 163

There is no time limit for attacking a void judgment under N.D.R.Civ.P. 60(b)(iv). Eggl v. Fleetguard, Inc., 1998 ND 166, 583 N.W.2d 812

Habeas corpus is an appropriate remedy to attack a void judgment or sentence. See Ex parte Seidel, 39 S.W.3d 221, 224, 225 at n. 4 (Tex.Crim.App. 2001); Ex parte Beck, 922 S.W.2d 181 (Tex.Crim.App. 1996); Heath v. State, 817 S.W.2d at 336 (Tex.Crim.App. 1991) (opinion on original submission); Ex parte McIver, 586 S.W.2d 851 (Tex.Crim.App. 1979).

A void conviction may be challenged in a post-conviction habeas corpus proceeding. Beck, 922 S.W.2d 181; Heath, 817 S.W.2d at 336; Ex parte McIver, 586 S.W.2d 851; Burns, 441 S.W.2d 532; Jenkins, 433 S.W.2d 701; Higginbotham, 382 S.W.2d 927; Strother, 395 S.W.2d 629; Rawlins, 255 S.W.2d 877.

If such an action by the trial court in Seidel rendered the dismissal void, then an even stronger case can be made that the violation of Article 1.13(c) in the instant case rendered the resulting conviction void. By Article 1.13(c), the Legislature has specifically prohibited a trial court from accepting a defendant's waiver of a jury trial until the court has appointed an attorney to represent him. Here, not only was "[t]he trial judge's action ... not authorized by law ...," Seidel, 39 S.W.2d at 225, the action was specifically prohibited by statute. Requiring an objection at trial in these circumstances would lead to a Catch-22 situation: a defendant must object to not having an attorney appointed to advise him as to waiver of jury trial, without having been advised by an attorney that he was entitled to such representation and advice. Given the absurdity of such a situation, we chose in the past to characterize the resulting conviction as "void" and allow the defendant to raise the issue in a habeas corpus proceeding. Otherwise, defendants, such as appellant, are left without a remedy even though there has been a clear violation of a mandatory statute.

Thus, in a long line of cases, most notably Heath and Seidel, we have held that some defects, even though they are "just" statutory defects, are so egregious that they are cognizable on habeas corpus. See Heath, 817 S.W.2d at 336; Seidel, 39 S.W.3d 221 at 225; Ex parte McIver, 586 S.W.2d 851 (Tex.Crim.App. 1979). In Heath, we characterized these defects as rendering the conviction "void." 817 S.W.2d at 336. However, we could have properly characterized as "fundamental" errors those "unauthorized sentences" and "statutory defects" which render a sentence void. No matter what we choose to call these "errors," the underlying purpose is the same: to balance a convicted person's interest in the vindication of his legal rights and the State's interest in the finality of convictions.

In Texas, a defendant has a statutory right to have counsel appointed before he can waive his right to a jury trial. The Legislature has decided that the right to a jury trial is so important that before a defendant can waive that right, he should have the opportunity to consult with counsel. If a trial court denies a defendant that right by refusing to appoint counsel, equity demands that the balance be struck in favor of the defendant. Therefore, a defendant should be allowed to contest, in a habeas corpus proceeding, a violation of Article 1.13(c).

The court then concluded that, in the case before it, the trial court had jurisdiction of the subject matter because it was a circuit court which has jurisdiction of all felonies and that any objection King had to jurisdiction over his person was waived by his personal appearance. (State v. King, 426 So. 2d 12 (Fla. 1982)

Conviction of a nonexistent crime results in a void judgment not subject to waiver. People v. McCarty 94 Ill. 2d 28, 37 (1983).

A recent discussion of the Rule 60(b)(4) grounds for attack on a void judgment may be found in Fisher v. Amaraneni, 565 So. 2d 84 (Ala. 1990). The judgment was set aside for lack of personal jurisdiction based on improper service by publication. The court defined a judgment as void "only if the court rendering it lacked jurisdiction of the subject matter or of the parties, or if it acted in a manner inconsistent with due process." Id. at 86 (citingWonder v. Southbound Records, Inc., 364 So. 2d 1173 (Ala. 1978)). It should be noted here that a Rule 60(b)(4) motion involves a different standard of review than the other Rule 60(b) subsections since the court held "[w]hen the grant or denial turns on the validity of the judgment, discretion has no place for operation. If the judgment is void it must be set aside ...."Fisher, 565 So. 2d at 87.

"The consequences of an act beyond the court's jurisdiction in the fundamental sense differ from the consequences of an act in excess of jurisdiction. An act beyond a court's jurisdiction in the fundamental sense is void; it may be set aside at any time and no valid rights can accrue thereunder. In contrast, an act in excess of jurisdiction is valid until set aside, and parties may be precluded from setting it aside by such things as waiver, estoppel, or the passage of time." People v. Ruiz (1990) 217 Cal. App. 3d 574, 265 Cal. Rptr. 886

Held: Petitioner was not accorded a fair and impartial trial, to which he was entitled under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; his conviction is void; the judgment denying habeas corpus is vacated; and the case is remanded to the District Court for further proceedings affording the State a reasonable time to retry petitioner. 366 U.S. 717

See American Surety Co. v. Baldwin, 287 U.S. 156, 166-67 (1932) (applying res judicata to action seeking to set aside judgment for lack of jurisdiction);"Browning v. Navarro, 887 F.2d 553, 558-59 (5th Cir. 1989) (res judicata applies to actions to void judgment for fraud).

Although Rule 60(b)(4) is ostensibly subject to the "reasonable" time limit of Rule 60(b), at least one court has held that no time limit applies to a motion under the Rule 60(b)(4) because a void judgment can never acquire validity through laches. See Crosby v. Bradstreet Co., 312 F.2d 483 (2nd Cir.) cert. denied, 373 U.S. 911, 83 S.Ct. 1300, 10 L.Ed.2d 412 (1963) where the court vacated a judgment as void 30 years after entry. See also Marquette Corp. v. Priester, 234 F.Supp. 799 (E.D.S.C.1964) where the court expressly held that clause Rule 60(b)(4) carries no real time limit.

In a long and venerable line of cases, the Supreme Court has held that, without proper jurisdiction, a court cannot proceed at all, but can only note the jurisdictional defect and dismiss the suit. See, e.g., Capron v. Van Noorden, 2 Cranch 126; Arizonans for Official English v. Arizona, 520 U.S. 43. Bell v. Hood, supra; National Railroad Passenger Corp. v. National Assn. of Railroad Passengers, 414 U.S. 453, 465, n. 13; Norton v. Mathews, 427 U.S. 524, 531; Secretary of Navy v. Avrech, 418 U.S. 676 , 678 (per curiam); United States v. Augenblick, 393 U.S. 348 ; Philbrook v. Glodgett, 421 U.S. 707, 721; and Chandler v. Judicial Council of Tenth Circuit, 398 U.S. 74, 86—88, distinguished. For a court to pronounce upon a law’s meaning or constitutionality when it has no jurisdiction to do so is, by very definition, an ultra vires act. Pp. 8—17.

Recent Decisions

…And there is no indication in the statute that! such relief cannot be granted because the judgment also involve a judicial error which may have caused the surprise.

In the instant case did not the court have statutory jurisdiction over its judgment although it may have committed a judicial error in its rendition? That is dependent upon whether or not a judgment given in excess of a stipu­lation, and when the party interested is not present, is one taken against him through his “mistake, inadvertence, surprise or inexcusable neglect" Under a statute precisely like our own in the Oregon court held, that, "a judgment rendered against a party contrary to an understanding or argument with his ad­versary is taken against him by 'surprise' within the meaning of this section" (Durham v. Commercial Nat, Bank (1904) 45 Ore, 385, 387, 77 Pac, 902; Bellinger and Cotton Comp.. Stats., § 103 (Ore,).) A Kentucky case reached the same result. (Sebree v. Sebree (1907) 30 Ky Law Rep. 709, 9 S. W. 282.) On the other hand, the court in the case under consideration arrived at a contrary result. However, the cases cited in support of this decision, with one exception, do not come within the statutory jurisdiction conferred by the code, because the applications for relief had not been made within six, months after judgment, The only exception was in a case where the facts precluded any possibility of surprise, as all parties were present when the order in question, granting relief in excess of a stipulation, was rendered. (Dyerville Mfg. Co. v, Helles (1894) 102 Cal. 615, 36 Pac 928; Egan v. Egan (1891) 90 Cal 15, 27 Pac, 22; the exception is Mann v. Mann (1907) 6 Cal. App, 610, 92 Pac. 740.) In all the other cases the court had to rely upon its general jurisdiction over judgments, but has already shown, it has no authority to correct judicial errors therein, and as the error in these cases came within that category the court naturally could give the applicant no relief, There­fore, if the appellate court was basing its negative answer, to the question above propounded, upon these cases it would seem that its conclusion was unjustifiable.

The question then may be asked, what difference does it make whether this relief be granted or not; the party has his remedy by motion for a new trial or an appeal, If the judgment were vacated, in all probability, another trial would be necessary to get a proper judgment. But suppose a mistake like this, in the judgment, is not discovered until after sixty days from the entry thereof. The time for moving for a new trial, or appealing would have expired. Then the only remedy would be under section 473 of the Code of Civil Procedure, as there the injured party is given six months in which to ask for relief. So, although the practical result of this case, at first glance may not seem to be harsh, still there are situations where this decision would deprive a litigant of a right to which, apparently, he is entitled, and which other jurisdictions would give him.

Pleading: Motion to Vacate Judgment by default: Mistake by Attorney — "The policy of the law is it have every litigated cause tried on its merits". Barri v. Rigero (1914) 168 Cal, 736, 740, 145 Pac. 95. An indi­cation of how far the courts are willing to go in order to bring a case to trial before them on its merits is given by the decision of Toon v, Pickwick Stages (April 7, 1924) 43 Cal. App. Dec 808 Pac. 628, reversing an order deny...

egregious, adjective: Conspicuously and outrageously bad or reprehensible.

cog·ni·za·ble Knowable or perceivable. Law. Able to be tried before a particular court.

 

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