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    GALLUP v. SCHMIDT, 183 U.S. 300 (1902)

    U.S. Supreme Court

    GALLUP v. SCHMIDT, 183 U.S. 300 (1902)

    183 U.S. 300

    EDWARD P. GALLUP, Executor of William P. Gallup, Deceased, Plff. in Err.,
    WILLIAM H. SCHMIDT, Treasurer of Marion County, Indiana.
    No. 100.

    Argued October 31, November 1, 1901.
    Decided January 6, 1902.

    This is a writ of error to a judgment of the circuit court of Marion county, state of Indiana, entered in pursuance of a final judgment of the supreme court of that state, in a case wherein Edward P. Gallup, executor of William P. Gallup, deceased, was plaintiff in error, and William H. Schmidt, treasurer of said Marion county, was defendant in error.

    The main facts in the case were thus stated in the opinion of the supreme court (154 Ind. 196, 56 N. E. 443):

    Appeals were taken by both parties from the decree of the circuit court of Marion county to the supreme court of the state. That court was of opinion that the executor, as appellant, was not entitled to a reversal, but that, for error of the circuit court in allowing the executor a certain credit of $5,750 upon the amount recovered, the judgment must be reversed with instructions to restate conclusions of law in accordance with the opinion of the supreme court, and render judgment thereon in favor of the treasurer for the sum of $52,746.69, with interest from October 31, 1898; and final judgment for said amount was accordingly so entered by the circuit court of [183 U.S. 300, 303]   Marion county, to which judgment a writ of error was allowed, and the cause brought to this court.

    Messrs. W. H. H. Miller, Wayne MacVeagh, John B. Elam, James W. Fesler, and Samuel D. Miller for plaintiff in error.

    Messrs. William L. Taylor, William A. Ketcham, Martin M. Hugg, Frederick A. Joss, Merrill Moores, and Cassius C. Hadley for defendant in error.

    Mr. Justice Shiras delivered the opinion of the court:

    To answer the questions presented to us in this record requires an examination of two sections of the Indiana Revised Statutes, which read as follows:

    Having alleged that he was and during all of his life had been a citizen of the United States, and that at no time during the year 1894 or since has he resided in Marion county, Indiana, but that during said year and ever since he has continually been and still was a resident and citizen of Lebanon, in the state of New Hampshire, Edward P. Gallup claimed, in the courts below, that in 8560, providing for the assessment of omitted property by the county auditor, no provision whatever is made for notice to any person not a resident of the county in which said omitted property is proposed to be as- [183 U.S. 300, 305]   sessed, but that the sole provision for such notice is to person or persons resident of such county, and that by reason of the premises said statute is in violation of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, in that said statute deprived him of his property without due process of law; denied to him the equal protection of the laws; also denies to him, as a citizen of New Hampshire, the privileges and immunities enjoyed by a citizen of Marion county, Indiana, contrary to the 2d section of article 4 of the Constitution of the United States; and that said statute is further invalid in that it grants to a class of citizens, namely, residents of the particular county in which the property sought to be assessed is situate, privileges and immunities which, upon the same terms, do not equally belong to all citizens.

    This arraignment of the statute is based on the fact that Edward P. Gallup, though acting as executor of William P. Gallup, deceased, in the county of Marion, Indiana, was, at the time he was served with the auditor's notice, not a resident of that county, but was a resident of the state of New Hampshire; and the contention is that, though he received such a notice, yet he was not within the letter of the statute because not a resident of the county in which the property was situated, and therefore the notice actually given him was not a notice in point of law, and the auditor, in proceeding with the duties of his office, acted without jurisdiction, and that consequently the plaintiff in error has been deprived of his property without due process of law.

    The Supreme Court of Indiana disposed of this contention by holding 'that appellant [Edward P. Gallup] was an official resident of Marion county at the time the proceeding by the auditor was commenced, and therefore within the express terms of the section.'

    This construction of the section is criticized by the learned counsel of the plaintiff in error as novel, and unsupported by authority. However this may be, it is a construction or application of the statute to the case in hand, and is binding upon us.

    It is strongly urged that whether the view of the Indiana supreme court be sound or not, in interpreting the section to [183 U.S. 300, 306]   cover the case of an official residence, the result is to deprive the plaintiff in error of rights and privileges secured to him by the Constitution of the United States; and numerous cases are cited to the effect that assessments and special burdens upon taxpayers are void unless the law provides for notice, and that notice in fact is not equivalent to notice in law. It is claimed that the plaintiff in error has been afforded no opportunity to be heard, and that because the section provides for notice to residents of the county, and for no notice whatever to nonresidents of the state and county, a case of discriminative legislation is created whereby nonresidents are denied the equal protection of the laws.

    To these suggestions the supreme court of Indiana replied by saying:

    It has frequently been held by this court, when asked to review tax proceedings in state courts, that due process of law is afforded litigants if they have an opportunity to question the validity or the amount of an assessment or charge before the amount is determined, or at any subsequent proceedings to enforce its collection, or at any time before final judgment is entered. Walker v. Sauvinet, 92 U.S. 90 , 23 L. ed. 678; Davidson v. New Orleans, 96 U.S. 97 , 24 L. ed. 616; Spencer v. Merchant, 125 U.S. 345 , 31 L. ed. 763, 8 Sup. Ct. Rep. 921; Allen v. Georgia, 166 U.S. 138 , 41 L. ed. 949, 17 Sup. Ct. Rep. 525; Orr v. Gilman, 183 U.S. 278 , post, 213, 22 Sup. Ct. Rep. 213.

    In the present case the plaintiff in error not only had an opportunity to appear and to set up any defense that he may have had, but actually did appear, and, after his demurrers and motion to dismiss had been overruled, answered, and was fully heard in the trial court. His objections to the findings and rulings of that court have been heard and considered by the supreme court of the state.

    The method followed by the auditor in assessing the additional taxes was perhaps open to criticism, but was approved by the circuit and supreme courts, and presents no question over which we have jurisdiction.

    Failing to see that any rights or privileges secured to the plaintiff in error by the Constitution of the United States have been denied him, we are of opinion that the judgment of the Supreme Court of Indiana must be affirmed.

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