Miller-Brent Lumber Co. v. State, 4 Div. 27.

CourtSupreme Court of Alabama
Writing for the CourtTHOMAS, J.
Citation97 So. 97,210 Ala. 30
Docket Number4 Div. 27.
Decision Date09 June 1923

97 So. 97

210 Ala. 30


4 Div. 27.

Supreme Court of Alabama

June 9, 1923

Appeal from Circuit Court, Coffee County; Arthur B. Foster, Judge.

Bill by the State of Alabama and Coffee County against the Miller-Brent Lumber Company. From a decree for complainants, defendant appeals. Affirmed. [97 So. 98]

J. A. Carnley, of Elba, for appellant.

W. W. Sanders, of Elba, for appellees.


The bill in equity was to ascertain the amount of taxes due the state and county for the tax year indicated, and to enforce the respective liens thereon for the taxes.

The subject of the jurisdiction of a court of chancery to re-establish lost or destroyed records, such as are the subject of consideration, was recently discussed in Wise v. State, 208 Ala. 58, 93 So. 886.

The court committed no error in admitting in evidence the substituted tax assessments and decrees thereon, the preliminary [97 So. 99] proceedings thereto, and the respective notices and orders thereof provided and required by statute to be given to a due substitution of such tax records. It is immaterial that the substitution of the records was made subsequent to the filing of the bill in the instant case. The tax having been duly assessed, etc., the lien for such taxes attached, that lien was not destroyed by the loss or theft of the records in question, and may be substituted under a retrospective statute. Folsom v. Carnley (Ala. Sup.) 97 So. 95.

The authority to establish the records, as was done in this case, is to be found in the Act of the Special Session, 1921, page 22 et seq.:

"To provide a statutory method for substituting any tax record in any county in this state and giving to the substituted records the same force and effect for all purposes as the original had, where such original record has been lost, stolen or destroyed."

It is provided in the act that when any tax record has been lost, stolen, or destroyed, the same may be substituted, "and such substituted record shall be of equal validity with the original"; and that notice of the proceedings prior to the decree of substitution shall be given by publication. Provision is also made for objection by the taxpayer and for appeals; and, in fact, adequate procedure is provided for carrying into effect the purposes and provisions of the act. State Tax Commission v. Bailey & Howard, 179 Ala. 620, 627, 60 So. 913. To meet any suggestion of due process, it is specifically provided that any taxpayer who is aggrieved at the findings of the tax adjuster and the state, or the county, shall have a right of appeal from such findings to the state tax commission, which commission is given authority to hear, consider, and determine such appeal, and, for such purpose, to "sit at the State Capitol"; and any such taxpayer shall have a further right to appeal from the findings or the decree of the state tax commission to the Court of Appeals of the state within the reasonable time provided by the act. In section 23 of the act is contained the legislative declaration that its provisions are intended to be remedial, and shall apply both to the case where any such tax records of a county have been so lost, stolen, or destroyed before the passage and approval of the act, as well as to the case of the loss, theft, or destruction of such records thereafter. It is apparent that the provisions of the statute were prepared after a full knowledge of the effect of statutes having retrospective operation. Barrington v. Barrington, 200 Ala. 315, 322, 76 So. 81; Board of Revenue of Jefferson County v. Hewitt, 206 Ala. 405, 90 So. 781; Ex parte Buckley, 53 Ala. 42, 53.

The act was approved on the 29th day of October, 1921, and the original bill in this cause was filed October 8, of the same year, prior to the passage of the act. Being remedial in its nature, and having retrospective operation, the statute applied to pending cases.

The retrospective operation of statutes has been often discussed by this court. It is said that a statute intended by the Legislature to be applied to, or have effect on, past actions, transactions, contracts, offenses, or the exercise of power, may be valid and effective when the Legislature originally had authority to confer the power, or to authorize the act or transaction; that is to say, in cases where the curative statute does not (1) have the effect of impairing a vested or contract right, or (2) of validating an unconstitutional statute or proceeding, or (3) of taking away a cause of action, or (4) of destroying an existing defense to a cause of action after suit has been commenced, or (5) of reviving a right or remedy which had been barred by lapse of time or by statute. Board of Revenue of Jefferson County v. Hewitt, 206 Ala. 405, 409, 410, 90 So. 781; Cooley, Constitutional Limitations (6th Ed.) p. 454; 1 Dillon, Municip. Corpr. (5th Ed.) § 129, p. 231; Chuoco Tiaco v. Forbes, 228 U.S. 549, 33 S.Ct. 585, 57 L.Ed. 960.

The observation of appellant's counsel is that the loss of the original record may not be proven by the certificate of the tax assessor. The authority was given by section 2 of the Act of October 29, 1921 (Acts, p. 22), to the tax assessor to notify the state tax commission in writing of the loss, theft or destruction of such records. The record shows that the first step looking to the substitution of such lost or stolen tax records was made by the certificate of the tax assessor notifying the state tax commission, in writing, as required by the act, of...

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10 cases
  • In re Fite, 6 Div. 216.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • June 9, 1933
    ...matter that was procedural merely, and not violative of a substantive right as affecting this defendant. Miller-Brent Lumber Co. v. State, 210 Ala. 30, 33, 97 So. 97. It need hardly be observed, that in a matter of procedure, the legislative procedure prescribed would prima facie apply to a......
  • Howard v. State, 8 Div. 464.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • January 26, 1933
    ...statute retroactive effect to bonds issued on June 1, 1923. In a sense the statute was remedial (Miller-Brent Lumber Co. v. State et al., 210 Ala. 30, 97 So. 97; Lehmann v. State Board of Public Accountancy et al., 208 Ala. 185, 94 So. 94; Folsom v. Carnley, 210 Ala. 131, 97 So. 95; Barring......
  • Jefferson County Com'n v. Edwards, 1090437 and 1090517.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • May 14, 2010 not define the limitations of § 95, if any, in regard to retroactive tax legislation. In49 So.3d 699Miller-Brent Lumber Co. v. State, 210 Ala. 30, 34, 97 So. 97, 100-01 (1923), the Court said: "It is unnecessary to further indicate that the act was highly remedial and retrospective in op......
  • Jefferson County Commission v. Edwards, No. 1090437 (Ala. 5/14/2010), 1090437.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • May 14, 2010
    ...taxation but do not define the limitations of § 95, if any, in regard to retroactive tax legislation. In Miller-Brent Lumber Co. v. State, 210 Ala. 30, 34, 97 So. 97, 100-01 (1923), the Court said: "It is unnecessary to further indicate that the act was highly remedial and retrospective in ......
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