Raymond's Lessee v. Longworth
THIS case was brought up, by writ of error, from the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Ohio.
It was an ejectment, brought by Raymond, for the following property, viz.:-All that certain tract of land in the western part of Cincinnati, commencing thirty feet north of Nicholas Longworth's individual property, on the west side of Mill Creek road, thence north, on the line of said road, five hundred feet, and extending back, the same width, at right angles with said road, four hundred feet.
The facts are set forth in the opinion of the court.
It was argued by Mr. Chase, for the plaintiff in error, and submitted, on printed argument, by Mr. Stanberry, for the defendant in error.
The bill of exceptions brought up other points besides the one upon which the judgment of this court rested; but it is not necessary to notice them.
The following authorities were cited by Mr. Stanberry, in support of the ruling of the Circuit Court.
The entire record having been admitted in evidence, the defendant requested the court to instruct the jury, 'that the description of the lot upon the duplicate, as appears by the abstract aforesaid,' (Exhibit D,) 'was not a pertinent description of the lot, such as the statute required; and, therefore, that the forfeiture to the State of Ohio was illegal and void, and the subsequent sale, by the auditor of Hamilton county, to Charles Phelps, was also void.'
This instruction, as prayed by the defendant, was given by the court; and the plaintiff excepted to this opinion of the court also.
On the validity of this exception turns the principal question in the case.
In behalf of the defendant, and in support of the ruling of the court on this point, we deem it unnecessary to do more than point out the utter want of certainty in the description of the land, as contained upon the duplicate for taxation, and in the advertisements for sale and returns, as exhibited throughout the abstract from the record (Exhibit D, aforesaid); and, having done so, refer the court to the uniform course of decision in Ohio upon the subject,-invariably holding such descriptions invalid, and forfeitures and sales under them void. Indeed, all this is fully and sufficiently done in the circuit report of the present case. 4 McLean's Rep. 481; and in the case of Miner's Lessee v. McLean's Assignee, 4 McLean's Rep. 138.
We shall, therefore, only briefly state, that the description of the lands, as shown by this record, upon the duplicate of taxes, and in the various returns and advertisements, is thus throughout:
'Cooper, James, 5 acres, S. 24, T. 4, fr. R. 1, Cincinnati. Value $830. Amount due, $_____.'
This is to be read substantially thus:-'Five acres in section 24, fractional range 1, Cincinnati, valued at 830 dollars,' &c.
The uncertainty of description, which renders the title void, consists in its being wholly impossible to know in what part of the section this particular lot of five acres is located. Entire sections contain 640 acres, and these five acres, so far as appears, may as readily be in one part as another.
Such descriptions have been holden void by the Supreme Court of Ohio, in the following cases; Lessee of Massie's Heirs v. Long et al., 2 O. R. 887; Lessee of Treon v. Emerick, 6 O. R. 391; Lessee of Laferty v. Byers, 5 O. R. 458. See also, 15 O. R. 134; 16 O. R. 24.
Mr. Justice CATRON delivered the opinion of the court.