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Williams v. State of North Carolina [II]

United States Supreme Court
325 U.S. 226 (1945)



In Williams v. State of North Carolina, 317 U.S. 287 (1942) (Williams I), the United States Supreme Court held that North Carolina (plaintiff) could not refuse to recognize divorce decrees issued in Nevada on the grounds of an offense to North Carolina public policy. As set forth in the Court’s opinion in Williams I, the issue arose when North Carolina prosecuted Mr. Williams (defendant) and Ms. Hendrix (defendant) for bigamy. They were each married to other people and domiciled in North Carolina when they traveled to Nevada, procured divorces there, married each other there, and then returned to North Carolina. The Court concluded that the Nevada divorce decrees were entitled to full faith and credit because the substituted service received by the spouses of Williams and Hendrix met due process and because North Carolina was not challenging the findings that Williams and Hendrix met Nevada’s bona fide domicil requirement. Williams I resulted in a retrial of Williams and Hendrix. This time, North Carolina argued that Williams and Hendrix had not met the domicil requirement necessary for Nevada to have jurisdiction. The jury was informed that Nevada’s finding of sufficient domicil was prima facie, but not necessarily compelling, evidence that the condition was met. The jury could, therefore, reject the Nevada finding if there was evidence to the contrary. The jury found that Williams and Hendrix never abandoned their North Carolina domicil and, consequently, did not satisfy the Nevada domicil requirement for jurisdiction. Williams and Hendrix were convicted of bigamy. They petitioned the Supreme Court for certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Frankfurter, J.)

Concurrence (Murphy, J.)

Dissent (Rutledge, J.)

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