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U.S. Supreme Court

Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Ry. Co. v. Babcock, 204 U.S. 585 (1907)

Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railway Company v. Babcock

Nos. 215, 341

Argued January 21, 22, 1907

Decided February 25, 1907

204 U.S. 585


Railroad corporations attacked assessments made by a state assessing board and sought to enjoin the collection of taxes based thereon beyond a sum tendered, claiming that, induced by political clamor and fear, the board had arbitrarily fixed excessive valuations and had included property beyond the jurisdiction of the state, thus depriving the corporations of their property without due process. The bills charged political duress and a consequent scheme of fraud. The board, after declaring that it had taken into consideration the returns furnished by the corporations and their respective stocks, bonds, properties and earnings, fixed the total valuations and average mileage value of property in the state and then fixed a lower value for assessment purposes, which the corporations claimed was arbitrary and excessive. Members of the assessing board were called as witnesses and cross-examined as to the operation of their minds in reaching the valuation. Held that:

The charges of fraud and duress were not sustained.

In an independent proceeding attacking the judgment of an assessing board, it is improper to cross-examine the members in an attempt to exhibit confusion in their minds as to the method by which the result was reached.

In a suit of this nature, this Court will not consider complaints as to results reached by a state board of assessors, except those based on fraud or the clear adoption of a fundamentally wrong principle.

In this suit, it does not appear that the present Union Pacific Railroad Company has any United States franchises which were taxed by the State of Nebraska or improperly considered in estimating the assessment for taxation of the company's property in that state.

The facts are stated in the opinion.

Page 204 U. S. 591

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