People ex rel. Pickerill v. New York Cent. R. Co.

Decision Date15 November 1945
Docket NumberNo. 28589.,28589.
PartiesPEOPLE ex rel. PICKERILL, County Collector, v. NEW YORK CENT. R. CO.
CourtIllinois Supreme Court

OPINION TEXT STARTS HERE

Appeal from Montgomery County Court; Paul McWilliams, Judge.

Proceeding by the People, on the relation of Obert Pickerill, County Collector, against the New York Central Railroad Company. From an order overruling the defendant's objections to taxes for 1942, the defendant appeals.

Judgment affirmed.

Lester K. Vandever, of Hillsboro (S. W. Baxter and T. A. McCormack, both of Cincinnati, Ohio, of counsel), for appellant.

Alan S. Windels, State's Atty., and Omer Poos, both of Hillsboro, for appellee.

FULTON, Justice.

This is an appeal by the New York Central Railroad Company, tax objector below, from an order of the county court of Montgomery county overruling certain of its objections to taxes for the year 1942. The objections involved herein relate to school district taxes in the amount of $722.75 for School District No. 147 and school district taxes in the amount of $358.55 for School District No. 103.

At the outset of this case we are confronted by a question of jurisdiction of this court to consider the appeal. Defendant in error herein in its brief contends that this case is nor properly appealed and argues three main points as to why the appeal should be dismissed.

Under point one, it is contended that the notice of appeal does not comply with Rule 33 of this court. Ill.Rev.Stat.1943, chap. 110, par. 259.33. We have examined the notice of appeal, which was abstracted verbatim, and agree that as to form and construction it leaves something to be desired. The appellant has filed with this court motion for leave to amend the notice of appeal. To this motion was filed an objection on the part of the People. The motion and objections thereto were taken with the case. The motion seeks leave to insert at the top of the notice the following:

‘Appeal to the Supreme Court of the State of Illinois.

‘From the County Court of Montgomery County, Illinois.’

The motion also seeks leave to insert the designations Plaintiff-Appellee and Defendant-Appellant after the names of the respective parties and to change the words ‘will take an appeal’ as appearing in the original notice to ‘hereby appeals.’

Inasmuch as the filing of a sufficient notice of appeal in apt time is jurisdictional ( People ex rel. Bender v. Davis, 365 Ill. 389, 6 N.E.2d 643;People ex rel. Sandberg v. Grabs, 373 Ill. 423, 26 N.E.2d 494), the notice of appeal filed herein must meet the test of compliance with the Supreme Court Rule 33, or this appeal must be dismissed.

We have carefully examined the notice of appeal involved herein in the light of Rule 33, as well as the cases cited by both parties dealing with the requirements of a notice of appeal and their susceptibility to amendment after the statutory ninety-day period has expired. We are of the opinion that while the notice herein is not in the form prescribed by the rule, it does give, though somewhat informally, the necessary notice and information and that the question here involved comes under the rule enunciated by this court in National Bank of Republic v. Kaspar American State Bank, 369 Ill. 34, 15 N.E.2d 721, 116 A.L.R. 1464. In that case we stated that even though the appellant failed to include a prayer for relief, as required by rule, the error was only one of form rather than substance. In that case we stated, 369 Ill. at page 40, 15 N.E.2d at page 723, ‘Where as here, an appellee is not prejudiced, the Appellate Court is not deprived of jurisdiction by technical errors of this sort.’

The purpose of a notice of appeal under our practice is to inform the party in whose favor a judgment or decree has been rendered that the unsuccessful party desires a review of the case by a higher tribunal. If, when considered as a whole, the notice fairly and adequately sets out the judgment or decree complained of, or the part thereof objected to, the court to which the appeal is to go, and the relief sought from the reviewing court, in such a way that the successful litigant may be advised of the nature of the proceedings, the absence of strict technical compliance in connection with the form of the notice should not be fatal. In this instance the notice of appeal carried the caption of the case in the county court, was addressed to the State's Attorney of Montgomery county and to the Attorney General of Illinois, referred to the judgment of the county court of Montgomery county by date, identified the particular objections by reference to the school districts involved and stated by clear inference that the appeal was to the Supreme Court of the State of Illinois and further stated what was desired by way of relief. We are aware that the right of appeal being statutory it is necessary to strictly follow the statute as to the remedy pursued. We have examined the cases cited by the appellee on the point of strict compliance with the statute, such as Sholty v. McIntyre, 136 Ill. 33, 26 N.E. 655;Freeport Motor Casualty Co. v. Madden, 354 Ill. 486, 188 N.E. 415;Gyure v. Sloan Valve Co., 367 Ill. 489, 11 N.E.2d 963. These cases are not, however, controlling on this question. We are not concerned here with the complete failure of the party appealing to take some step or do some act made necessary by statute or rule to perfect his appeal. Rather we must decide whether the notice here, admittedly deficient in form, was a sufficiently substantial compliance with the requirements of Rule 33. We hold as to this point that there was sufficient substantial compliance; that the plaintiff-appellee was not prejudiced by the omission contained in the original notice and that the motion of defendant-appellant to amend its notice of appeal should be granted.

The next contention by plaintiff-appellee is that since the judgment in this case was rendered on July 17, 1944, and because the notice of appeal was not filed until October 14, 1944, there was no compliance with section 237 of the Revenue Act, Ill.Rev.Stat.1943, chap. 120, par. 718, which act governs the appeal procedure in tax-objection cases. The above provision of the Revenue Act requires that notice of appeal be given within thirty days of the time of the rendition of the judgment. It appears from the record that on July 17, 1944, the trial judge made the following docket entry: ‘Case heard on evidence and argument. Objections overruled. Order to be prepared. Motion by Objector for leave to amend objections No. 31 and No. 34. Hearing on motion set July 24, 1944. Objection to Motion filed.’ Subsequent to July 17, 1944, other proceedings were had and on September 25, 1944, the judgment order was prepared and presented to the court for its signature.

We find no merit in this contention of appellee. It is well settled in this State that a docket entry by a trial court does not constitute a final appealable judgment. Hayes v. Industrial Comm., 383 Ill. 272, 48 N.E.2d 940;Metzger v. Wooldridge, 183 Ill. 174, 55 N.E. 694,75 Am.St.Rep. 100. This would seem particularly so here where there were subsequent proceedings had and participated in by both parties,and where the very docket entry itself contemplates a subsequent formal draft order. Cases cited by appellee, such as People ex rel. Carr v. Mitchell, 328 Ill. 206, 159 N.E. 191, to the effect that the county court loses jurisdiction of a case after the expiration of thirty days from the entry of judgment, state correct principles of law, but have no bearing on this matter. The question here is when was the judgment entered? We hold that a docket entry does not constitute a final judgment and that the judgment in this case was entered on September 25, 1944, when the trial judge signed the prepared order and judgment.

Finally, appellee says that we should not consider this appeal because there are two separate judgments here, one for School District No. 147 and one for School District No. 103, but only one notice of appeal. There is no question but what under section 235 of the Revenue Act, Ill.Rev.Stat.1943, chap. 120, par. 716, the judgments here are several and distinct. The precise question of whether a tax objector who has land in more than one taxing district must, in order to secure a full review, file a separate notice of appeal as to each tax objected to and overruled by the court has not been heretofore passed on by this court.

We have held that the provisions of the Revenue Act rather than those of the Civil Practice Act govern the procedure in connection with appeals from judgments for taxes. People ex rel. Harding v. Morris, 338 Ill. 335, 170 N.E. 216;People ex rel. Hudson v. Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway Co., 360 Ill. 180, 195 N.E. 631. The point, therefore, is controlled by section 237 of the Revenue Act. Ill.Rev.Stat.1943, chap. 120, par. 718. The pertinent part of this section is as follows: ‘Appeals from the judgment of the court may be taken to the Supreme Court as in other civil cases by the party appealing filing a notice of appeal within thirty days from the rendition of such judgment.’

There is no positive provision of law which requires that separate appeals must be taken where more than one tax item is involved in the county court judgment unless we construe the singular word ‘judgment’ appearing in the first line of section 237 of the Revenue Act as making mandatory such procedure. We are of the opinion that where, as here, several tax items were objected to, a hearing was had involving these several items, and the final judgment of the trial court incorporated two of the items in a single order, it is not necessary in order to review the correctness of the trial court's ruling that separate notices of appeal be filed where one notice of appeal fairly, adequately and correctly sets out the fact that appeal is to be taken on the two items. Rules of procedure are not ends in...

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