What is JUDGMENT IN REM?

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A judgment in rem is an adjudication, pronounced upon the status of some particular subject-matter, by a tribunal having competent authority for that purpose. It differs from a judgment in personam, in this: that the latter judgment is in form, as well as substance, between the parties claiming the right; and that it is so inter partes appears by the record itself. It is binding only upon the parties appearing to be such by the record, aud those claiming by them. A judgment in rem is founded on a proceeding instituted, not against the person, as such, but against or upon the thing or subject-matter itself, whose state or condition is to be determined. It is a proceeding to determine the state or condition of the thing itself; and the judgment is a solemn declaration upon the status of the thing, and it ipso facto renders it what it declares it to be. Woodruff v. Taylor, 20 Vt. 73. And see Martin v. King, 72 Ala. 360: Lord v. Cliadbourne, 42 Me. 429. 66 Am. Dec. 290; Hine v. IIus- sey, 45 Ala. 496; Cross v. Armstrong, 44 Ohio St. 613. 10 N. E. 100. Various definitions have been given of a judgment in rem, but all are criticised as either incomplete or comprehending too much. It is generally said to be a judgment declaratory of the status of some subject-matter, whether this be a person or a thing. Thus, the probate of a will fixes the status of the document as a will. The personal rights and interests which follow are mere incidental results of the status or character of the paper, and do not appear on the face of the judgment So, a decree establishing or dissolving a marriage is a judgment in rem, because it fixes the status of the person. A judgment of forfeiture, by the proper tribunal, against specific articles or goods, for a violation of the revenue laws, is a judgment in rem. But it is objected that the customary definition does not fit such a case, because there is no fixing of the status of anything, the whole effect being a seizure, whatever the thing may be. In the foregoing instances, and many others, the judgment is conclusive against all the world, without reference to actual presence or participation in the proceedings. If the expression “strictly in rem” may be applied to any class of cases, it should be confined to such as these. “A very able writer says: ‘The distin. guishing characteristic of judgments in rem is that, wherever their obligation is recognized and enforced as against any person, it is equally recognized and enforced as against alt persons.’ It seems to us that the true definition of a ‘judgment in rem’ is ‘an adjudication’ against some person or thing, or upon the status of some subject-matter; which, wherever and whenever binding upon any person, is equally binding upon all persons.” Bartero v. Real Estate Savings Bank, 10 Mo. App. 78. Judicandum est legibus, non exempli*. Judgment is to be given according to the laws, not according to examples or precedents. 4 Coke, 336; 4 IU. Comm. 40.”..

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