Purdy v. Glover

Decision Date06 November 1939
Docket Number4-5613 and 4-5786 (consolidated)
CourtArkansas Supreme Court

No 4-5613 Petition for Supersedeas to Lawrence Circuit Court Eastern District; supersedeas dissolved.

No 4-5786 Appeal from Lawrence Circuit Court, Eastern District S. M. Bone, Judge; affirmed.

Judgments affirmed.

Ben B. Williamson and Richardson & Richardson, for appellants.

Smith & Judkins and O. C. Blackford, for appellees.



This appeal is from judgments of the circuit court ousting two municipal officers-designate from the positions they had sought in the April (1939) general election, and to which they had been certified.

A. B. Glover and J. E. Purdy were opposing candidates for mayor of Hoxie. Jim Smith, O. L. Davis, and W. C. Cloyd were candidates for marshal in the same election.

In the race for mayor 467 votes were cast. The number cast in the marshal's race was 471.

The election commissioners certified that Purdy had been elected mayor with a vote of 240, 227 having been cast for Glover. Davis was certified as having been elected marshal by a majority of 26, the vote being 164 to 138. The vote received by Cloyd was not an issue.

April 13 suits were filed in circuit court alleging election irregularities; that illegal votes had been cast; and that if the returns were purged of such illegal ballots the result, based upon valid returns, would show the election of Glover and Smith.

Demurrers were overruled, answers were filed, and trial was commenced May 22. It continued into the next day. A great deal of testimony was introduced touching upon the qualifications of voters whose ballots were questioned. A resume of this testimony would serve no useful purpose. Over objections of the defendants, the court ordered boxes containing the original and the duplicate ballots to be opened and contents checked.

Final judgments were that Glover had been elected mayor and Smith marshal, and ". . . the defendant, J. E. Purdy, [and the defendant, O. L. Davis, are] hereby ousted [from said offices"].

Although the record does not disclose an order of consolidation, the proceedings seem to have been treated as though consolidation had been directed, and the motion for a new trial is in the joint names of Purdy and Davis. Thirty assignments of alleged errors are brought forward, some of which have been abandoned, and others not urged. Finally, appellants state in their brief: "We therefore earnestly urge this court to reverse and remand this cause (1) on the ground that the ballots, original and duplicate, were shown to have lost their presumptive verity; and, further, were not affirmatively shown to be worthy of credit, but on the contrary were affirmatively shown to be unworthy of credit, and (2) the court erred in placing the burden on defendants to prove the eligibility of all voters whose names did not appear on the printed [official] list from Boas township."

Appellants also seek clarification of the question of jurisdiction.

First. Appellants insist that the court erred in not directing verdicts for the defendants at the conclusion of testimony tending to show that parties who had voted were ineligible. The point was made that even if those in question had in fact voted, the evidence did not disclose the candidates for whom such ballots had been cast; that this could only be determined by opening the boxes; that the integrity of the ballots had been destroyed because of the manner of handling the boxes.

Appellants rely upon Horne v. Fish, 198 Ark. 79, 127 S.W.2d 623, and the cases there cited, and upon Henderson v. Gladish, ante, p. 217, 198 Ark. 217, 128 S.W.2d 257.

In the Fish case it was held that the ballot boxes had not lost their integrity, although irregularities had occurred, and although the method of sealing provided by law had not been followed. There is this significant observation in the opinion: ". . . this contest has taken the usual or conventional form of such contests, and [it may be said] that upon this appeal only the following matters are presented: (1) Did contestant W. A. Fish receive the highest number of legal votes cast in the August primary? (2) Was the contestee, J. M. Horne, who had been duly certified as the nominee, properly held to be ineligible to hold an office?" Later, the opinion says: "Admitting the full force of appellant's argument, we think it sufficient to say that it affirmatively appears that the integrity and purity of the ballots must be deemed as unimpeached."

Our conclusion in the instant case is the same. Although the strict letter of the law was not observed in depositing the ballot boxes, it is not shown or intimated that this was occasioned by anything but a lack of understanding of statutory requirements. Witnesses who testified with respect to the boxes either affirmed that the original seals had not been broken, or that they saw nothing to indicate such.

The Henderson-Gladish case does not sustain appellants' contention. The issue there was whether an elector whose poll tax receipt had been written with an indelible pencil was entitled to have his vote counted. This court was of the opinion that the taxpayer had the right, prior to using his receipt, to compel the collector, by appropriate legal measures, to write such receipt with pen and ink. However, payment of the tax in a timely manner, it was held, entitled the elector to vote if other qualifications were present.

Second. The court did not err in placing the burden of proof upon appellants to show qualifications of voters whose names did not appear on the official list for Boas township. The record, as we construe it, shows that all of Hoxie was within the township in question, although the town did not include all of the territorial area of the township. The official list of poll taxpayers for Boas township was admissible to show, prima facie, what names constituted the electorate. Hargis v. Hall, Secretary of State, 196 Ark. 878, p. 888, 120 S.W.2d 335, and cases there cited.

Third. An assignment argued in appellants' brief for the purpose of clarifying the law is that the trial court erred in holding that the proceedings were ordinary actions at law under Chapter 164 of Pope's Digest--the usurpation statute-- beginning with § 14325. The applicable statute is § 14326 of Pope's Digest. See marginal note. [1]

Ferguson v. Wolchansky, 133 Ark. 516, 202 S.W. 826, is cited, emphasis being placed on that part of the opinion which says:

"Persons assuming to act under an election authorized by law have color of title to an office and are not usurpers within the meaning of the statute. . . . At any rate, it devolved on appellants in order to state a cause of action to allege that appellees were not acting under an election to office and were usurpers."

If we should consider the quoted part of the opinion, and disregard the remainder, certainly it would be necessary to concede that, if the circuit court in the instant case was without jurisdiction, the judgments of ouster are void.

The controversy in the Wolchansky case was to determine who should serve as school directors in Desha county. Chief Justice MCCULLOCH, speaking for the court said: "The constitution confers authority upon the legislature to provide by law for the mode of contesting elections in cases not otherwise specifically provided for in the constitution itself. Art. 19, § 24. In exercise of that power the general assembly enacted a statute providing for contests in the county court of the election of 'any clerk of the circuit court, sheriff, coroner, county surveyor,...

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11 cases
  • Jones v. Dixon, 5-1297
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arkansas
    • 3 de junho de 1957
    ...§ 34-2203. The cases of Payne v. Rittman, 66 Ark. 201, 49 S.W. 814; Whittaker v. Watson, 68 Ark. 555, 60 S.W. 652; and Purdy v. Glover, 199 Ark. 63, 132 S.W.2d 821, were contests of elections for municipal offices; Article 7, Section 28, of the Constitution does not apply to It was held, ho......
  • Sturdy v. Hall
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arkansas
    • 14 de outubro de 1940
    ...approved in the cases of Taaffe v. Sanderson, 173 Ark. 970, 294 S.W. 74; Hargis v. Hall, 196 Ark. 878, 120 S.W.2d 335; and Purdy v. Glover, 199 Ark. 63, 132 S.W.2d 821. The last two of these cases held that, where it is shown that a person has signed as a resident of a particular county, an......
  • Sturdy v. Hall
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arkansas
    • 14 de outubro de 1940
    ...... Sanderson , 173 Ark. 970, 294 S.W. 74;. Hargis v. Hall , 196 Ark. 878, 120 S.W.2d. 335; and Purdy v. Glover , 199 Ark. 63, 132. S.W.2d 821. The last two of these cases held that, where it. is shown that a person has signed as a resident of a. ......
  • Smith v. State ex rel. Duty
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arkansas
    • 10 de fevereiro de 1947
    ...... authority to institute the present suit, and on the authority. of State v. Tyson, 161 Ark. 42, 255 S.W. 289, reaffirmed in Purdy v. Glover, 199. Ark. 63, 132 S.W.2d 821, we must, and do, sustain this. contention. In the Tyson case, the prosecuting attorney had. brought suit ......
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