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spectively, as his duties are defined. It was The bonds themselves show by whom they not the intention of the act to vest in the were issued. No other evidence as to this county judge the authority to issue bonds is necessary, as the signatures thereto are of the county, or to give him any unlimited not denied. scope whereby the county might be bound It results that plaintiff is not entitled to by such bonds as he should determine to a judgment against Obion county, but is issue in the construction of any proposed entitled to judgment on the bonds for the drainage district. Such authority might be amount delinquent, with interest thereon dangerous in the extreme, whereas the au- and attorney's fees, against Obion River thority which is vested in the county judge drainage district No. 2, and against the deby the act is reasonable and in the matter linquent individual landowners to the of issuing the bonds themselves his acts are amount of the assessments against the parlargely ministerial. Other agencies make ticular tracts of land within the district, but the assessments and determine upon the for the satisfaction of the judgment plainamount, and all these matters were matters tiff must look to said lands and the funds of which plaintiff had notice or should have in the hands of the trustee collected from had notice. It was plaintiff's duty to inves- the assessments against the same. tigate before purchasing the bonds. Plaintiff is presumed to know what that investigation would have revealed. If it failed to so investigate, such failure cannot be now charged against the county.
HUNTER GLOVER CO. v. HARVEY STEEL
PRODUCTS CORPORATION.  Exception is made by plaintiff to that part of the evidence offered by defend- (District Court, W. D. Tennessee, E. D. No. ant, Obion county, to the effect that the
vember 12, 1924.) records of the county would show that no
No. 16. election was held to authorize the issuance
1. Taxation 411-Assessment roll must of the bonds in question, and that they
show valuation, assessment, and tax clearly were issued without authority from the and unmistakably. Quarterly county court, and by the county Under the settled law of Tennessee, the tax judge and county court clerk under the pro- lists or assessment rolls must show the valuavisions of the Act of 1909. In view of the
tion and assessment of property and the
amount of the tax thereon clearly and unmisfact, as above stated, that no authority ex
takably, and perpendicular lines dividing the isted warranting such officials to bind the sheet into columns containing figures in the abcounty by the issuance of the bonds, such sence of dollar marks and with nothing defitestimony is not incompetent and may be dollars or cents, or both, are not sufficient, and
nitely showing whether the figures represent offered as against even a bona fide pur- the assessment and all subsequent proceedings chaser for value. Merrill v. Monticello, 138 based thereon are void. U. S. 673, 11 S. Ct. 441, 34 L. Ed. 1069; 2. Courts fm 367—Construction of statutes by Brenham v. German American Bank, 144 state courts binding on federal courts. U. S. 173, 12 S. Ct. 559, 36 L. Ed. 390; The construction of a statute by the highest Brownsville v. Loague, 129 U. S. 493, 9 S.
court of the state and the settled law of the
state, which has become a rule of property or Ct. 327, 32 L. Ed. 780; Barnett v. Denni
of action, are binding on the federal courts. son, 145 U. S. 135, 12 S. Ct. 819, 36 L. Ed.
3. Taxation 428—Dollar mark on assess. 652; South Ottawa v. Perkins, 94 U. S.
ment roll should clearly indicate to what fig. 260, 24 L. Ed. 154.
ures it applies. It is further objected that the records are While a dollar mark is a well-recognized not offered. This objection would be good symbol, when used on an assessment roll it if the matters sought to be shown as to the clearly indicate to what figures it was intended
should be in such proximity to the figures as to want of an election were an affirmatiye mat- to apply. ter which appeared on the records, but 4. Evidence Em 89—Presumption of regularity where it is sought to establish the absence of official acts may be rebutted by record. of a record, the testimony of a county offi- While the validity and regularity of the cial that he has searched the records and acts of public officers is presumed, where the that inquired about does not appear is com
party invoking such presumption produces the
record, which contradicts the presumption, be petent. 22 C. J. p. 1006, § 1282(b), note is bound thereby. 55, and authorities there cited. Same, section 1283 (bb), and authorities under notes In Equity. Suit by the Hunter Glover 60 and 61.
Company against the Harvey Steel Prod
3 F.(20) 634 ucts Corporation. On exceptions by receive in the city of Jackson, on which real estate er to report of special master, allowing or a portion of which there was being opclaims for taxes. Exceptions sustained. erated a manufacturing establishment; that
Spragins & Hewgley and C. E. Pigford, under the law providing for the assessall of Jackson, Tenn., for Hunter Glover ments of property for taxes, and particuCo.
larly under the Act of 1907 of the LegislaBond & Bond, of Jackson, Tenn., for ture of Tennessee (Laws 1907, c. 602), the Harvey Steel Products Corporation.
officers charged with the duty of assessing
property for taxes sought to so assess the ROSS, District Judge. This matter is property in question, and certified copies presented for final consideration upon nu
of the assessment rolls are filed as exhibits
The record must be conmerous reports of the special master as to with the record. claims filed against the estate of defendant sidered as presented, and by it the parties and upon exceptions to certain of such re- are bound. The provisions of the act of ports.
1907 relative to the assessment of property, A receiver was heretofore appointed at both real and personal, for taxation are the instance of plaintiff for the estate of similar in the main to the acts of the Legdefendant, and the business was operated islature of Tennessee for many years prefor a time by such receiver until a sale of ceding, except as to the provision in the the property was had, and it is out of the act of 1907 that as to real estate proceedassets in the hands of the receiver that it is ings for the assessment and collection of now sought to have the claims filed allowed. taxes against the same shall be considered
 Orders have heretofore been entered as proceedings in rem. Whether that prorelative to several of the claims reported on
vision of the act of 1907 is applicable as by the master, and, in so far as his reports contended in behalf of the state, county, are now on file to which special orders and city on the one hand or inapplicable, as have not heretofore been entered, each of insisted by the receiver on the other hand, said reports is hereby confirmed and all ex
is a matter not here determined, for, as ceptions thereto respectively overruled and stated, the assessment rolls are made exdisallowed, except as to the report in the hibits, and upon the evidence as submitted matter of the taxes claimed by the state of the rights of the parties must be decided. Tennessee, Madison county, and the city of
Since the decision in the case of RanJackson, against the estate in the hands of dolph v. Metcalf, 46 Tenn. (6 Cold.) 400, the receiver. As to the claim for taxes the 407, decided by the Supreme Court of Tenmaster reported that the state, county, and nessee in 1869, it has been the settled law city respectively were entitled to recover of this state that, where property is astaxes for the years 1918, 1919, 1920, and sessed for taxes, and the assessment rolls 1921 accordingly as their claims appeared. show facts similar to those shown by the Numerous exceptions have been filed to the exhibits in this case, such assessments and holding of the special master in the matter all subsequent proceedings based thereon of the taxes; however only one of such ex- are void. In that case it appeared that the ceptions will be here especially considered,
taxes claimed were assessed on sheets or inasmuch as that exception is determinative blanks whereon there appeared certain perof the matter as it is now considered. The pendicular lines and certain figures in the particular exception to be disposed of is columns made thereby, but there was noththat the assessments of the property in ing definitely showing, nor was there anyquestion were void for the reason that the thing to show, the meaning of such figures, officials assessing such property failed to whether they were intended to represent show, as required by law, the value of the dollars, cents, or either or both, and it was property assessed or any valuation relative held that it was incumbent upon the state. thereto or the amount of the taxes or any or county seeking to collect taxes to propamounts as against the same.
erly assess such property in the first inThe record discloses that defendant was stance, and that a void assessment would the successor of the Southern Engine & preclude a collection of such taxes.
In Boiler Works and the Southern Engine & this case the court said at page 407 : Boiler Manufacturing Company; that they “The evident intention of the Legislature and defendant were corporations with their was that the judgment and sale of land for principal places of business respectively at taxes should be held good, if there was a Jackson, Tenn., and that they in turn owned reasonable compliance with the law. Let certain real estate and personal property us test this condemnation and sale by the provisions of the act of 1844: The name of eral significance given to them as would adthe owner of the lot is correctly given; the thorize the court to adopt that meaning. number is properly set forth, but the rec- They are convenient divisions for keeping ord fails to disclose, with certainty to a figures in line (figures of all sorts), in long common intent, the amount of the taxes, columns, to facilitate additions, and that costs, etc. We see the figures 500 under the is the use to which they are put in business. head of Value, 125 under the head of Tax, They are not, so far as we know, generally 100 under the head of Col., 150 under that used as symbols or substitutes for dollar of Clerk, etc. There is nothing to show for marks. Nor is there any testimony to the what these figures stand; whether they rep- effect that there is such habitual general resent dollars or cents, or dollars only. use of them. The fact that lines of this There is no mark to designate the meaning. character have been used for a series of It is said we may read the report and judg- years in the tax offices of twenty counties ment of condemnation, and, knowing the of this state would not make a usage so statute under which said judgment was ren- general as to convert such perpendicular dered, would understand its proper connec- lines into symbols. The assessments must tion, meaning, and object; but the act pro- therefore be held void on this ground. vides the same must be stated with certainty to a common intent. Is this so? We Hamilton v. Gas Light Co., 115 Tenn. think not. There is nothing to show for 150, 90 S. W. 159, is a case more nearly what they stand; whether for dollars, cents, parallel with the facts of the case under or what they indicate.
consideration than either of the cases above This case cited McClellan v. Cornwell, 2 cited, as in this latter case it appears that Cold. (Tenn.) 300; Lawrence v. Fast, 20 the exhibits not only had the perpendicuIll. 338, 71 Am. Dec. 274; Blackwell on lar lines under various headings such as Tax Titles, 202.
"Value," "Description,” etc., but the lines In Barnes v. Brown, 1 Tenn. Ch. page were regularly divided by red perpendicu726, at page 740, the cases of Randolph v. lar lines, and in this case the court said, at Metcalf, supra, and Anderson v. Post, de- page 152, 90 S. W. 159, 160: cided by the court of chancery appeals of "Examining the lists as they appear in Tennessee and reported in 38 S. W. 283, the record, so far as they relate to this parare cited with approval.
ticular property, it appears that it was In the Barnes Case there appears a por- sold to the state of Tennessee. It further tion of the exhibit which was a part of the appears that there are certain figures enassessment roll offered in the case which tered on the lists between perpendicular shows a very similar state of facts to that lines, but there is nothing to show or indipresented in the instant case, except that cate what is meant by these figures. There in addition to the perpendicular line spoken is no dollar mark attached to any of them, of in the Barnes Case and appearing on nor does the dollar mark appear anywhere that exhibit and on the exhibits in the in- upon the lists, except in the valuation of stant case, no dollar mark appeared on the the property. exhibit in the Barnes Case at any place. “It has been held in a number of cases In passing upon the validity of the assess- that the absence of the dollar mark to inment it is said at page 740:
dicate what is meant by the figures in the "It [referring to the exhibit] has run- assessment of property is fatal to the asning across the page 20 spaces, subdivided sessment, and that perpendicular lines beby perpendicular lines into numerous small- tween the figures, separating them, will not er spaces.
It has been twice held suffice to make the assessment good. The in this state that the absence of the dollar question is fully treated in Barnes V. mark is fatal to the assessment. Randolph Brown, 1 Tenn. Ch. App. 740. v. Metcalf, 6 Cold. 400, 405, 406, 407; An- “The holding in that case is followed in derson v. Post, 38 S. W. Rep. 283. This the case of Anderson v. Post (Tenn. Ch. latter case was decided by the court of App.) 38 S. W. 283, which case is approved chancery appeals, and affirmed by the Su- by the case of Dunn v. Dunn, 99 Tenn. preme Court, and again referred to with 612, 42 S. W. 259, and the same doctrine approval in the case of Dunn v. Dunn, 15 is also held by this court in the case of Pick., at page 612. This point seems, there. Randolph v. Metcalf, 6 Cold. 400-407, and fore, to be well settled in this state. Will in a large number of unreported cases. the perpendicular lines take the place of “We are of the opinion that defects of dollar marks? We know of no such gen- the character mentioned, which will render
3 F.(20) 634 an assessment invalid and void because it
In support of this statement the authoridoes not state specifically, plainly, and defi- ty cites Woods v. Freeman, supra; Lawnitely the amount of taxes, will likewise rence v. Fast, 20 Ill. 338, 71 Am. Dec. 274; render the lists of sales insufficient and Wilson v. Glos, 266 Ill. 392, 107 N. E. 630, void.
Ann. Cas. 1916B, 539; Eppinger v. Kirby, "Looking at the lists as we find them in 23 Ill. 521, 76 Am. Dec. 709; note, Ann. the record, the figures appear to be added Cas. 1915C, 338. into a total of 1527. There is a red line  It may thus be said that not only is between the 5 and 2, but no dollar mark ap- it the settled law of Tennessee decided by pears anywhere, either in the separate items its highest court that assessments such as or in the total amount; and we are left to are mentioned above are void, but that such conjecture whether the amount is $1,527 or is the statutory construction of such pro$15.27, or some other amount, or whether, visions by the highest court of Tennessee, indeed, it represents any amount in dollars and it is also the general rule of law. The and cents.
construction of a statute by the highest “We cannot assume that the perpendicu- court of a state is binding upon this court. lar red lines are symbols or substitutes for Sims v. Insurance Co. (C. C. A. 6) 296 F. dollar marks.”
115; Vassar Foundry Co. v. Whiting CorFurther, on page 154, 90 S. W. 160, it poration (C. C. A. Sixth Cir.) 2 F. (20) is said:
240, decided November 3, 1924. Likewise “We think it important that this list of the settled law of a state which has become sales by the trustee, furnished to the clerk a rule of property or action is binding upof the circuit court, should be equally as on this court. Burgess v. Seligman, 107 U. specific and definite in showing the amount S. at page 23, and authorities cited by this of taxes in dollars and cents, as well as case on pages 34 and 35, 2 S. Ct. 10, 27 L. each item of costs and penalties in dollars Ed. 359. and cents, as would be required to make a Applying the rule as shown above to the valid assessment, and the lists failing to assessment lists offered as exhibits in this show specifically and definitely the amount case, such assessments are void. In the exof each item of taxes, costs, and penalties, hibit on behalf of the state of Tennessee, the lists will be insufficient and invalid to which is likewise on behalf of the city, it divest title out of the owner of the proper- appears that the lists contained horizontal ty, and to rest it in the state, or in the lines on the left side thereof for the depurchaser from the state."
scription of the property, and that there It will be noted that the Tennessee au- also appears a large number of perpendicuthorities are clear, and have been for more lar lines, some of which are red, and some than half a century, that the assessment blue, some of the red lines extending to the lists or rolls should show definitely and top horizontal line which runs entirely clearly the amount of each item of taxes as- across the sheet, and some of which and the sessed against each particular piece of blue perpendicular lines extend to a double property and the value thereof as well as red line about one-half inch below the top the amount of taxes due based upon such line mentioned. These perpendicular lines valuation, and that the matter should not divide the paper into irregular spaces. be left to conjecture or inference.
Running at right angles to the perpendicuFurthermore, the Supreme Court of the lar lines entirely across the sheet are blue United States has held in Woods v. Free- lines.' In the space between the two lines man, 68 U. S. 398, 17 L. Ed. 543, that the at the top running the entire length of the matter cannot be left to conjecture or in- paper are various headings, such as “No. ference, and that the use of numerals with Town Lot,” “Value Town Lot in Corporaout some mark indicating for what they tion by Assessor,” “Value Town Lot out of stand is insufficient. This case'is cited but Corporation by Assessor.” In the space here distinguished in Ballard v. Hunter, 204 U. provided on the extreme left at the top apS. 259, 27 S. Ct. 261, 51 L. Ed. 461. pears a dollar mark, the first appearing on
In 26 R. C. L. § 312, at pages 355, 356, the paper. Another heading is, "No Acres it is said:
of Land,” another, “Value Acres of Land "It is held by the weight of authority by Assessor," with a dollar mark as in the that an assessment expressed in figures instance above mentioned; “Inc. Value of without indication to show that the figures Real Estate over $200”; “Total Value of represent the number of dollars of the as- Real Estate, etc.” One heading is, “Value sessment is void for uncertainty."
Personal Property Fixed by Board of
Equalizers, Less $1,000,” another heading, appears anywhere in this column, nor do “Total Real, Personal, and Other Proper- any other figures appear on the assessment ty." Each of these headings is separated sheet except under the heading “Value Perby & perpendicular red line, and all of sonal Property Fixed by Board of Equalthem have a dollar mark as above men- izers, Less $1,000.” In the seventh space tioned, except that of “Value Town Lots, below the top appear the figures 55000. etc." The space for the dollar mark is The two fives appear in one space and the double the space between any other two of three naughts in spaces divided by perpenthe perpendicular lines except that appear- dicular blue lines. At the top of the colo ing on the right-hand side of the shorter umn in the space where the two fives apred perpendicular line. The space between pear there is a dollar mark. Practically that and the long perpendicular red line the same may be said of the assessment might be said to be the equal of three of sheet for 1921 for the city of Jackson and the smaller spaces, if not more. But under Tennessee, except that the figures are not no heading where figures appear on the exactly the same and in the space under sheets is there a dollar mark any nearer to “Value Town Lot, etc.". Between the short any of such figures than in the extreme left- red perpendicular line and the long red one hand corner at the top of the columns un- there appear in four of the spaces two der the respective headings. There is no naughts to each space. No dollar mark or dollar mark sufficiently near any of the fig- anything indicating dollars or cents appears ures to enable one to say that it was meant anywhere under this heading, and in some to apply to any particular figure or set of the spaces two figures appear, in some of figures, nor does any dollar mark appear one, and some of the figures appear to be anywhere on the sheets except as above made on the line and not in any space. stated. In the assessments for the city of The same appears as to personal property Jackson and Tennessee for 1919 there sim- as in the assessment for 1920 with the same ply appears under the name of "Present figures given. Owner," "Southern E. & B. Works.” Un- For the years 1918, 1919, 1920, and der description of property “Personal 1921 from Exhibits A and B which are cerProperty,” under heading “Value Personal tified as true copies of the tax book for Property Fixed by Board of Equalizers," Madison county, Tenn., appear many fig. there appears in the sixteenth space from ures on sheets somewhat larger, but almost the top of the figures 35000. The 3 and 5 identical as to ruling and arrangement with appear together in the space under the col- those above described, except that at the umn headed by a dollar mark. The three head of the space under "Value Town Lots" naughts appear each in a separate space there appears a dollar mark, but in the fig. immediately to the right of the 5. No line ures appearing in this space, beginning sevdivides the 3 and 5, nor do any figures ap- eral spaces below where the dollar mark pear in the space appearing between the appears, such figures are not confined to short perpendicular red line and the long spaces, nor do they appear regularly be
For the year 1920 the property for tween lines or on lines. Many of them are the city of Jackson and Tennessee is as- almost evenly on a perpendicular line, in sessed as real estate, city lots, and there ap- some spaces two figures appear in some pears in the column under the heading one, but everywhere with irregularity and “Value Town Lots, etc.," the figures on the nothing to indicate any certain system of fourth space from the top 110000. The division by symbols or lines. If it could figures 110 appear in one space to the left, be said that each rectangle made by the inand immediately to the right of one long tersections of the horizontal and perpendicperpendicular red line. Three naughts fol- ular lines on the left of the short red perlow in regular spaces to the immediate pendicular line between the heavy perpenright of the first naught and all to the left dicular red lines was intended to represent of the short red perpendicular line before a dollar or dollars, as the case might be, the next long red perpendicular line. In the because there appeared at the extreme left next space below the figures above men- at the top of such space a dollar mark, yet tioned appear the figures 2750 in regular in some instances it would show that more spaces. In the space immediately below numerals than one were thus represented in them the figures 650 in regular spaces and one space, in some none, and in some, as two spaces below the figures 550. All these stated, the line evenly divides a figure or figures are to the left of the short red per- numeral, and in some one numeral will ocpendicular line mentioned. No dollar mark cupy practically two spaces, and such is a