Marcus Neff (plaintiff) hired J.H Mitchell for legal work. Neff failed to pay Mitchell, and Mitchell sued in Oregon state court. Neff was not a resident of the state or personally served with process. Instead, Mitchell published notice of the summons. After Neff failed to appear, default judgment was entered against him. Shortly thereafter, Neff took title to a tract of land in Oregon. Mitchell had the sheriff seize the land to be sold to satisfy the judgment. Mitchell bought the land at the auction and assigned it to Sylvester Pennoyer. Neff sued Pennoyer (defendant) to recover the property in the United States Circuit Court for the District of Oregon. The lower court concluded that Mitchell’s judgment was invalid due to defects in the affidavit on which the constructive service was based. Pennoyer appealed to the United States Supreme Court.