Hedrick v. County Court of Raleigh County, No. 12889

CourtSupreme Court of West Virginia
Writing for the CourtCALHOUN; An interesting student comment on the Greenbrier County Airport Authority case
Citation172 S.E.2d 312,153 W.Va. 660
PartiesBetty HEDRICK, Ethel Keyser, Margarette Polk, Ernest H. Radford and Helen Hope Snuffer, as Citizens, Residents and Taxpayers of Raleigh County, West Virginia v. The COUNTY COURT OF RALEIGH COUNTY, West Virginia, a Corporation, WalterJanes, its President, Minor L. Scott and Charles T. Burdiss, CommissionersThereof, and Fred T. Stacy, Clerk of Said County Court, and the Board ofEducation of RaleighCounty, West Virginia, a Corporation, J. A. Blackburn, its President, George B.Chambers, A. Mac Carpenter, Warren G. Jarrell and Virgil C. Cook, Members ofSaid Board.
Docket NumberNo. 12889
Decision Date10 February 1970

Page 312

172 S.E.2d 312
153 W.Va. 660
Betty HEDRICK, Ethel Keyser, Margarette Polk, Ernest H.
Radford and Helen Hope Snuffer, as Citizens,
Residents and Taxpayers of Raleigh
County, West Virginia
v.
The COUNTY COURT OF RALEIGH COUNTY, West Virginia, a
Corporation, WalterJanes, its President, Minor L. Scott and
Charles T. Burdiss, CommissionersThereof, and Fred T. Stacy,
Clerk of Said County Court, and the Board ofEducation of
RaleighCounty, West Virginia, a Corporation, J. A.
Blackburn, its President, George B.Chambers, A. Mac
Carpenter, Warren G. Jarrell and Virgil C. Cook, Members ofSaid Board.
No. 12889.
Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia.
Argued Jan, 14, 1970.
Decided Feb. 10, 1970.

Syllabus by the Court

1. 'Whether a special act or a general law is proper, is generally a question for legislative determination; and the court will not hold a special act void, as contravening sec. 39, Art. VI. of the State Constitution, unless it clearly appears that a general law would have accomplished the legislatuve purpose as well.' Point 8 Syllabus, Woodall v. Darst, 71 W.Va. 350 (77 S.E. 264, 80 S.E. 367).

2. Chapter 161, Acts of the Legislature, Regular Session, 1969, which provides for the creation, operation and maintenance

Page 313

of the Raleigh County Public Library, is not violative of the provisions of Section 39 of Article VI of the Constitution of West Virginia, the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States or Code, 1931, 11--8--26, as amended.

[153 W.Va. 661] James M. Henderson, Beckley, fo relators.

Thomas Canterbury, Pros. Atty., Beckley, for respondents.

CALHOUN, Judge.

In this mandamus proceeding instituted in this Court pursuant to its original jurisdiction, Betty Hedrick, Ethel Keyser, Margarette Polk, Ernest H. Radford and Helen Hope Snuffer, citizens, residents and taxpayers of Raleigh County, as petitioners, against The County Court of Raleigh County and the individual commissioners thereof and against The Board of Education of Raleigh County and the individual members of that body, as respondents, the petitioners seek to require the county court and the board of education each to appoint two members of the board of directors of the Raleigh County Public Library pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 161, Acts of the Legislature, Regular Session, 1969, which hereafter in this opinion may be referred to merely as the act or as the statute.

The case was submitted for decision upon the mandamus petition; upon an answer and a demurrer to the petition; and upon briefs and oral argument of counsel.

No material issue of fact is presented for decision. The primary defense asserted in behalf of the respondents is that the statute in question violates the provisions of Section 39 of Article VI of the Constitution of West Virginia, the most pertinent portion of which is as follows: '* * * and in no case shall a special act be passed, where a general law would be proper, and can be made applicable to the case, * * *.' The constitutional provision was quoted in its entirety in Kanawha County [153 W.Va. 662] Public Library v. County Court of Kanawha County, 143 W.Va. 385, 388--389, 102 S.E.2d 712, 715.

The statute in question, the constitutionality of which is challenged in this case, resulted from a bill which was introduced in the legislature by Delegates Sparacino and McManus of Raleigh County, enacted February 28, 1969, and made effective ninety days from the date of its passage. By its provisions, it created a public library to be known as the Raleigh County Public Library to be supported by the county court and the county board of education as 'a joint endeavor of the two governing authorities' in a manner thereafter prescribed in the statute.

The statute further provides for the creation of a board of directors, a corporation, consisting of five members, two of whom are to be appointed by the county court, two by the court board of education and the fifth by the City of Beckley, a municipality which is the county seat of Raleigh County. From the briefs and oral argument, it appears that the City of Beckley appointed a member of the board of directors pursuant to the provisions of the statute and hence the city is not a party to the mandamus proceeding.

In order to provide for the support, maintenance and operation of the public library by the board of directors, the county court and the board of education, respectively, are authorized and directed by the statute, upon the written request of the board of directors, to levy certain property taxes as specified in the statute. Section 4 of the statute provides: 'The title to all property, both real and personal, now devoted to public library purposes by the board of education of the county of Raleigh in connection with the operation by it of a public library in the city of Beckley and the county of Raleigh, shall, on July first, one thousand nine hundred sixty-nine, vest in the board of directors of the

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Raleigh county public library hereby created.'

[153 W.Va. 663] The answer to the mandamus petition states 'that the citizens of Raleigh County are enjoying the facilities of the very sizeable and stable library operated by a Library Board appointed under the general statute relating to the operation of libraries,' and that the respondent county court and the respondent county board of education declined to act upon the requests for appointment of members of the board of directors 'because of the illegality of said Act, and the fact that Raleigh County had a legally appointed and acting Library Board.'

It is not questioned that a demurrer is a proper means by which to test the sufficiency of a pleading in a proceeding in mandamus. Wilson v. County Court of Logan County, 150 W.Va. 544, pt. 1 syl., 148 S.E.2d 353. Apparently it is conceded that, if the statute is valid, mandamus is a proper means by which to obtain the relief sought in this case. State ex rel. Allstate Insurance Company v. Union Public Service District, 151 W.Va. 207, pt. 1 syl., 151 S.E.2d 102.

The brief of counsel for the respondents asserts that the statute in question is in violation of Code, 1931, 11--8--26, as amended, which, generally speaking, provides that a local fiscal body shall not expend money or incur obligations to be paid from levies available for a subsequent fiscal year. This contention is not urged vigorously and we believe it is without substantial merit. See Edwards v. Hylbert, 146 W.Va. 1, 18--19, 118 S.E.2d 347, 356--357.

The demurrer to the mandamus petition asserts that the statute in question...

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5 practice notes
  • State ex rel. Cooper v. Tennant, Nos. 11–1405
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • July 20, 2012
    ...as well.’ Point 8 Syllabus, Woodall v. Darst, 71 W.Va. 350 [77 S.E. 264, 80 S.E. 367 (1965) ].” Syl. Pt. 1, Hedrick v. County Court, 153 W.Va. 660, 172 S.E.2d 312 (1970). 10. The West Virginia House of Delegates redistricting statute, West Virginia Code § 1–2–2 (2011), as amended by House B......
  • State ex rel. Cooper v. Tennant, No. 11-1405
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • February 13, 2012
    ...purpose as well.' Point 8 Syllabus, Woodall v. Darst, 71 W.Va. 350 [77 S.E. 264, 80 S.E. 367]." Syl. Pt. 1, Hedrick v. County Court, 153 W.Va. 660, 172 S.E.2d 312 (1970). 10. The West Virginia House of Delegates redistricting statute, West Virginia Code §1-2-2 (2011), as amended by House Bi......
  • Simpson v. Wv. Office of Ins. Com'R, No. 34368.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • April 30, 2009
    ...unless in that respect the invalidity of the act appears beyond reasonable doubt." Hedrick v. County Court of Raleigh County, 153 W.Va. 660, 668, 172 S.E.2d 312, 316 (1970) (citation omitted). Accord Syl. pt. 3, Willis v. O'Brien, 151 W.Va. 628, 153 S.E.2d 178 (1967) ("When the constitution......
  • State ex rel. City of Charleston v. Bosely, No. 14031
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • July 15, 1980
    ...See, e. g., Meisel v. Tri-State Airport Authority, 135 W.Va. 528, 64 S.E.2d 32 (1951); Hedrick v. County Court of Raleigh County, 153 W.Va. 660, 172 S.E.2d 312 (1970). The existence of general legislation forecloses this inquiry at the outset because a general law has been made applicable. ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • State ex rel. Cooper v. Tennant, Nos. 11–1405
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • July 20, 2012
    ...as well.’ Point 8 Syllabus, Woodall v. Darst, 71 W.Va. 350 [77 S.E. 264, 80 S.E. 367 (1965) ].” Syl. Pt. 1, Hedrick v. County Court, 153 W.Va. 660, 172 S.E.2d 312 (1970). 10. The West Virginia House of Delegates redistricting statute, West Virginia Code § 1–2–2 (2011), as amended by House B......
  • State ex rel. Cooper v. Tennant, No. 11-1405
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • February 13, 2012
    ...purpose as well.' Point 8 Syllabus, Woodall v. Darst, 71 W.Va. 350 [77 S.E. 264, 80 S.E. 367]." Syl. Pt. 1, Hedrick v. County Court, 153 W.Va. 660, 172 S.E.2d 312 (1970). 10. The West Virginia House of Delegates redistricting statute, West Virginia Code §1-2-2 (2011), as amended by House Bi......
  • Simpson v. Wv. Office of Ins. Com'R, No. 34368.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • April 30, 2009
    ...unless in that respect the invalidity of the act appears beyond reasonable doubt." Hedrick v. County Court of Raleigh County, 153 W.Va. 660, 668, 172 S.E.2d 312, 316 (1970) (citation omitted). Accord Syl. pt. 3, Willis v. O'Brien, 151 W.Va. 628, 153 S.E.2d 178 (1967) ("When the constitution......
  • State ex rel. City of Charleston v. Bosely, No. 14031
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • July 15, 1980
    ...See, e. g., Meisel v. Tri-State Airport Authority, 135 W.Va. 528, 64 S.E.2d 32 (1951); Hedrick v. County Court of Raleigh County, 153 W.Va. 660, 172 S.E.2d 312 (1970). The existence of general legislation forecloses this inquiry at the outset because a general law has been made applicable. ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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