LINFORD V. ELLISON, 155 U. S. 503 (1894)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Linford v. Ellison, 155 U.S. 503 (1894)

Linford v. Ellison

No. 90

Submitted November 22, 1894

Decided December 17, 1894

155 U.S. 503


A judgment of the Supreme Court of the Territory of Utah against the tax collector of a municipal corporation for fifty dollars, the value of property levied on by him for unpaid municipal taxes, rendered on the ground that a municipal corporation, which is a small village but has extensive limits, cannot tax farming lands for municipal purposes lying within the corporate limits but outside of the platted portion of the city and so far removed from the settled portion thereof that the owner would receive no benefits from the municipal government, does not draw in question the validity of the organic law of the territory or the scope of the authority to legislate conferred upon the territorial legislature by Congress, and as the matter in dispute, exclusive of costs, does not exceed the sum of five thousand dollars, nor involve the validity of a patent, or copyright, or of a treaty, this Court is without jurisdiction to review it.

This was an action brought by Ephraim P. Ellison in the District Court of the Third Judicial District of the Territory of Utah against James H. Linford, Jr., to recover damages for the conversion of a wagon belonging to plaintiff, which had been levied on by defendant, as tax collector of the City of Kaysville, for unpaid municipal taxes. A jury was waived and the cause submitted to the court for trial upon an agreed statement of facts. The court held the taxes invalid, and gave judgment in favor of plaintiff for $50 and costs. Defendant prosecuted an appeal to the supreme court of the territory,

Page 155 U. S. 504

which affirmed the judgment and defendant appealed to this Court. The supreme court of the territory filed the following findings of fact:

"First. That the defendant, James H. Linford, Jr., was the legal and acting collector of taxes for the City of Kaysville at the time of the transaction out of which this action arose."

"Second. That the City of Kaysville was a duly and legally organized municipal corporation under the laws of the Territory of Utah, and, in pursuance of ordinances duly passed, assessed and levied a regular municipal tax for city purposes upon all the premises and property within its corporate limits."

"That the tax levied upon the property of plaintiff not being paid, and having become delinquent, the defendant, in pursuance of authority conferred by the ordinances of the city, levied upon a wagon belonging to the plaintiff of the value of fifty dollars, and sold it to satisfy said taxes."

"Third. That the map or plat of the City of Kaysville, which was a part of the record, and marked 'Exhibit 1,' correctly shows the boundaries of the city and the location of the several tracts of plaintiff's land and of his store with reference to the platted and settled portion of the said city, and that the portion of the city which is platted into lots and blocks, and marked 'city lots,' as shown on said map, correctly shows the thickly settled portions of said city, and the only part thereof which is laid off into blocks and lots, with streets and alleys."

"Fourth. That plaintiff owns the three tracts of land where his name appears on the map, and that they are agricultural lands, used for farming purposes only, and on which he resides, and that he also owns a store at the point indicated by the letters 'F, U,' and 'E, P, E,' at a little place called Layton; that one of said tracts of land is situated a little over half a mile from the nearest part of the platted portion of the city. The second tract is situated about one mile and the third tract about two miles from the platted portion of the city, while the store is situated about two miles away at a little place called 'Layton,' on a county road leading to the city proper, and also on the line of the Utah Central Railroad."

"Fifth. That the City of Kaysville was incorporated by

Page 155 U. S. 505

an act of the Legislative Assembly of Utah Territory passed March 15, 1868, and contains about six hundred inhabitants in the platted portion thereof, and that it contains within its corporate limits more than twenty-three square miles."

"Sixth. It is not shown that the platted and settled portion of the city, or what may be termed the city proper, is likely to be extended in the direction of plaintiff's premises, nor that any streets, driveways, or other improvements in that direction are contemplated or are likely to be made, nor that the plaintiff will receive any benefit from the expenditures of the taxes for city purposes."

The cause was submitted on the merits and on a motion to dismiss.

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