The Lake View State Bank of Chicago (bank) (plaintiff) sued Colthurst (defendant) to recover the principal and interest on Colthurst's debt. The debt was evidenced by a note, signed by Colthurst, obtained from the note's previous holder. The bank produced testimony that it was a holder of the note in due course. Colthurst argued the note was fraudulent and that the bank did not hold it in due course. The trial judge refused to allow Colthurst to introduce evidence of fraud unless Colthurst could first introduce evidence that the bank did not hold the note in due course. Later, the judge ruled Colthurst's only evidence on the due course issue was inadmissible, and consequently directed a verdict for the bank. Colthurst appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which disposed of two threshold matters before addressing the issue in the case.