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JUNE TERM, A. D. 1882.


A judgment agaifist a county, recovered upon county warrants, establishes the liability of the county, and that the indebtedness was created for county purposes. It is, therefore, the duty of the County Commissioners to provide for the payment of the judg ment by levying a tax upon the taxable property in the county; and it appearing by the return of the County Commissioners to an alternative writ of mandamus, that they are authorized to raise by tax for county purposes a sum sufficient to pay the judgment, a peremptory writ is awarded directing, them to do so.

This is a case of original jurisdiction in the Supreme Court. The facts of the case are sufficiently stated in the opinion.

Geo. P. Raney for the Relators.

THE CHIEF-JUSTICE delivered the opinion of the court.

The answer or return of the County Commissioners admits the several facts charged in the alternative writ, to-wit : that relators recovered judgment against the county in May, 1881, for $2,619.26 and costs; that execution has

The State ex rel. v. Co. Com'rs Jackson Co.-Opinion of Court.

been issued on the judgment and returned unsatisfied; that the county has no property subject to levy and sale, and the judgment remains unpaid; that the County Commissioners have refused to pay or provide for the payment of the same by levying a tax for that purpose on the taxable property of the county. They further say they have no power to levy any taxes except in pursuance of law, that they are empowered by the act of 1881 to levy taxes for county purposes, viz: for "county tax proper," four mills on the dollar; for bridges and county buildings, two mills, and a tax to pay interest on the county indebtedness. They deny that they have power to levy taxes to pay judgments against the county. They further say "that the judgment of the relators is founded upon county auditors' warrants, jurors' and witnesses' certificates issued before the passage of the act of 1881, and that all other acts empowering a levy of taxes for county purposes that could be paid in county certificates have been repealed."

To this return relators demur "that said answer does not state any fact or facts which in law constitute a defence.' Treating the return as an "answer," the demurrer must be sustained.

Treating it as a return simply, it is a confession of the relators' complaint, and fails to show that the County Commissioners have not full power to levy taxes to pay the judgment. They have power to provide by taxation for paying all legitimate charges and liabilities against the county. This judgment was recovered upon warrants and certificates issued by the County Auditor and Clerk, and the judgment establishes their validity, as having been issued for county purposes. The law authorizes the Commissioners to levy to the extent of four mills on the dollar of valuation of real and personal property in the county for such purposes, besides two mills for bridges and county

The State ex rel. v. Baker-Argument of Counsel.

buildings, and another amount to pay interest on indebtedness. If a tax of four mills on the dollar of valuation of the entire taxable property of Jackson county will raise the amount of the principal of this judgment, which is not denied, I see no result but that a peremptory writ must be Issued as prayed.

The relators' demurrer is sustained and a peremptory writ of mandamus awarded.


1. The provisions of the acts relating to appeals from judgments of Justices of the Peace, so far as they provide for a trial de novo in the Circuit Court, are in conflict with the Eighth Section of Article 8, of the Constitution, and void.

2. The jurisdiction of the Circuit Court in such cases is appellate only. 3. A trial de novo, or new trial, is the exercise of original jurisdiction; and in cases at law, where the amount in controversy does not exceed one hundred dollars, the Circuit Courts have no such jurisdiction.

4. An appeal from the judgment of a Justice of the Peace has only the effect of a common law writ of error.

The appeal mentioned in the opinion was from a judgnient of a Justice of the Peace in Duval county to the Circuit Court for the same county. The mandamus proceedings were instituted in the Supreme Court.

The other facts are stated in the opinion.

R. B. Archibald for Relator.

This case grew out of the case of Manuel C. Jordan vs. Alexander Wallace, which originated in the Justice court of J. C. Marcy, Jr., in Duval county, Florida. Judgment

The State ex rel. v. Baker-Argument of Counsel.

was regularly entered in said Justice court on December 9th, 1881, against the relator (the defendant therein) for one hundred dollars. An appeal was 1egularly taken to the Circuit Court in said county, and the case was duly and properly placed upon the civil appeal docket for trial at the Spring Term of said Court, 1882. When called for trial by the Judge, James M. Baker, it was, on motion, dismissed for the reason that upon the papers on file it was impossible to review the case, though every paper required by the statute was on file; and that the statute providing for a trial de novo was unconstitutional. It is admitted that there was no bill of exceptions or paper of like character, and there was no way for the trial of said appeal except by trial de novo. Was the Circuit Judge correct, then, in holding the statute unconstitutional and dismissing said appeal?

It was admitted that said appeal had been properly taken; that the case was properly on the docket; that the said Circuit Court had appellate jurisdiction in such case, but that the said statute being unconstitutional, there was no method provided by law for disposing of it, and so it was dismissed.

The Supreme Court in 6 Fla., 293, cites with approval the language of the United States Supreme Court, "that the Constitution unavoidably deals in general language," and "does not provide for a minute specification of its powers." A review therefore of proceedings had in an inferior court, in any manner provided by law, in the exercise of appellate jurisdiction, would be in harmony with that interpretation rather than a strict technical construction.

And this would seem to be the view taken by the courts of the various States.

"The organization of the appellate courts, and the mode and manner of bringing the appealed case before it, are as va

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