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U.S. Supreme Court

Barkley v. Levee Commissioners, 93 U.S. 258 (1876)

Barkley v. Levee Commissioners

93 U.S. 258


1. A public corporation charged with specific duties, such as building and repairing levees within a certain district, being superseded in its functions by a law dividing the district and creating a new corporation for one portion and placing the other under charge of the local authorities, ceases to exist except so far as its existence is expressly continued for special objects, such as settling up its indebtedness, and the like.

2. If, with such limited existence, no provision is made for the continuance or new election of the officers of such corporation, the functions of the existing officers will cease when their respective terms expire, and the corporation will be de facto extinct.

3. In such case, if there be a judgment against the corporation, mandamus will not lie to enforce the assessment of taxes for its payment, there being no officers to whom the writ can be directed.

4. The court cannot, by mandamus, compel the new corporations to perform the duties of the extinct corporation in the levy of taxes for the payment of its debts, especially where their territorial jurisdiction is not the same and the law has not authorized them to make such levy.

5. Nor can the court order the marshal to levy taxes in such a case, nor in any case except where a specific law authorizes such a proceeding.

6. Under these circumstances, the judgment creditor is in fact without remedy, and can only apply to the legislature for relief.

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