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Cannon v. Arizona Game & Fish Commission ex rel. Attorney General

Supreme Court of Arizona

October 15, 1958

Joseph D. CANNON, Appellant,
v.
ARIZONA GAME & FISH COMMISSION ex rel. The ATTORNEY GENERAL for the State et al., Appellees.

[85 Ariz. 2] Albert M. Garcia, Yuma, for appellant.

Robert Morrison, Atty. Gen., Frederick E. Kallof, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellees.

PHELPS, Justice.

This is an appeal by Joseph D. Cannon, who will hereinafter be referred to as defendant, from an order and judgment of the superior court of Yuma

Page 502

county adjudging him guilty of contempt of court and assessing punishment therefor.

The facts and circumstances leading up to the judgment for contempt of court are that an action in forcible entry and detainer was filed in the superior court of Yuma county by the Arizona Game & Fish Commission ex rel. The Attorney General for the State of Arizona, and M. E. Smiley Farms, Inc., an Arizona corporation, against defendant Joseph D. Cannon (and others who are not herein involved) seeking possession of certain real property described therein located along the Arizona side of the Colorado river which [85 Ariz. 3] the complaint alleged was in the possession of M. E. Smiley Farms, Inc., and Arizona Game & Fish Commission under leases originally from the State of Arizona. The complaint further alleged that said premises had been forcibly entered by said defendants by cutting and removing a fence belonging to said Game & Fish Commission, and that said defendants were then and there occupying said premises and operating heavy machinery and equipment thereupon, excavating and removing natural growth therefrom, all of which was done without the consent of plaintiffs and obstructing plaintiffs possession thereof.

Defendants in their answer denied the validity of plaintiffs' lease and alleged that said premises do not lie within the boundary of the State of Arizona and, therefore, the Arizona court was without jurisdiction to try said case. They then alleged that the lands were unsurveyed; that the boundary line between Arizona and California is yet undertermined and that the premises involved are not subject to the possessory interest claimed by plaintiffs.

The cause was tried to the court sitting without a jury and judgment was rendered and entered of record adjudging defendants guilty of forcible entry and detainer and ordered that a writ of restitution issue. A writ of restitution issued commanding the sheriff to forthwith remove defendants from said premises and deliver possession thereof to plaintiffs. Return thereto was made by the sheriff of Yuma county showing a delivery of possession of said premises to plaintiffs. No appeal was taken from said judgment.

Thereafter, the attention of the court was called to the fact by affidavit of Ora A. Cypert, a sublessee of Arizona Game & Fish Commission, that defendant and his servants after delivering the possession of said premises to plaintiff in accordance with the writ of restitution, had returned and entered upon said premises and were then and there holding, using and occupying the same in callous disrespect of the orders, judgment and processes of the court, and in contempt of said court.

The court thereupon issued its order requiring defendant Joseph D. Cannon to appear before the court and show cause if any he had, why he should not be punished for contempt of court. Incorporated therein was an order for an alias writ of restitution. The defendant not having been served, a second order to show cause and order for an alias writ of restitution was issued requiring defendant to later appear before the court and show cause why he should not be punished for contempt of court.

Defendant's response to the court's last order to show cause alleges that since he was dispossessed of the lands in question he had acquired a lease to lands claimed by [85 Ariz. 4] plaintiffs which gave him a right to possession superior to that claimed by plaintiffs, and that in addition thereto, one of the plaintiffs had given him written permission to enter upon said premises to survey the same and that it was not his intention to show a callous disrespect for the court and its orders.

The hearing on the order to show cause was finally heard. Defendant requested findings of fact and conclusions of law and at the conclusion of the hearing the court found that after surrendering said premises to plaintiffs defendant again reentered said premises intentionally violating

Page 503

the order of the court, and adjudged him guilty of contempt of court.

The court, thereupon, sentenced defendant to imprisonment in the county jail for fifteen days forthwith and to pay a fine of $500, said fine to be paid to the clerk of the court and by said clerk payable to the Arizona State Fish & Game Department, and on default in the payment of said fine the defendant was ordered committed to the Yuma county jail to serve an additional one hundred days or until said fine was satisfied at the ratio of one day for each $5 of the fine unpaid, said jail sentence to run consecutively. The court ...


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