COMITY - Black's Law Dictionary

What is COMITY? Definition of COMITY in Black's Law Dictionary - Legal dictionary - Glossary of legal terms.

Courtesy; complaisance; respect; a willingness to grant a privilege, not as a matter of right, but out of deference and good will. Dow v. Lillie, 26 N.D. 512, 144 N.W. 1082, 1088, L.R.A.1915D, 754; Cox v. Terminal R. Ass'n of St. Louis,331 Mo. 910, 55 S.W.2d 685.

Comity of Nations
( Lat. comitas gentium)
The most appropriate phrase to express the true foundation and extent of the obligation of the laws of one nation within the territories of another. Story, Confl.Laws, § 38. That body of rules which states observe towards one another from courtesy or mutual convenience, although they do not form part of international law. Holtz. Enc. s. v. Hilton v. Guyot, 159 U.S. 113, 16 S.Ct.
139, 40 L.Ed. 95; People v. Rushworth, 294 Ill. 455, 128 N.E. 555, 558; Second Russian Ins. Co. v. Miller, C.C.A.N.Y., 297 F. 404, 409.

It is derived altogether from the voluntary consent of the latter; and it is inadmissible when it is contrary to its known policy, or prejudicial to its interests. In the silence of any positive rule affirming or denying or restraining the operation of foreign laws, courts of justice presume the tacit adoption of them by their own government, unless repugnant to its policy, or prejudicial to its interests. It,is not the comity of the courts, but the comity of the nation, which is administered and ascertained in the same
way, and guided by the same reasoning, by which all other principles of the municipal law are ascertained and guided.

The recognition which one nation allows within its territory to the legislative, executive, or judicial acts of another nation, having due regard both to international duty and convenience and to the rights of its own citizens or of other persons who are under the protection of its laws. State ex rel. National Surety Corporation v. Price, 129 Neb. 433, 261 N.W. 894.

"The use of the word 'comity' as expressing the basis of jurisdiction has been criticized. It is, however, a mere question of definition. The principles lying behind the word are recognized. * * * The truth remains that jurisdiction depends upon the law of the forum, and this law in turn depends upon the public policy disclosed by the acts and declarations of the political departments of the government." Russian Socialist Federated Soviet Republic v. Cibrario, 235 N.Y. 255, 139 N.E. 259, 260.

'Judicial Comity
The principle in accordance with which the courts of one state or jurisdiction will give effect to the laws and judicial decisions of another, not as a matter of obligation, but out of deference and respect. Franzen v. Zimmer, 35 N.Y.S. 612, 90 Hun 103; Stowp v. Bank, C.C.Me., 92 F. 96; Strawn Mercantile Co. v. First Nat. Bank, Tex. Civ.App., 279 S.W. 473, 474; Bobala v. Bobala, 68 Ohio App. 63, 33 N.E.2d 845, 849.

There is no statute or common law rule by which one court is bound to abide by the decisions of another court of equal rank. It does so simply for what may be called comity among judges. There is no common law or statutory rule to oblige a court to bow to its own decisions; it does so on the ground of judicial comity. (1884) 9 P.D. 98, per Brett, M. R.

Of such a use of the word, however, Dicey says : "The term 'comity' * * * is open to the charge of implying that the judge, when he applies foreign law to a particular case, does so as a matter of caprice or favor."

Comity is not a rule of law, but one of practice, convenience and expediency. It is something more than mere courtesy, which implies only deference to the opinion of others, since it has a substantial value in securing uniformity of decision, and discouraging repeated litigation of the same question. But its obligation is not imperative. Comity persuades; but it does not command. It declares not how a case shall be decided, but how it may with propriety be decided. Mast, Foos & Co. v. Mfg. Co., 177 U.S.485, 488, 20 S.Ct. 708, 44 L.Ed. 856; National Electric Signaling Co. v. Telefunken Wireless Telegraph Co. of United
States, C.C.A.N.Y., 221 F. 629, 632; Lauer V. Freudenthal,96 Wash. 394, 165 P. 98, 99.

Comity of States
Simply a phrase designating the practice by which the courts of one state follow the decision of another on a like question, though not bound by law of precedents to do so. Larrick v. Walters, 39Ohio App. 363, 177 N.E. 642, 645.

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