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Williams v. State of North Carolina [I]

United States Supreme Court
317 U.S. 287 (1942)


Facts

Mr. Williams (defendant) married Carrie Wyke in 1916 in North Carolina, where they continued to reside. Ms. Hendrix (defendant) married Thomas Hendrix in 1920 in North Carolina, where they continued to reside. In May 1940, Mr. Williams and Ms. Hendrix traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada. On June 26, they each filed for divorce from their respective spouses. Neither spouse received service of process in Nevada. Substituted service was provided to Mr. Hendrix by publication and by mail. Substituted service was provided to Ms. Wyke through personal delivery. In neither case did the North Carolina spouses enter an appearance. The Nevada court, having determined that Mr. Williams and Ms. Hendrix met the state’s bona fide residency requirement of six weeks, issued divorce decrees: on August 26 as to Mr. Williams and on October 4 as to Ms. Hendrix. Mr. Williams and Ms. Hendrix married each other in Nevada on October 4 then returned to North Carolina. The State of North Carolina (plaintiff), refusing to recognize the Nevada decrees, brought a bigamy action against them. They were convicted after a jury trial and sentenced to prison terms. The Supreme Court of North Carolina affirmed, citing Haddock v. Haddock, 201 U.S. 562 (1906). Mr. Williams and Ms. Hendrix petitioned the United States Supreme Court for certiorari.

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