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BEADLES v. SMYSER

April 6, 1908

BEADLES
v.
SMYSER, MAYOR OF THE CITY OF PERRY, OKLAHOMA



ERROR TO AND APPEAL FROM THE SUPREME COURT OF THE TERRITORY OF OKLAHOMA

Fuller, Harlan, Brewer, White, Peckham, McKenna, Holmes, Day, Moody

Author: Day

[ 209 U.S. Page 396]

 MR. JUSTICE DAY delivered the opinion of the court.

This is a proceeding to review the judgment of the Supreme Court of the Territory of Oklahoma, affirming the judgment of the District Court of Noble County in that Territory, denying a peremptory writ of mandamus to the plaintiff in error, also plaintiff below, seeking to compel the recognition of certain judgments and the levy of taxes by the city officers of the city of Perry, a city of the first class, in Noble County. The action was begun March 12, 1906, in the District Court upon a petition, which set forth the ownership in the plaintiff of judgments against the city of Perry, rendered, with two exceptions, in the year 1898; the other two rendered in January and March, 1899, and aggregating the sum of $16,304.51, including interest and costs.

The petition avers that these judgments were rendered on warrants issued by the city of Perry upon the general fund of the city; that no funds having been provided for the payment of plaintiff's and certain other judgments, on December 3, 1901, the judgment creditors of the city entered into an

[ 209 U.S. Page 397]

     agreement with the city treasurer of the city by signing a certain paper writing, to wit:

"I, the undersigned, judgment creditor, holding judgment against the city of Perry, Noble County, Oklahoma Territory, hereby ask that the city treasurer pay all judgments against the city of Perry in order of rendition, hereby waiving right to payment pro rata, if such right exists, and this waiver shall apply to all grantees and assigns. Said judgments are in amounts and dates as follows:" [Here follows a list of the judgments.]

At that time the outstanding unpaid judgment indebtedness of the city of Perry amounted to $22,000, all of the owners of which, excepting the sum of $4,000, signed the agreement; that the waivers thus signed were presented to the city council of the city, which adopted the following resolution:

"Whereas, the judgment creditors holding judgments against the city of Perry have practically all signed written waivers of the right, if such right exists, to payment of said judgments pro rata, and therein consent to the payment of said judgments in the order of their rendition against said city:

"Therefore, be it resolved, That the city treasurer is hereby authorized and directed to pay the said judgments existing against the city of Perry in the order of their rendition out of the funds now on hand and as they shall accrue in the judgment fund."

That thereafter the city treasurer followed the plan thus outlined of paying judgments up to the early part of the year 1905, and the judgments prior to those sued upon by the plaintiff were paid off in that way. And it is averred that under the laws of the Territory of Oklahoma a judgment fund must be created to satisfy a judgment against a municipality, and a judgment of that kind can be paid in no other way. And that under the laws of Oklahoma no execution can be levied upon a judgment against the municipality, and that during the time since the rendition of the judgments the city of Perry

[ 209 U.S. Page 398]

     has had no property subject to levy upon execution, and that the judgments of the plaintiff could not have been paid, and taxes levied for that purpose, because there had not been sufficient money in the judgment fund of the city of Perry to pay the judgments or any part thereof. That under the agreement of December 3, 1901, payments of judgments against the city have been made, but in the order of rendition the fund has been paid upon judgments prior to the plaintiffs. That under the law of the Territory, during the life of the said judgments, at least since the year 1899, it has been the duty of the city of Perry to levy annually a tax not to exceed five mills on the dollar on all the property of the said city, to create a judgment fund, and that said city has made said levy annually, and paid judgments down to the early part of 1905, since which time the city treasurer of the city of Perry, under the direction of the mayor and city council, has declined to pay the plaintiff's judgments or any proportion of the same, and that there has accumulated in the hands of the city treasurer $2,286.96, the judgment fund of said city. And that at all times down to the beginning of the year 1905 the city of Perry has recognized the binding force and validity of said judgments; that the mayor and council and treasurer of said city decline and refuse to recognize the validity of the plaintiff's judgments or pay any part thereof, and deny any liability thereon, solely on the ground that the same have become dormant and barred by the statute of limitations of the Territory of Oklahoma. And other averments are made as to the inability of the plaintiff to otherwise collect ...


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