Turner v. New York (168 U.S. 90)
This was an action of replevin, brought April 11, 1887, in behalf of the state of New York, by the forest commissioners of the state, against Turner, in the supreme court of the county of Franklin, and state of New York, to recover a quantity of logs cut by him upon lands in that county, and within the forest preserve of the state, between September 1, 1886, and March 25, 1887. The answer denied the allegations of the complaint, and alleged that at the time mentioned therein the defendant was the owner and in possession of the lands.
The material facts of the case, as found by a referee, were as follows: On October 12, 1877, the lands, being then owned by one Norton, were sold by the comptroller of the state of New York for unpaid taxes of the years from 1866 to 1870, inclusive, and were bid in by the comptroller in behalf of the state, and conveyed by him to the state by deed dated June 9, 1881, and recorded June 8, 1882. The defendant, more than nine years after that sale, acquired Norton's title in the land. The land was wild forest land, uncultivated, unimproved, uninclosed, and with no dwelling house or other building thereon. Neither the state nor any officer thereof ever took actual possession of the land; and no part of it was in occupancy of any person on October 12, 1879, when the period of two years allowed by law for redemption from the comptroller's sale expired.
At the trial before the referee, the defendant, in order to prove the invalidity of the comptroller's deed by reason of illegality in the assessment sessment of the taxes for the years 1867 and 1870, offered to show that the oath of the assessors sessors to the assessment roll of 1867 was taken on August 10th, instead of on the third Tuesday of August, and that the assessors omitted to meet on the third Tuesday of August, 1870, to review their assessments for that year.
The plaintiff objected to the evidence as immaterial, because the comptroller's deed was made conclusive evidence of those matters by the statute of New York of 1885 (chapter 448), which is copied in the margin.  The defendant contended that this statute was invalid, as contrary to the first section of the fourteenth article of amendment to the constitution of the United States. But the referee sustained the plaintiff's objection to the evidence, and directed judgment for the plaintiff, which was accordingly rendered by the court, and affirmed by the court of appeals. 145 N. Y. 451, 40 N. E. 400. The defendant sued out this writ of error.
Frank E. Smith, for plaintiff in error.
T. E. Hancock and Wm. Henry Dennis, for the People of the State of New York.
Mr. Justice GRAY, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court.
^1 An act to amend chapter four hundred and twenty-seven of the Laws of Eighteen Hundred and Fifty-Five, entitled 'An act in relation to the collection of taxes on lands of non-residents and to provide for the sale of such lands for unpaid taxes.'
Section 1. Section sixty-five of chapter four hundred and twenty-seven of the Laws of Eighteen Hundred and Fifty-Five, entitled 'An act in relation to the collection of taxes on lands of non-residents and to provide for the sale of such lands for unpaid taxes,' is hereby amended so as to read as follows:
Sec. 65. Such conveyances shall be executed by the comptroller, under his hand and seal, and the execution thereof shall be witnessed by the treasurer or deputy comptroller; and all such conveyances that have been heretofore executed by the comptroller, and all conveyances of the same lands by his grantee or grantees therein named, after having been recorded for two years in the office of the clerk of the county in which the lands conveyed thereby are located, and all outstanding certificates of a tax sale heretofore held by the comptroller that shall have remained in force for two years after the last day allowed by law to redeem from such sale shall, six months after this act takes effect, be conclusive evidence that the sale and all proceedings prior thereto, from and including the assessment of the land, and all notices required by law to be given previous to the expiration of the two years allowed by law to redeem, were regular and were regularly given, published and served according to the provisions of this act, and all laws directing or requiring the same or in any manner relating thereto; and all other conveyances or certificates heretofore or hereafter executed or issued by the comptroller, shall be presumptive evidence of the regularity or all the said proceedings and matters hereinbefore recited, and shall be conclusive evidence thereof from and after the expiration of
two years from the date of recording such other conveyances, or of four years from and after the date of issuing such other certificates. But all such conveyances and certificates and the taxes and tax sales on which they are based shall be subject to cancellation, as now provided by law, on a direct application to the comptroller, or an action brought before a competent court therefor, by reason of the legal payment of such taxes, or by reason of the levying of such taxes by a town or ward having no legal right to assess the land on which they are laid.
Sec. 2. The provisions of this act are hereby made applicable only to the following counties, viz., Clinton, Delaware, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Hamilton, Herkimer, Lewis, Saratoga, St. Lawrence, Sullivan, Ulster, Warren and Washington, but shall not affect any action, proceeding or application pending at the time of its passage; nor any action that shall be begun, proceeding taken or application duly made within six months thereafter for the purpose of vacating any tax sale or any conveyance or certificate of sale made thereunder.
Sec. 3. This act shall take effect immediately.
|This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).|