Simons v. Miami Beach First National Bank

PETITIONER: Simons
RESPONDENT: Miami Beach First National Bank
LOCATION: United States Post Office and Courthouse

DOCKET NO.: 363
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: State appellate court

CITATION: 381 US 81 (1965)
ARGUED: Mar 10, 1965
DECIDED: May 03, 1965

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Simons v. Miami Beach First National Bank

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 10, 1965 in Simons v. Miami Beach First National Bank

Earl Warren:

Number 363, Lucy C. Simons, Petitioner, versus Miami Beach First National Bank.

Mr. Ward.

Robert C. Ward:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

This is a domestic relations case arising out of the question of whether or not the Florida courts are required to give full faith and credit to a New York separation decree in connection with the establishment of a widow's right to dower subsequent to the entry of an ex parte divorce decree in the Florida courts.

As this Court is well aware, there's no tendency for the solution to the problem of the domestic relations problems that arise in the United States.

And I think that each case must be taken and analyzed by reason and logic in order to reach a conclusion that's fair to all of the parties.

William O. Douglas:

Counsel for that, do you mind if I state to you what my problem with your case is?

Robert C. Ward:

No sir.

William O. Douglas:

When did you present the federal -- this federal question, this full faith and credit?

Robert C. Ward:

I think the problem has been presented at all stages of the proceedings, Your Honor.

William O. Douglas:

I wasn't able to --

Robert C. Ward:

-- the District Court of Appeals --

William O. Douglas:

I hope --

Robert C. Ward:

-- and by the assignments of error.

William O. Douglas:

And I hope it was presented in the petition for rehearing before the Court of Appeals, but was that the first time?

Robert C. Ward:

No sir, I think it was presented in the original assignments of error.

It was before the lower court when the --

William O. Douglas:

Well, could you help -- help me find those and -- not this minute I say --

Robert C. Ward:

Yes sir.

William O. Douglas:

-- but during the course of your argument.

Robert C. Ward:

Yes sir.

I think that the problem has arisen originally because the courts, not only the trial court, the District Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court of Florida have failed to recognize the point that we attempt to assert.

They have in each instance decree that we were barred by reason of the fact that this point was not raised at the time the divorce suit was instituted.

The Florida courts have taken the position that is incumbent upon the nonresident wife to come into the State of Florida and to present this defense of res judicata or requiring the Florida Court to give full faith and credit to the New York separation decree at the time that the husband institutes the divorce proceeding.

And that she cannot wait until a subsequent date to make this presentation.

Potter Stewart:

My -- my problem is this Mr. Ward, and again, I -- I leave it to you that to answer in the course of your argument if you cannot right now but even if the wife had done that, then the Florida Court would have said, “Alright yes, you know you've told us about this separate -- the separate maintenance decree, and we recognized it and we ordered the husband to keep paying you.”

Well, in fact that's what did happened.

He did pay all his lifetime until his death.

And so, what -- what would have been gained?

What more -- what more could have been gained?