Open main menu

United States Supreme Court

62 U.S. 331

Mary Ann Thomas  v.  Eliza Lawson et al.

Writ of Error from the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Arkansas

Court Documents


Where a deed was objected to in the Circuit Court on the ground of fraud, but no specific grounds of objection were made, this court cannot inquire into the correctness or incorrectness of the objection.

[p332] By the laws of Arkansas, and decisions of its courts, a sheriff's deed of land sold for the non-payment of taxes is made evidence of the regularity and legality of the sale, and the burden of proof of irregularity is cast upon the assailant of the tax title.

The cases upon this point examined.

The law also allows the purchaser of a tax title to file a petition on the chancery side of the State court, whose judgmient, or decree, confirming the sale, shall operate as a bar against all persons who.may claim the land in consequence of informality or illegality in the proceedings which led to the sale.

A record of such a decree, when produced in the Circuit Court, was conclusive evidence of the title of the purchaser at the sheriff's sale.

THIS case was brought up by writ of error from the Circuit Court of the United States for the eastern district of Arkansas.

The facts of the case are stated in the opinion of the court.

It was submitted on printed arguments by Mr. Fowler for the plaintiff in error, and Mr. Watkins for the defendant.

The counsel for the plaintiff in error laid down the following propositions:

1. The general objection, applicable to all collectors' deeds, upon general principles, in the absence of any statute making them per se evidence of title, or evidence at all, unless all the material previous steps and acts required by the laws providing for the assessment and collection of taxes, and sale of lands for the non-payment thereof, &c., make it utterly inadmissible. Upon the different branches of this proposition, viz: that the land must be shown to have been listed or assessed and taxed, and advertised and sold according to law, and that the collector had authority to sell, the counsel cited forty-two authorities, amongst which were 11 Howard, 425; 18 Howard, 142; 16 Howard, 618.

The act of March 5, 1838, made such deeds evidence, but was restricted to sales made under that act, whereas this deed purports to have been made under a sale in 1824.

2. Said deed ought to have been rejected, because, by its details, the said tract of land appears to have been assessed, taxed, and sold, for the year 1824, when the tract of land was [p333] not taxable for that year; hence the whole proceeding was illegal and void.

With respect to the decree of the court, confirming the sale, the counsel contended that it was a nullity on account of irregularity in its proceedings.

The counsel for the defendant in error contended for the validity of the deed, both before and after the passage of the act of 1838, the land being held by the original purchaser under a certificate of purchase, and referred to the case of Pillow v. Roberts, 13 Howard, 476, and 15 Arkansas Rep., 339; that the land was subject to taxation in 1824; that the act of limitation applied, which commenced to run from the date of the sale, and not from the date of the execution of the collector's deed; and that the decree of confirmation conclusively settled the case.

Mr. Justice DANIEL delivered the opinion of the court.


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).