Case Law on VOID Judgments
Void judgments are those rendered by a court which lacked jurisdiction, either of the subject matter or the parties.
Wahl v. Round Valley Bank, 38 Ariz. 411, 300 P.955 (1931)Tube City Mining & Milling Co. v. Otterson, 16 Ariz. 305, 146 P. 203 (1914)Milliken v. Meyer, 311 U.S. 457, 61 S.Ct. 339, 85 L.Ed. 2d 278 (1940)
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.
A void judgment which includes judgment entered by a court which lacks jurisdiction over the parties or the subject matter, or lacks inherent power to enter the particular judgment, or an order procured by fraud, can be attacked at any time, in any court, either directly or collaterally, provided that the party is properly before the court. See Long v. Shorebank Development Corp., 182 F.3d 548 (C.A. 7 Ill. 1999).
Judgment is a void judgment if court that rendered judgment lacked jurisdiction of the subject matter, or of the parties, or acted in a manner inconsistent with due process, Fed Rules Civ. Proc., Rule 60(b)(4), 28 U.S.C.A.; U.S.C.A. Const Amend. 5. Klugh v. U.S., 620 F.Supp. 892 (D.S.C. 1985).
A void judgment is one which has a mere semblance, but is lacking in some of the essential elements which would authorize the court to proceed to judgment, Henderson v. Henderson, 59 S.E.2d 227, (N.C. 1950).
Void judgment is one which has no legal force or effect whatever, it is an absolute nullity, its invalidity may be asserted by any person whose rights are affected at any time and at any place and it need not be attacked directly but may be attacked collaterally whenever and wherever it is interposed, City of Lufkin v. McVicker, 510 S.X.2d 141 (Twx.Civ.App.-Beaumone 1973).
When rule providing for relief from void judgments is applicable, relief is not discretionary matter, but is mandatory, Orner. V. Shalala, 30 F.3d 1307 (Colo. 1994).
Judgments entered where court lacked either subject matter or personal jurisdiction, or that were otherwise entered in violation of due process of law, must be set aside, Jaffe and Asher v. Van Brunt, S.D.N.Y.1994, 158 F.R.D. 278.
A “void” judgment, as we all know, grounds no rights, forms no defense to actions taken thereunder, and is vulnerable to any manner of collateral attack (thus here, by). No statute of limitations or repose runs on its holdings, the matters thought to be settled thereby are not res judicata, and years later, when the memories may have grown dim and rights long been regarded as vested, any disgruntled litigant may reopen old wound and once more probe its depths. And it is then as though trial and adjudication had never been. Fritts v. Krugh, Supreme Court of Michigan, 92 N.W.2d 604, 354 Mich. 97 (10/13/58).
No Petition in the record of the case, Brown v. VanKeuren, 340 Ill. 118, 122 (1930).
Defective Petition filed, Brown v. VanKeuren, 340 Ill. 118, 122 (1930).
Fraud committed in the procurement of jurisdiction, Fredman Brothers Furniture v. Dept. of Revenue, 109 Ill.2d 202, 486 N.E.2d 893 (1985).
Fraud upon the court, In re Village of Willowbrook, 37 Ill. App.3d 393 (1962).
A judge does not follow statutory procedure, Armstrong v. Obucino, 300 Ill. 140, 143 (1921).
Unlawful activity of a judge, Code of Judicial Conduct.
Violation of due process, Johnson v. Zerbst, 304 U.S. 458, 58 S.Ct. 1019 (1938); Pure Oil Co. v. City of Northlake, 10 Ill.2d 241, 245, 140 N.E.2d 289 (1956); Hallberg v. Goldblatt Bros., 363 Ill.25 (1936).
If the court exceeded its statutory authority, Rosenstiel v. Rosenstiel, 278 F.Supp. 794 (S.D.N.Y. 1967).
Any acts in violation of 11 U.S.C. §362(a), In re Garcia, 109 B.R. 335 (N.D. Illinois, 1989).
Where no justiciable issue is presented to the court through proper pleadings, Ligon v. Williams, 264 Ill. App.3d 701, 637 N.E.2d 633 (1st Dist. 1994).
Where a complaint states no cognizable cause of action against that party, Charles v. Gore, 248 Ill.App.3d 441, 618 N.E.2d 554 (1st Dist. 1993).
Where any litigant was represented before a court by a person/law firm that is prohibited by law to practice in that jurisdiction.
When the judge is involved in a scheme of bribery (the Alemann cases, Bracey v. Warden, U.S. Supreme Court No. 96-6133; June 9, 1997).
Where a summons was not properly issued.
Where service of process was not made pursuant to statute and Supreme Court Rules, Janove v. Bacon, 6 Ill. 2d 245, 249, 218 N.E.2d 706, 708 (1955).
When the Rules of Circuit Court are not complied with.
Under Federal law which is applicable to all states, the U.S. Supreme Court stated that if a court is
“without authority, its judgments and orders are regarded as nullities. They are not voidable, but simply void; and form no bar to a recovery sought, even prior to a reversal in opposition to them. They constitute no justification; and all persons concerned in executing such judgments or sentences, are considered, in law, as trespassers.”
[Elliot v. Piersol, 1 Pet. 328, 340, 26 U.S. 328, 340 (1828)].
“A judgment rendered in violation of due process is void in the rendering State and is not entitled to full faith and credit elsewhere. Pennoyer v. Neff, 95 U.S. 714, 732-733 (1878).”
[World-Wide Volkwagen Corp. v. Woodson, 444 U.S. 286 (1980)].
Additional Void Court Cases
Gentry v. Gentry, 924 SW 2d 678 – Tenn: Supreme Court 1996
The standard for determining whether a judgment is void is well settled: whether the court had general jurisdiction of the subject matter, whether the judgment was wholly outside the pleadings, and whether the court had jurisdiction of the parties.- in Dalton v. Deuel, 2008 and 8 similar citations
… , on the face of the record, “(1) that the Court. had no general jurisdiction of the subject matter of the litigation; or (2) that the decree itself is wholly outside of the pleadings, and no binding consent thereto is shown in the record; or (3) that the Court had no jurisdiction of the party complaining, in person or by representation of interest; in which case it is void only as to such …- in STATE EX REL. CITY OF CHATTANOOGA v. DELINQUENT TAXPAYERS, 2008 and 5 similar citation.
A judgment is considered void if the record demonstrates that the court entering it lacked jurisdiction over either the subject matter or the person, or did not have the authority to make the challenged judgment.- in Team Design v. Gottlieb, 2002 and one similar citation.
This case presents for review the decision of the Court of Appeals that the judgment granting a divorce to the parents of a child under 18 years of age on the ground of irreconcilable differences was void ab initio because the complaint had not been on file for 90 days when the judgment was entered.
As stated in Brown, Brown v. Brown, 198 Tenn. 600, 281 S.W.2d 492 (1955),
A distinction must be made in this regard between the mere erroneous exercise of a power granted, and the usurpation of a power where none exists.
Id. 281 S.W.2d at 499.
In Overby v. Overby, 224 Tenn. 523, 457 S.W.2d 851 (1970), the Court found a judgment awarding child support void because the trial court did not have jurisdiction over the defendant, who was not before the court either by service of process or by appearance. The Court concluded “[t]hat a judgment in personam against a defendant who is not before the court either by service of process or by the entry of appearance is void… .” That decision, however, does not support the attack on the divorce decree in this case, where both parties were before the Court.
Blackburn v. Blackburn, 270 SW 3d 42 – Tenn: Supreme Court 2008.
Motion to vacate a default judgment as void “may be made at any time.” 12 Moore’s Federal Practice § 60.44[c]; McLearn v. Cowen & Co., 660 F.2d 845, 848 (2d Cir.1981); Crosby v. The Bradstreet Co., 312 F.2d 483, 485 (2d Cir.1963) (judgment vacated as void thirty years after entry).
Accordingly, we hold that the Juvenile Court did not have subject matter jurisdiction to award relief pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 8-20-101 et seq. Finding that the Juvenile Court did not have subject matter jurisdiction, we must also find that the Consent Judgment entered was a void judgment.
A void judgment is one which shows upon the face of the record a want of jurisdiction in the court assuming to render the judgement, which want of jurisdiction may be either of the person, or of the subject matter generally, or of the particular question attempted to be decided or the relief assumed to be given.New York Casualty Co. v. Lawson, 24 S.W.2d 881, 883 (Tenn. 1930). “The question of whether a judgment is void `is always one of jurisdiction, that is, whether the order, judgment or process under attack comes within the lawful authority of the court or judge rendering or using it.” Edwards v. State, 269 S.W.3d 915, 920 (Tenn 2008)(quoting State ex rel. Anglin v. Mitchell, 575 S.W.2d 284, 287 (Tenn. 1979) overruled on other grounds).
The Juvenile Court did not have jurisdiction to award relief pursuant to a salary petition brought under Tenn. Code Ann. § 8-20-101 et seq. See Patterson v. Rout, 2002 WL 1592674 at *2. Therefore any judgment entered pursuant to this petition is void on its face. Finding that the juvenile court did not have subject matter jurisdiction to award the relief pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 8-20-101 et seq., we must find that both the consent judgment and the order of judgment from the contempt petition are void. Accordingly, we must vacate these judgments and dismiss the case. All other issues are pretermitted.
We hold that the juvenile court did not have subject matter jurisdiction under Tenn. Code Ann. § 8-20-101 et seq. The existence of subject matter jurisdiction is a fundamental requirement and dismissal is required whenever it is demonstrated that it does not exist. See Tenn. R. Civ. P. 12.08. “[W]hen an appellate court determines that a trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction, it must vacate the judgment and dismiss the case without reaching the merits of the appeal.” Dishmon, 15 S.W.3d at 480 (citations omitted). Accordingly, we vacate the judgment of the juvenile court and dismiss the case.
Motion to vacate a default judgment as void “may be made at any time.” 12 Moore’s FederalPractice § 60.44[c]; McLearn v. Cowen & Co., 660 F.2d 845, 848 (2d Cir.1981); Crosby v. TheBradstreet Co., 312 F.2d 483, 485 (2d Cir.1963) (judgment vacated as void thirty years afterentry).
“Fraud upon the court” makes void the orders and judgments of that court. The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held that a void order is void at all times, does not have to be reversed or vacated by a judge, cannot be made valid by any judge, nor does it gain validity by the passage of time. The order is void ab initio. Vallely v. Northern Fire & Marine Ins. Co., 254 U.S. 348, 41 S.Ct. 116 (1920). “Fraud destroys the validity of everything into which it enters,” Nudd v. Burrows (1875), 91 US 426, 23 Led 286,290; particularly when “a judge himself is a party to the fraud,” Cone v. Harris (Okl. 1924), 230 P. 721, 723. Windsor v. McVeigh (1876), 93 US 276, 23 Led 914, 918.Judge Anne McDonnell relies on N.J.S.A. 59:3-2(b) which states “A public employee is not liable for legislative or judicial action or inaction, or administrative action or inaction of a legislative or judicial nature”.