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Maricopa County v. Douglas

Supreme Court of Arizona

July 18, 1949

MARICOPA COUNTY
v.
DOUGLAS et al

Appeal from Superior Court, Maricopa County; M. T. Phelps, Judge.

Judgment reversed and remanded with instructions to enter judgment for plaintiff in conformity with opinion.

Francis J. Donofrio, County Atty., Warren L. McCarthy, Deputy County Atty., Phoenix, for appellant.

Leslie C. Hardy, Phoenix, for appellees.

Charlie W. Clark and John Henley Eversole, Phoenix, amici curiae.

DeConcini, Justice. LaPrade, C. J., Udall, J., and Dudley Windes, Superior Judge, concurring. Stanford, J., not participating due to illness.Note: Justice PHELPS having disqualified himself, Superior Court Judge DUDLEY WINDES, of Maricopa County, was called to sit in his stead.

OPINION

DeConcini, Justice.

Page 647

[69 Ariz. 37] Maricopa County, appellant, a body politic, brought suit against defendant Judie Douglas and L. E. Douglas, her husband, appellees, for return of the sum of $ 1,825 paid to Mrs. Orpha Giles, mother of Judie Douglas, for old-age assistance under the Public Welfare law. The case was tried on an agreed statement of facts, and in open court at the time of argument of this case counsel stipulated one change. The facts are briefly as follows.

[69 Ariz. 38] Mrs. Orpha Giles, mother of Judie Douglas, one of the appellees, was eligible for old-age assistance, and received from the Maricopa County Board of Social Security & Welfare, hereinafter referred to as the Board, old-age assistance from April 1, 1941, to December 1, 1945, the sum of $ 1,825. Mrs. Giles has continuously resided with her daughter and son-in-law since before 1941. During 1941 through 1945, inclusive, appellees filed both federal and state separate income tax returns, each of which reported an income in excess of $ 3,000 annually. Said income was community property and taxes thereon were paid out of community funds. Judie Douglas owned no separate property during those years, but had sufficient community property to support her mother Mrs. Giles. Property owned by appellees consists solely of community property. During the years 1941 to 1946, inclusive, appellees paid ad valorem taxes from community funds in the amount of $ 11,546, and luxury and privilege taxes in addition thereto. The said taxes were apportioned and distributed in part to the Old-Age Assistance Fund and to the credit of the State Board of Social Security and Welfare to be used in extending assistance to qualified aged persons and to the needy blind.

Before instituting this action the board demanded that Judie Douglas repay to appellant the sum of $ 1,825 received by Mrs. Orpha Giles for old-age assistance. Upon her refusal this suit was brought. Judgment was rendered for defendants on the ground that the law was unconstitutional because of its being vague, indefinite and uncertain, from which plaintiff appeals.

Appellees raise on appeal other reasons for judgment in their behalf besides the one found in the judgment of the lower court.

We shall treat appellant's assignment of error first. The title and pertinent sections involved here are recited below. (Laws of Regular Session 1941, now Sec. 70-214a, A.C.A.1939, Supp., later repealed as hereinafter mentioned.)

"Chapter 32

(House Bill No. 31)

"An Act

"Relating to Old Age Assistance: Increasing the Amount of Assistance to be Paid and Amending Section 70-205, Arizona Code of 1939; Establishing Relatives'

Page 648

Responsibility, and Declaring an Emergency.

"Be it Enacted by the Legislature of the State ...


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