U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. Ortiz, 176 U.S. 422 (1900)
United States v. Ortiz
Argued October 11, 1899
Decided February 26, 1900
176 U.S. 422
In the hearing of an application for confirmation of an alleged Mexican grant the law casts primarily upon the applicant the duty of tendering such proof as to the existence, regularity and archive record of the grant, as well as his connection with it, such as possession, ownership and other related incidents, of sufficient probative force to create a just inference as to the reality and validity of the grant, before the burden of proof, if at all, can be shifted from the claimant to the United States.
The surveyor general had authority to make a supplementary investigation, and the supplementary proceedings were properly admitted in evidence.
The special qualifications of the witness Tipton, resulting from his great familiarity with the signatures of Armijo and Vigil, qualified him to testify as an expert as to the genuineness of the signatures upon the alleged grant which were claimed to be theirs.
Genuine signatures of Armijo and of Vigil, shown to have come from the archives, were properly received in evidence as standards of comparison with the signatures offered to prove the alleged grant.
Enlarged photographs of such original signatures were also properly received.
After an extended examination of the testimony, the Court holds that it is unnecessary to examine or decide upon the questions made as to the form of the alleged grant and other questions, and refrains from expressing an opinion upon all, and holds that the court below erred in confirming the grant.
The statement of the case will be found in the opinion of the