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Statement of the Case.
court then made a general finding that all of the other warrants sued on were valid and subsisting legal claims against the county, and that plaintiff was entitled to recover upon each warrant the amount named therein, which, with interest, amounted to about the sum of fourteen thousand dollars, and for that sum judgment was directed to be entered, which was subsequently done. There was no further or special finding made by the trial court.
From this judgment an appeal was taken by the county to the Supreme Court of the Territory of Arizona, where it was affirmed.
The Supreme Court at the time of affirming the judgment made and signed by its Chief Justice a statement of facts in the case as follows:
"The Supreme Court takes the facts as found by the district court on the trial in that court and as shown by the record, and makes them the statement of the facts in this cause.
"This court finds that the district court did not commit error in finding against the plea of limitation set up by appellant.
"The court further finds that the district court did not commit error in granting and rendering judgment in favor of appellee on the warrants sued on and against appellant, notwithstanding the verified answer of appellant. The Supreme Court further finds that the district court did not commit error in refusing to render judgment for appellant on the verified answer of appellant, notwithstanding appellee did not introduce any evidence to establish the genuineness of said warrants for which appellee asked judgment, because the court finds that the warrants were verity of themselves, and the verified answer only put appellant in position in court to prove the facts set up in her answer, and did not put appellee on proof of their genuineness; hence the Supreme Court finds as a conclusion that the judgment of the district court should be affirmed. Judgment of affirmation and confirmation is therefore ordered and directed.
"This June 11th, 1898."
The county has appealed to this court from the judgment of the Supreme Court of the Territory.
Opinion of the Court.
Mr. J. F. Wilson for appellant.
Mr. Reuben Hatch for appellee.
MR. JUSTICE PECKHAM, after stating the facts, delivered the opinion of the court.
The statute approved April 7, 1874, c. 80, entitled "An act. concerning the practice in territorial courts, and appeals therefrom," 18 Stat. 27, by the second section provides :
"That the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of the United States over the judgments and decrees of said territorial courts in cases of trial by jury shall be exercised by writ of error, and in all other cases by appeal, according to such rules and regulations as to form and modes of proceeding as the said Supreme Court have prescribed, or may hereafter prescribe: Provided, That on appeal, instead of the evidence at large, a statement of the facts of the case in the nature of a special verdict, and also the rulings of the court on the admission or rejection of evidence, when excepted to, shall be made and certified by the court below, and transmitted to the Supreme Court, together with the transcript of the proceedings and judgment or decree," etc.
The legislature of the Territory passed an act March 18, 1897, No. 71 providing as follows:
"SEC. 1. Whenever an appeal or writ of error is taken from any district or circuit court of this Territory to the Supreme Court of the Territory the appellant or plaintiff in error, as the case may be, may have the testimony taken in the case transcribed and certified by the court reporter and file the same with the papers in the case, and thereupon it shall become and be a part of the record in such case.
"SEC. 5. All rulings made by the court below in opposition to the plaintiff in error or appellant shall be taken as excepted to by the party appealing or suing out the writ of error, and when assigned as error in the brief shall be reviewed by the Supreme Court without any bill of exceptions or other assignment of errors as herein provided."
Opinion of the Court.
This last act was passed subsequently to the trial of this action, but immediately after the filing of findings herein, and pursuant to its provisions, the reporter's notes of trial, with his certificate, were returned upon appeal, and are contained in this record.
This act could give us no jurisdiction to review an objection to evidence taken upon the trial, if no exception were taken, for the act of Congress of 1874, above cited, provides for a review in this court only when the decisions of the court were excepted to, and our jurisdiction is regulated by that act. Grayson v. Lynch, 163 U. S. 468, 474.
Upon a review of a judgment in a case not tried by jury and taken by appeal from the Supreme Court of a Territory, this court is by statute restricted to an inquiry, whether the findings of fact made by the court below support its judgment, and to a review of exceptions duly taken to rulings on admission or rejection of evidence. Grayson v. Lynch, 163 U. S. 468; Bear Lake &c. v. Garland, 164 U. S. 1, 18; Harrison v. Perea, 168 U. S. 311, 323; Young v. Amy, 171 U. S. 171, 183.
There is no bill of exceptions in the record, and there is nothing to show that any exception was taken on the trial to the admission or rejection of evidence. Counsel for appellee, therefore, urges that the only inquiry before this court is, whether the facts found by the trial court authorize the judgment which was entered, and he claims that upon those findings there can be no question that the judgment entered is right. This does not give the full and proper force to the additional finding of facts by the Supreme Court to which it is entitled. Although in that finding it is said that, "The Supreme Court takes the facts as found by the district court on the trial in that court, and as shown by the record, and makes them the statement of the facts in this cause," yet a perusal of the statement made by the Supreme Court renders it plain that such court found other facts in addition to those adopted from the district court, and those facts found by it should be regarded in the decision of this case.
What we regard as additional facts in the statement of the Supreme Court are regarded by counsel for the appellee as con
Opinion of the Court.
clusions of law only, and he contends that we are confined to the general findings of fact made by the district court and adopted by the Supreme Court, and that upon those facts the appellee is clearly entitled to judgment. We cannot acquiesce in the correctness of the claim so made.
The Supreme Court in its statement finds a conclusion of law, viz: That the court below did not err in granting judgment for appellee; and this conclusion is immediately followed by the declaration "notwithstanding the verified answer of the appellant," which latter is a statement of fact. In addition to the fact thus stated, and in continuation of its statement, the court "further finds that the district court did not commit error in refusing to render judgment for appellant on the verified answer of appellant, notwithstanding appellee did not introduce any evidence to establish the genuineness of said warrants for which appellee asked judgment, because the court finds that the warrants were verity of themselves, and the verified answer only put appellant in position in court to prove the facts set up in her answer and did not put appellee on proof of their genuineness; hence the Supreme Court finds as a conclusion that the judgment of the district court should be affirmed."
We do not think that all of this can be called a conclusion of law only and not a finding of any fact. It is too technical a treatment of this statement to limit the finding of facts wholly to those set forth in the finding of the district court.
If we were not, in this particular, limited to the findings of the court, and could look at the notes of the stenographer taken on the trial and attached to the record by virtue of the territorial act referred to, we should there find that defendant was granted leave to verify its answer before the plaintiff rested her case, and that the answer was then verified and the plaintiff given opportunity to put in such evidence as she chose after such verification was made and before she closed her case. She did not avail herself of the leave, and the case rests only upon the production of the warrants, with the words indorsed thereon: "Not paid for want of funds; Presented Dec. 31, 1884. D. Baca, Treasurer, A. Ruiz, Deputy. Sol. Barth;" also the word "Forgery" marked in red ink across the faces of the warrants.
Opinion of the Court.
No proof whatever was given as to the genuineness of these signatures.
The finding of the Supreme Court shows that its decision was not placed upon the ground that the answer was verified after the plaintiff had rested; nor was its finding put on any ground of waiver. We must, therefore, take the fact that the answer was verified in ample time to call upon the plaintiff to prove the affirmative of the issues presented by the pleading.
Coming to an examination of the case in the light of these facts, we see that this was an action brought upon certain county warrants fully described in the amended complaint, and it was therein alleged that they were issued under the direction and authority of the board of supervisors of the county, signed by the chairman, and countersigned by the clerk of the board. The answer denied the fact that the warrants were issued by the authority or direction of the board, and alleged that they were forged warrants, and that the county was not liable thereon. Irrespective of any statute in regard to pleading, an issue was thus joined which raised the question of the genuineness of the signatures subscribed to these warrants; in other words, the question of their execution was put in issue, which would make it necessary for the plaintiff to prove that fact before they could be admitted in evidence. We are aware of no exception to this rule which would permit the introduction of alleged county warrants such as these, without any proof whatever of their execution. They do not prove themselves. The mere production of a piece of paper upon which is written or printed a promise to pay upor the part of a county, and upon which certain signatures ap pear, without the slightest proof of the genuineness of such signatures, does not entitle such paper to be admitted in evi dence.
It is stated that it has been held by the courts generally that county and state warrants, signed by the proper officers, are prima facie binding and legal; that those officers will be presumed to have done their duty, and that such warrants make a prima facie cause of action, and that impeachment must come from the defendant. 1 Dillon's Municipal Corporations, 3d ed.