Chaffin v. Christian County, No. 49073

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Writing for the CourtSTORCKMAN
Citation359 S.W.2d 730
PartiesJoe N. CHAFFIN, Respondent, v. The COUNTY OF CHRISTIAN, Thomas F. Eagleton, Attorney General, and Haskell Holman, State Auditor, Appellants.
Decision Date10 September 1962
Docket NumberNo. 49073

Page 730

359 S.W.2d 730
Joe N. CHAFFIN, Respondent,
v.
The COUNTY OF CHRISTIAN, Thomas F. Eagleton, Attorney
General, and Haskell Holman, State Auditor, Appellants.
No. 49073.
Supreme Court of Missouri, En Banc.
Sept. 10, 1962.

Page 731

Thomas F. Eagleton, Atty. Gen., Wayne W. Waldo, Asst. Atty. Gen., Jefferson City, for defendants-appellants.

Moore, Pettit & Steinle, J. Hal Moore and Walter S. Pettit, Jr., Aurora, for respondent.

STORCKMAN, Judge.

This is a declartory judgment action to determine the constitutionality of subdivision 2 of Sec. 48.030, RSMo 1959, V.A.M.S., and the rights of the plaintiff thereunder. The part of the section questioned provides in substance that although otherwise qualified no county of the fourth class shall become a county of the third class until the question is submitted to the people and approved by a majority of the electors at a general election. The amount of the plaintiff's salary as treasurer of Christian County is dependent on the outcome. In addition to Christian County, the attorney general of Missouri and the state auditor are defendants. The trial court declared subdivision 2 of the statute unconstitutional in accordance with the plaintiff's contention. The defendants appealed.

Jurisdiction of the appeal is in this court because state officers, as such, are parties and the construction of the constitution of this state is involved. Art. V, Sec. 3, Constitution of Missouri 1945, V.A.M.S.; Marshall v. Kansas City, Mo., 355 S.W.2d 887, 879.

The facts are stipulated and establish that the plaintiff began his present term as treasurer on January 1, 1959, at which time Christian County was a fourth-class county. On January 28, 1959, the defendant Haskell

Page 732

Holman, acting in his capacity as state auditor, sent a letter to the plaintiff and other officials of Christian County advising them that the county had had an assessed valuation in excess of $10 million for five successive years and under the provisions of Sec. 48.030 Christian County had changed from a fourth-class to a third-class county effective as of January 1, 1961.

Thereafter, the general assembly enacted House Bill No. 297 effective August 29, 1959, which repealed Sec. 48.030 and enacted another section with the same number. The substantial change in the section was the addition of subdivision 2. On January 14, 1960, the defendant Holman by letter notified the plaintiff and other county officials of Christian County of the change in the law and advised them that pursuant to an opinion of the attorney general Christian County would not become a county of the third class until the new classification was approved by the voters in accordance with subdivision 2 of the new statute. A proposal to change Christian County from the fourth to the third class, submitted to the voters at the general election in November 1960, was defeated. There were 1,488 votes in favor of the proposal and 3,109 votes against it.

On December 14, 1960, plaintiff filed an 'Officer's Budget Estimate' in the office of the county clerk of Christian County specifying his salary at $3,000, which would have been the salary of the treasurer of Christian County as a third-class county. The county court declined to accept this estimate and approved and filed a budget designating plaintiff's salary at $2,700, which was on the basis of Christian County being a fourth-class county. On May 1, 1961, plaintiff was paid his salary for the months of January, February, March, and April 1961, based on an annual salary of $2,700. The plaintiff submitted a bill to the county court for additional salary for these four months figured on the basis of a third-class county which bill was rejected by the county court.

In due course, the plaintiff filed suit for a declaratory judgment and the defendants filed their joint answer. A stipulation of facts was filed and the cause was submitted to the court on the pleadings and the facts stipulated. The trial court rendered its judgment on July 31, 1961, declaring that subdivision 2 of Sec. 48.030, RSMo 1959, V.A.M.S., was unconstitutional, that Christian County became a county of the third class on January 1, 1961, and that the plaintiff was entitled to back salary as treasurer of a third-class county from January 1, 1961.

The defendants first contend that the amended petition should have been dismissed because the plaintiff did not plead or prove a claim upon which relief could be granted in that no justiciable controversy was shown to exist. The petition is consistent with the facts stipulated and will be treated as if amended to embrace the issues made by such facts. S.Ct. Rule 55.54, V.A.M.R.

Section 527.020, RSMo 1959, V.A.M.S., M.S., provides among other things that any person whose rights, status or other legal relations are affected by a statute may have determined any question of construction or validity arising under the statute and obtain a declaration of rights, status or other legal relations thereunder. Since there was a bona fide dispute between the parties with respect to the constitutionality of the statute on which plaintiff's claim for compensation as county treasurer depended, a justiciable controversy existed and the plaintiff was entitled to a determination of the validity of the statute under the Declaratory Judgments Act. St. Louis Housing Authority v. City of St. Louis, 361 Mo. 1170, 239 S.W.2d 289; Smith v. Pettis County, 345 Mo. 839, 136 S.W.2d 282; Maxwell v. Andrew County, 347 Mo. 156, 146 S.W.2d 621. Under this assignment the appellants also assert that the evidence was insufficient to overcome the presumption of the validity of the statute and to support the judgment.

Page 733

The determination of the specific constitutional questions presented renders separate treatment of this general allegation unnecessary.

In the course of implementing the 1945 Constitution, the general assembly divided the counties of the state into four classes 'for the purpose of establishing organization and powers in accordance with the provisions of Section 8, Article VI'. Laws 1945, pp. 1801-1802. The classification section of the act became Sec. 48.020 of our statutes. It classifies the counties on the basis of assessed valuation as follows: Class 1. All counties having an assessed valuation of $300 million and over. Class 2. All counties having an assessed valuation of $70 million and less than $300 million. Class 3. All counties having an assessed valuation of $10 million and less than $70 million. Class 4. All counties having an assessed valuation of less than $10 million.

Another section of the same act provided that no county...

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8 practice notes
  • State ex rel. State Highway Commission v. City of St. Louis, No. 38235
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • October 31, 1978
    ...by Commission. Paragraph 6 of the counterclaim alleges that the payments were the result of duress. In Chaffin v. County of Christian, 359 S.W.2d 730 (Mo. banc 1962) a stipulation of facts was filed. The court denied an attack upon the petition holding that the petition, being consistent wi......
  • City of Hannibal v. Winchester, No. 50068
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • June 14, 1965
    ...or isolated provisions. State ex rel. Randolph County v. Walden, 357 Mo. 167, 206 S.W.2d 979, 982-983 ; Chaffin v. Christian County, Mo., 359 S.W.2d 730, 734 ; State ex rel. City of Marshall v. Hackmann, 274 Mo. 551, 203 S.W. 960, 961-962. Therefore, the right of a city to amend its charter......
  • State ex rel. Eagleton v. McQueen, No. 50435
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • May 11, 1964
    ...Section 527.020 RSMo 1959, V.A.M.S.; Gem Stores, Inc., v. O'Brien, Mo., 374 S.W.2d 109, 113; Chaffin v. Christian County, Mo., 359 S.W.2d 730, 732; Terrace v. Thompson, 263 U.S. 197, 215-216, 44 S.Ct. 15, 68 L.Ed. 255. Since the issue of vagueness is the only specification of unconstitution......
  • Gramex Corp. v. Von Romer, No. 61720.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • September 9, 1980
    ...within a class are laws dealing with the classification and organization of counties. The case of Chaffin v. County of Christian, 359 S.W.2d 730 (Mo. banc 1962), is cited by intervenors as support for this interpretation. Chaffin, at 734, "Prior to the adoption of the 1945 Constitution......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • State ex rel. State Highway Commission v. City of St. Louis, No. 38235
    • United States
    • Missouri Court of Appeals
    • October 31, 1978
    ...by Commission. Paragraph 6 of the counterclaim alleges that the payments were the result of duress. In Chaffin v. County of Christian, 359 S.W.2d 730 (Mo. banc 1962) a stipulation of facts was filed. The court denied an attack upon the petition holding that the petition, being consistent wi......
  • City of Hannibal v. Winchester, No. 50068
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • June 14, 1965
    ...or isolated provisions. State ex rel. Randolph County v. Walden, 357 Mo. 167, 206 S.W.2d 979, 982-983 ; Chaffin v. Christian County, Mo., 359 S.W.2d 730, 734 ; State ex rel. City of Marshall v. Hackmann, 274 Mo. 551, 203 S.W. 960, 961-962. Therefore, the right of a city to amend its charter......
  • State ex rel. Eagleton v. McQueen, No. 50435
    • United States
    • Missouri Supreme Court
    • May 11, 1964
    ...Section 527.020 RSMo 1959, V.A.M.S.; Gem Stores, Inc., v. O'Brien, Mo., 374 S.W.2d 109, 113; Chaffin v. Christian County, Mo., 359 S.W.2d 730, 732; Terrace v. Thompson, 263 U.S. 197, 215-216, 44 S.Ct. 15, 68 L.Ed. 255. Since the issue of vagueness is the only specification of unconstitution......
  • Gramex Corp. v. Von Romer, No. 61720.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • September 9, 1980
    ...within a class are laws dealing with the classification and organization of counties. The case of Chaffin v. County of Christian, 359 S.W.2d 730 (Mo. banc 1962), is cited by intervenors as support for this interpretation. Chaffin, at 734, "Prior to the adoption of the 1945 Constitution......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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