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In re Application of Irrigation

Supreme Court of Arizona

February 24, 1931

In the Matter of the Application of the VERDE RIVER IRRIGATION AND POWER DISTRICT for a Determination as to the Validity of the First Series of Bonds of Said District. ALEX S. CAMPBELL, Appellant,
v.
L. B. HITCHCOCK, J. D. BOWERS and HOMER C. LUDDEN, Appellees

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of the County of Maricopa. Thomas J. Prescott, Judge. Judgment affirmed.

Mr. Edward J. Flanigan and Mr. C. A. McKee, for Appellant.

Mr. L. M. Laney, for Appellees.

OPINION

Page 805

[37 Ariz. 581] LOCKWOOD, J.

This is an action brought under the provisions of section 3405, Revised Code of Arizona, 1928, for the purpose of determining the validity of certain bonds issued by the Verde irrigation and power district. Judgment was rendered in the superior court of Maricopa county declaring the bonds in all respects valid obligations of the district, and the matter has been brought before us for review. The suit is one of the type frequently appearing in this court of late years, where all the nominal parties are anxious that the bonds should be declared valid. [37 Ariz. 582] The usual process is that the proceedings are carefully examined by the attorneys for the parties, and by agreement counsel collaborate for the purpose of presenting to the court every question they think might be raised by a future intending purchaser of the bonds.

The petition herein set up the various proceedings had by the district relative to its organization, and the authorization of the bonds in question. The nominal appellant, who was a land holder and elector in the district, filed a demurrer thereto, and the court proceeded to hear the matter upon both the law and the facts. It is stipulated by counsel that the petition correctly alleges, for the most part in their chronological order, the various steps taken in the organization of the district and the authorization of the bond issue.

There are some eight assignments of error, and we shall consider the various questions of law raised thereby in their order. The first is that the court was without jurisdiction to adjudicate and define the boundaries of the district, and the lands therein to be subject to the costs and burdens of the proposed bond issue. The authority to maintain this suit is found in section 3405, supra. The language of that section, so far as it refers to the question under discussion, reads as follows:

"Such judgment may determine the legality and validity of, and approve and confirm, each and all of the proceedings, of the organization of said district under the provisions of said article, from and including the petition for the organization of the district, and all other proceedings which may affect the legality and validity of said bonds. The court, in inquiring into the regularity, legality or correctness of said proceedings, must disregard any error, irregularity or omission which does not affect the substantial rights of the parties."

[37 Ariz. 583] This is a special and limited proceeding, and the jurisdiction of the court therein is no broader than the statute which created the proceeding. We are of the opinion that under the language of the section the court is authorized to pass upon any question which may affect the legality and validity of the bonds. If it be necessary in order to determine

Page 806

their validity that the court define the boundaries of the district, this may be done. If, on the other hand, it is not necessary, the court is without jurisdiction to make such definition. Is it necessary, therefore, in order that the validity of the bonds be determined, that the court should decide just what the area of the district is now, or was at any particular time?

We are of the opinion it is necessary, so far as the land included in the district at the time of the election is concerned. Since the right to vote upon bonds in a district of this nature depends, among other things, upon whether the voter is the owner of lands within the district, we think it was necessary for the court to determine its boundaries and what land was included therein. It therefore had jurisdiction to make such determination.

The first proceedings for the organization of the district were in January, 1918, when a petition was filed with the board of supervisors of Maricopa county, Arizona, under the provisions of chapter 8, 2d Special Session Laws of Arizona 1915. The subsequent proceedings were regular in all respects, and the district was finally legally organized with certain definite lands included therein, under the name of the "Paradise Verde Irrigation District." Thereafter, and in April, 1922, the board of directors of the district caused a new survey for its main canal to be made along a line some distance north of the line as originally surveyed. Shortly prior to August 25th of that year several claimants to land lying between those survey lines filed with the board of directors [37 Ariz. 584] a number of petitions similarly worded, requesting that the land described therein be included within the boundaries of the district. Each petition was for individual lands, and not for the inclusion of the entire area of the so-called "north strip" as a unit. Together they were signed by the claimants to some 3,900 acres of land, only 168 acres of which was then patented. The board of ...


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