Mississippi v. Louisiana Page 2

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Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 09, 1992 in Mississippi v. Louisiana

I guess there were two basic questions.

One, who owned the particular land, was it the Houston Group or the State of Louisiana?

James W. McCartney:

Correct.

The second question is was the land at issue located in Mississippi or Louisiana, right?

James W. McCartney:

Right.

Now, did the Fifth Circuit, do you think, did its judgment have any effect on the ownership dispute as opposed to the state boundary question?

James W. McCartney:

Yes, it did, Your Honor.

You think it did?

James W. McCartney:

Yes.

The land was patented as Mississippi land and the Fifth Circuit, the finding of the trial court was that it was, the private ownership was in the Houston Group.

That finding was reversed and renderee by the Fifth Circuit.

Now, are you here representing the Houston Group or Mississippi?

James W. McCartney:

Both, Your Honor.

Both.

James W. McCartney:

Yes.

My counsel advises under Louisiana law if it's Louisiana land it's owned by the state.

But the focus of the first of these issues is then the clearly erroneous rule or standard under Rule 52 which this Court has given more precision in Anderson v. Bessemer City and in Amadeo v. Zant, and has very clearly let it be known that if there are two permissible views of the evidence that there can virtually never be a clearly erroneous finding by the trial court, and that--

Mr. McCartney, do you think that rule necessarily applies in the case in which at least some people might have thought belonged in this Court in the first place?

You know, we have original jurisdiction of controversies between two states.

James W. McCartney:

--Yes.

Do you suppose we might have a little broader authority to review the fact finding that underlies the decision of such a controversy?

James W. McCartney:

Unquestionably, Your Honor.

It would be a different standard.

So that we may not be bound by the clearly erroneous standard.

James W. McCartney:

I would not agree with that.

You think we are bound by it?

James W. McCartney:

I would say that as the case comes up through the appellate court route that the appellate courts are bound by the erroneous standard.

If the case comes to the Supreme Court by the original jurisdiction route, then this Court has no constraints but it is likewise obligated to make the fact findings required as a matter of its original jurisdiction.

So I see a distinction between the standards of review under the clearly erroneous finding.

Depending upon how it gets here, you say.