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160 U.S. 643
January 27, 1896
[160 U.S. 643, 645] F. A. Brooks and E. J. Phelps, for appellant.
Russell Gray, for appellee.
Mr. Chief Justice FULLER, after stating the facts in the foregoing language, delivered the opinion of the court.
The jurisdiction of the circuit court in the suit of Gregory against Pike and Swift rested on the fact that the controversy therein was between citizens of different states, and this was the sole ground on which Gregory removed the cause from the state court to the circuit court. The fund was in the circuit court because realized out of and substituted for the subject of contention in that suit, and Van Ee recovered on his intervening petition what he claimed to be his share of that fund.
In Rouse v. Letcher, 156 U.S. 47 , 15 Sup. Ct. 266, we held that if the decree of a circuit court of appeals is final, under the sixth section of the judiciary act of March 3, 1891, a decree upon an intervention in the same suit must be regarded as equally so, because the intervention is entertained in virtue of jurisdiction in the circuit court already subsisting. It was pointed out that, where property is in the actual possession of the circuit court, this draws to it the right to decide upon conflicting claims for its ultimate possession and control, and that where assets are in the course of administration all persons entitled to participate may come in, under the jurisdiction acquired between the original parties, by ancillary or supplemental proceedings, even though jurisdiction in the circuit court would be lacking if such proceedings had been independently prosecuted; that the exercise of the power of disposition by a circuit court of the United States over such an intervention is the exercise of power invoked at the institution of the main suit; and that it is to that point of time that the inquiry as to the jurisdiction of the circuit court must necessarily be referred. Therefore, that, if the decree in the main suit were final, decrees in accessory and subordinate proceedings would be also final, and appeals therefrom could not be sustained. [160 U.S. 643, 646] The circuit court of the United States have cognizance of suits as provided by the acts of congress, and, when their jurisdiction as federal courts has attached, they possess and exercise all the powers of courts of superior general jurisdiction. Accordingly, they entertain and dispose of interventions and the like on familiar and recognized principles of general law and practice, but the ground on which their jurisdiction as courts of the United States rests is to be found in the statutes, and to that source must always be attributed.
Manifestly, the decree in the main suit cannot be revised through an appeal from a decree on ancillary or supplemental proceedings, thus accomplishing indirectly what could not be done directly. And even if the decree on such proceedings may be in itself independent of the controversy between the original parties, yet, if the proceedings are entertained in the circuit court, because of its possession of the subject of the ancillary or supplemental application, the disposition of the latter must partake of the finality of the main decree, and cannot be brought here on the theory that the circuit court exercised jurisdiction independently of the ground of jurisdiction which was originally invoked as giving cognizance to that court as a court of the United States.