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Opinion of the Court.
cide at the moment and takes time for consideration, it may thereby lose its jurisdiction to act at all. We do not so understand the law. The District Court is one of general jurisdiction. Section 2686 provides that upon the completion of the publication and the filing of the complaint the "court shall acquire full and complete jurisdiction” over the property for all purposes whatever necessary to enable it to carry out the purposes and intention of the act. The special provisions, to which we have heretofore referred, will doubtless guide in all cases in which no contest is made. They were evidently designed to secure prompt action on the part of the tax collector, as well as the court, and if no objections be made and a delinquent tax list, correct in form and duly published, is presented there need be no delay in entering the judgment. But inasmuch as this proceeding is one in a court of general jurisdiction it would require very precise and prohibitory language in the statute in order to withhold from that court the ordinary functions and powers of such a tribunal, among which is not only the right but the duty of giving such full consideration to all questions presented as its judgment determines is necessary. No such prohibitory language is found. The purposes and intention of the act are the collection of taxes, but only of such taxes as ought to be collected, and judicial determination is invoked to determine what taxes are justly due; and that the court takes time for the examination and consideration of this question does not oust it of jurisdiction
Another objection is to the entry on this delinquent tax list of taxes for the year 1889. It appears that on the 21st of September, 1891, the board of supervisors adopted a resolution, reciting in substance that the property described therein (which included the property of appellants) was duly assessed for the taxes of the year 1889; that it became delinquent; that a suit to recover the taxes was duly brought, in which it was finally adjudged that the publication was insufficient, and that the taxes could not be recovered in such action; and that they had not been paid, and directing that the property be reassessed, and the taxes for the year 1889 be relevied upon it,
Opinion of the Court.
and that the clerk insert such taxes on the tax roll for the current year. This was done under authority of an act of the legislature (Sess. Laws, 1891, p. 146), which reads as follows:
“SEC. 1. Whenever any tax or assessment, or any part thereof, levied on real or personal property, whether heretofore or hereafter levied shall bave been set aside or determined to be illegal or void, or the collection thereof prevented by the judgment of any court, or wherever any tax collector shall have been prevented by injunction from collecting or returning any such tax or assessment in consequence of any irregularity or error in any of the proceedings in the assessment of such real or personal property, the levy of such tax, or the proceedings for its collection, or of any erroneous or imperfect description of such property, or of any omission to comply with any form or step required by law, or the including of any illegal addition with the lawful tax, or for any other cause; then, if the real or personal property was properly taxable or assessable, if it be not a proper case to collect by a resale of the property, such tax, or so much thereof as shall, not have been collected and as may be taxable or assessable thereto, may be reassessed or relevied upon such property at any time within four years after such judgment or the dissolution of the injunction, if any was granted as above stated ; and the proper county board of supervisors shall make an order directing the same to be reassessed upon such property; and the clerk of the board of supervisors of said county shall insert the same in the tax roll, opposite such description of said property, in a separate column, as an additional tax, and the same shall be collected as a part of the tax for the year when so placed on the tax roll, in the same manner and with like penalties as other taxes are collected.”
No other evidence was offered by the Territory than the delinquent tax list and the above resolution. It is contended that this evidence is insufficient; that the board of supervisors have no power to act except upon the existence of certain precedent conditions which must be affirmatively shown; and, further, that if this be not so, the recital in the resolution, of itsell, shows that there was no sufficient warrant for charging
Opinion of the Court.
these taxes against the property. This contention cannot be sustained. The delinquent tax list is made prima facie evidence that the taxes charged therein are due against the property. This means all tho taxes; not only those for the current year, but those for past years, and this tax list was, therefore, prima facie evidence, of the rightfulness of the charge against the property for the taxes of the prior year. If there were any valid reason why the property should not be subjected to those taxes it was the duty of the objectors to state the reason and give evidence in support thereof. While it may be, as counsel insist, that the section quoted is “unhappily worded” and “certainly crude,” yet its meaning is obvious. The clauses “the collection thereof prevented by the judgment of any court” and “if the real or personal property was properly taxable or assessable, if it be not a proper case to collect by a resale of the property, such tax
may be reassessed or relevied upon such property at any time within four years after such judgment,” mean that Ivhenever a suit has been instituted in a court, as provided by the statute heretoforo referred to, and fails to become operative through the judgment of the court, then, if the property is properly taxable and no resale can be had without further action of the court, the board of supervisors may place the property upon the tax roll of the current year to be collected as other taxes of that year. .
From the recital in this resolution, it appears that certain proceedings for the collection of taxes for 1889 failed by reason of the judgment of the court, declaring the publication insufficient. That put an end to the suit. It was not a defect in the process issued after and upon the judgment, which, perhaps, might be obviated by the issue of new process, but a failure of the court to render judgment because of prior defects. Under those circumstances the power and the duty of the board of supervisors to renew efforts to collect such taxes were given and imposed by this section, and the procedure provided was a reassessment and the placing of the taxes on the tax roll for the current year. This was done and nothing more; and no evidence was offered to show that those
Opinion of the Court.
taxes were not properly chargeable upon the property, or that they had ever been paid. Evidently it was the intention of the legislature, and a just intention, that no property should escape its proper share of the burden of taxation by means of any defect in the tax proceedings, and that, if there should happen to be such defect, preventing for the time being the collection of the taxes, steps might be taken in a subsequent year to place them again upon the tax roll and collect them.
Again, it is contended that the board of equalization raised the value of the property of appellants arbitrarily and without notice or evidence. But the testimony does not sustain this contention. The only evidence in respect to the matter was that of a witness, T. A. Judd, who testified that the board of equalization added six per cent to the value of stock cattle; but nowhere does it appear that this was done without proof of the value, or without due notice to all parties interested. We cannot assume, in the face of the prima facie evidence furnished by the delinquent tax list, that any official failed in his duty.
Another objection is that part of the property held to be subject to taxation was an unconfirmed Mexican land grant. It was admitted on the hearing in the District Court that certain tracts of land in the list described were “each Mexican land grants, and that the same are not and have never been confirmed.” Upon this it is strongly insisted that no title passes until confirmation; that it may yet be adjudged that these lands are the property of the United States, and that until that question is definitely decided the lands are not subject to taxation. The cases relied upon are Colorado Company v. Commissioners, 95 U. S. 259; Botiller v. Dominguez, 130 U. S. 238, and Astiazaran v. Santa Rita Land & Mining Co., 148 U. S. 80. In the first of these cases a Mexican land grant, covering some five hundred thousand acres, was confirmed by Congress to the extent of eleven square leagues, with a proviso that there should be a survey of those leagues, and that the confirmation should not become legally effective until the claimant had paid the cost thereof; and it was held, following Railway Company v. Prescott, 16 Wall. 603, and
Opinion of the Court.
Railway Company v. McShane, 22 Wall. 444, that until the survey fees had been paid the United States retained such an interest in the land as to exempt it from taxation. In the second the decision was that no title to land in California depending upon Spanish or Mexican grants could be of any validity until submitted to and confirmed by the board provided for that purpose under the act of March 3, 1851, c. 41, 9 Stat. 631, but that decision was based upon g 13 of the act, which expressly provided that “all lands the claims to which shall not have been presented to the said commissioners within two years after the date of this act, shall be deemed, held and considered as part of the public domain of the United States.” In the last of these cases it was held that under the acts of July 22, 1954, c. 103, 10 Stat. 308, and July 15, 1870, C. 292, 16 Stat. 291, 304, a private claim to land in Arizona under a Mexican grant, which had been reported to Congress by the surveyor general of the Territory, could not, before Congress had acted on that report, be contested in the courts of justice. In other words, the validity of such claim could only be determined in the particular tribunal which had been provided for such purpose.
It must be borne in mind that in the record before us these land grants are not otherwise described than as Mexican land grants. For aught that appears, they may have been “perfect grants," as they are sometimes called ; that is, grants absolute and unconditional in form, specific in description of the land, passing a title from the Mexican government to the grantee as certain, definite and unconditional as a patent to a similar tract from the United States : and not "imperfect grants"; that is, grants of so many acres or leagues of land within large exterior boundaries, and based upon conditions precedent, and creating only an inchoate though equitable title to some as yet indefinite and undescribed tract. These perfect grants vest at least an equitable title in the owner. The general rule of international law is that a mere transfer of sovereignty over a territory has no effect upon vested rights of property therein; and whatever provision may be made in the treaty or by the law of the nation receiving the trans