Chicago Co v. City of Chicago

Decision Date01 March 1897
Docket NumberNo. 129,129
Citation166 U.S. 226,41 L.Ed. 979,17 S.Ct. 581
PartiesCHICAGO, B. & Q. R. CO. v. CITY OF CHICAGO
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

[Syllabus from pages 226-228 intentionally omitted] John J. Herrick, for plaintiff in error.

John S. Miller, for defendant in error.

Mr. Justice HARLAN delivered the opinion of the court.

The questions presented on this writ of error relate to the jurisdiction of this court to re-examine the final judgment of the supreme court of Illinois, and to certain rulings of the state court, which, it is alleged, were in disregard of that part of the fourteenth amendment declaring that no state shall deprive any person of his property without due process of law, or deny the equal protection of the laws to any person within its jurisdiction.

The constitution of Illinois provides that 'no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law.' Article 2, § 2. It also provides: 'Private property shall not be taken or damaged for public use without just compensation. Such compensation, when not made by the state, shall be ascertained by a jury, as shall be prescribed by law. The fee of land taken for railroad tracks, without consent of the owners thereof, shall remain in such owners, subject to the use for which it is taken.' Article 2, § 13.

By the fifth article of the general statute of Illinois, approved April 10, 1872, and relating to the incorporation of cities and villages, it was provided that 'the city council shall have power, by condemnation or otherwise, to extend any street, alley or highway over or across, or to construct any sewer under or through any railroad track, right of way or land of any railroad company (within the corporate limits); but where no compensation is made to such railroad company, the city shall restore such railroad track, right of way or land to its former state, or in a sufficient manner not to have impaired its usefulness.' 1 Starr & C. Ann. St. pp. 452, 472, art. 5, § 89.

The ninth article of the same statute declared that when the corporate authorities of a city or village provided by ordinance for the making of any local improvement authorized to be made, the making of which would require that private property be taken or damaged for public use, the city or village should file in its name a petition in some court of record of the county praying 'that the just compensation to be made for private property to be taken or damaged' for the improvement or purpose specified in the ordinance be ascertained by a jury.

That statute further provided: 'Sec. 14. Any final judgment or judgments, rendered by said court, upon any finding or findings of any jury or juries, shall be a lawful and sufficient condemnation of the land or property to be taken upon the payment of the amount of such finding as hereinafter provided. It shall be final and conclusive as to the damages caused by such improvement, unless such judgment or judgments shall be appealed from; but no appeal or writ of error upon the same shall delay proceedings under said ordinance, if such city or village shall deposit, as directed by the court, the amount of the judgment and costs, and shall file a bond in the court in which such judgment was rendered, in a sum to be fixed, and with security to be approved by the judge of said court, which shall secure the payment of any future compensation which may at any time be finally awarded to such party so appealing or suing out such writ of error, and his or her costs. Sec. 15. The court, upon proof that said just compensation so found by the jury has been paid to the person entitled thereto, or has been deposited as directed by the court, (and bond given, in case of any appeal or writ of error,) shall enter an order that the city or village shall have the right, at any time thereafter, to take possession of or damage the property, in respect to which such compensation shall have been so paid or deposited, as aforesaid.' 1 Starr & C. Ann. St. p. 487 et seq.

All of these provisions became a part of the charter of the city of Chicago in 1875.

By an ordinance of the city council of Chicago approved October 9, 1880, it was ordained that Rockwell street, in that city, be opened and widened from West Eighteenth street to West Nineteenth street by condemning therefor, in accordance with the avove act of April 10, 1872, certain parcels of land owned by individuals, and also certain parts of the right of way in that city of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company, a corporation of Illinois.

In execution of that ordinance a petition was filed by the city, November 12, 1890, in the circuit court of Cook county, Ill., for the condemnation of the lots, pieces, or parcels of land and property proposed to be taken or damaged for the proposed improvement, and praying that the just compensation required for private property taken or damaged be ascertained by a jury.

The parties interested in the property described in the petition, including the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Company, were admitted as defendants in the proceeding. $In their verdict the jury fixed the just compensation to be paid to the respective individual owners of the lots, pieces, and parcels of land and property sought to be taken or damaged by the proposed improvements, and fixed one dollar as just compensation to the railroad company in respect of those parts of its right of way described in the city'd petition as necessary to be used for the purposes of the proposed street.

Thereupon the railroad company moved for a new trial. The motion was overruled, and a final judgment was rendered in execution of the award by the juty. That judgment was affirmed by the supreme court of the state. affirmed by the supreme court of the state.

The motion by the city to dismiss the writ of error for want of jurisdiction will be first considered. It the right now asserted under the constitution of the United States was specifically set up or claimed by the defendant in the state court, the motion to dismiss must be overruled. Rev. St. U. S. § 709.

An examination of the statues under which this proceeding was instituted will show that no provision is made for an answer by the defendants. In Smith v. Railroad Co., 105 Ill. 511, 516, the supreme court of Illinois said that there was no rule of law or of practice authorizing the filing of an answer to a petition for the condemnation of land under the eminent domain act of that state; that the proceeding was purely statutory; and that, although the statute was very minute in all its details, specifically setting forth every step to be taken in the progress of a cause from its inception to its final determination, it did not contain any allusion to an answer by the defendants.

It is not, therefore, important that the defendant neither filed nor offered to file an answer specially setting up or claiming a right under the constitution of the United States. It is sufficient if it appears from the record that such right was specially set up or claimed in the state court in such manner as to being it to the attention of that court.

Now, the right in question was distinctly asserted by the defendant in its written motion to set aside the verdict, and grant a new trial. Among the grounds for a new trial were the following: That the several rulings of the court in excluding proper evidence for the defendant, the statute under which the proceedings for condemnation were instituted, and the verdict of the jury and the judgment based upon it, were all contrary to the fourteenth amendment, declaring that no state shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its limits the equal protection of the laws.

When the trial court overruled the motion for a new trial, and entered judgment, it necessarily held adversely to these claims of federal right.

But this is not all. In the assignment of errors filed by the defendant in the supreme court of Illinois, these claims of rights under the constitution of the United States were distinctly reasserted.

It is true that the supreme court of Illinois did not, in its opinion, expressly refer to the constitution of the United States. But that circumstance is not conclusive against the jurisdiction of this court to re-examine the final judgment of the state court. The judgment of affirmance necessarily denied the federal rights thus specially set up be the defendant, for that judgment could not have been rendered without deciding adversely to such claims of right. Those claims went to the very foundation of the whole proceeding so far as it related to the railroad company, and the legal effect of the judgment of the supreme court of the state was to deny them. 'The true and rational rule,' this court said in Bridge Proprietors v. Hoboken Co., 1 Wall. 116, 143, 'is that the court must be able to see clearly, from the whole record, that a certain provision of the constitution or act of congress was relied on by the party who brings the writ of error, and that the right thus claimed by him was denied.' In Roby v. Colehour, 146 U. S. 153, 159, 13 Sup. Ct. 47, it was said that: 'Our jurisdiction being invoked upon the ground that a right or immunity, specially set up and claimed under the constitution or authority of the United States, has been denied by the judgment sought to be reviewed, it must appear from the record of the case either that the right so set up and claimed was expressly denied, or that such was the necessary effect in law of the judgment.' De Saussure v. Gaillard, 127 U. S. 216, 234, 8 Sup. Ct. 1053; Brown v. Atwell, 92 U. S. 327; Insurance Co. v. Needles, 113 U. S. 574, 577, 5 Sup. Ct. 681; Sayward v. Denny, 158 U. S. 180, 183, 15 Sup. Ct. 777. There is we conceive, no room to doubt that the legal effect of the judgment below was to declare that the rights asserted by the defendant under the national constitution were not...

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