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Hallas v. Evans

Supreme Court of Arizona

April 11, 1949

HALLAS
v.
EVANS

Opinion Modified on Rehearing August 22, 1949. See 208 P.2d 1153.

Appeal from Superior Court, Maricopa County; Thomas J. Croaff, Judge.

Suit to quiet title by Ruth L. Hallas against Narcis Evans, wherein defendant cross-complained. From an adverse judgment, plaintiff appeals.

Judgment reversed and cause remanded.

V. L. Hash, of Phoenix, for appellant.

Cox, Lockwood & Lockwood, of Phoenix, for appellee.

Kelly, Superior Judge. Udall, Stanford and De Concini, JJ., concur. Due to illness, the Chief Justice did not participate in determining this appeal. Justice Phelps announced his disqualification.

OPINION

Kelly, Superior Judge.

[69 Ariz. 15] For the second time the subject matter of the litigation between these parties has come before this court. The earlier case has been reported in 64 Ariz. 142, 167 P.2d 94, and reference is made thereto for such of the facts as are not mentioned herein. In the prior appeal two subjects were presented and passed upon -- one procedural, which is of no present concern, and one as to whether the offered pleading presented

Page 986

a justiciable question under the form of the action before the court. Upon this latter point it may be noted that the tendered defense was not before the court on the merits, but only the pleading and its sufficiency under the law to state a defense to the action of plaintiff to quiet title to the land bought by her at tax sale after the state by its tax processes had acquired at least a complete paper title to it. In the earlier decision here the cause was remanded for trial, the opinion being, so far as it is applicable, the law of the case. The question now, after trial upon the merits, is in its essence one as to whether the facts [69 Ariz. 16] as disclosed are adequate to support the judgment, and whether the procedures at the trial were free from errors prejudicially affecting appellant's rights.

Plaintiff at public sale by the Board of Supervisors of tax deeded properties became the purchaser of Lot 12 of the Ward Tract of the City of Phoenix. She soon after brought this suit to establish her title against various parties who might claim adversely to her and among them this defendant was one. It may here be said that no controversy has arisen, with the single vital exception about which these proceedings revolve as set forth fully in the earlier opinion and now referred to in outline as may be necessary for clarity, as to the technical correctness of all of the proceedings of the taxing officers culminating in the sale. The lack of complaint of the steps taken in those proceedings, the tacit concessions to this effect in the pleadings and trial of this cause, together with the corresponding legal presumptions all join in supporting the correctness of this premise of regularity.

The tax sale was for the taxes of the year 1931, last half unpaid, and for the taxes of the years 1932-35, inclusive. The ultimate question presented by this litigation is whether under the peculiar circumstances of this case the assessment for taxes was lawful and the tax sale pursuant to it led into a title which can stand against the equities of the defendant's defense against it.

Defendant and her husband, then in life, had purchased three lots, Nos. 12, 21, and 22, of the Ward Tract at some time prior to 1930, and received deeds to all of the lots, separately executed by the husband and wife who were grantors, one dated in 1926 and one dated in 1930. The husband of defendant died on February 10, 1931. Defendant completed the purchase price payments, and in August of 1931 the deeds were recorded. The want of technical perfection in defendant's title is not considered as material here, for such as it was it sufficed to support her claim. Lot 21 was subsequently conveyed to others, ...


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