Stafford v. Cook

Decision Date18 June 1923
Docket Number47
Citation252 S.W. 597,159 Ark. 438
CourtArkansas Supreme Court

Appeal from Mississippi Circuit Court, Chickasawba District; W. W Bandy, Judge; reversed.

Reversed and cause remanded.

T J. Crowder, for appellants.

The ballots with five names voted for, there being only two vacancies and two directors to elect, were fraudulent and could not be counted. C. & M. Digest, 3829. 97 Ark. 221, not decisive of this case. The fact that three directors had failed to pay poll-taxes and were ineligible to hold office did not operate to vacate their offices. 90 Ark. 335. It only furnished grounds for their removal. Since there were but two vacancies and the only legal ballots were cast for Stafford and Ledbetter, 28 each, they should have been declared elected.

Gravette & Rayner, for appellees.

Three of the directors being disqualified to hold office, not having paid a poll-tax, and there being two other vacancies the electors properly voted for five directors, and having received the highest number of votes, they were elected. A person not having a receipt for poll-tax paid in proper time is ineligible to vote for or hold office of school director. 97 Ark. 221; § 3, art. 19, Const.; 107 Ark. 272. The failure of the three directors to pay poll-tax was a disqualification authorizing the election of their successors. 145 Ark. 443.

T. J. Crowder, in reply.

145 Ark. 443, cited by appellees, has no application here.



This appeal involves a contest between the parties for the office of school director of a special school district in Mississippi County.

Gosnell Special School District No. 6, the district in which this contest arises, was created by special statute approved February 23, 1920, and the statute provides for a board of directors composed of six members. The present contest relates to the regular election in May, 1922, to provide for the succession of two of the directors whose terms expired at that time. There were seven candidates, and, according to the returns, appellants, J. T. Stafford and G. R. Ledbetter, received twenty-eight votes each, and appellees, C. E. Cook and P. H. Raspberry, received thirty-three votes each. Three other candidates, according to the face of the returns, received more votes than appellants. The returns were canvassed by the county board of education, and appellees, Cook and Raspberry, entered upon the discharge of their duties. Appellants instituted a contest before the county board of education, and appealed to the circuit court of Mississippi County from an adverse decision of that board.

It appears from the evidence in the case, that the ballots cast for appellants contained only the names of two candidates, whereas the ballots received by appellees contained the names of five candidates. It is shown that these ballots were cast upon the theory that there were five vacancies, for the reason, it is claimed, that three of the directors, Lloyd, Vernon and Hale, whose terms had not expired, had become ineligible by reason of having failed to pay their poll-tax. The proof shows further that these persons were still exercising the duties of the office, and that there had been no abandonment or nonuser.

The trial court submitted to the jury the question concerning the alleged ineligibility of Lloyd, Vernon and Hale, and the jury made a special finding that they had not paid poll-tax for the previous year. The trial court then decided that these directors had rendered themselves ineligible to continue in office by reason of failing to pay poll-tax, and entered a judgment against appellants in their contest for the office. The effect of this decision of the trial court was to hold that, there being three ineligible directors, three vacancies occurred by reason thereof, and that there were three places to be filled on account of these vacancies, in addition to the places to be vacated by the expiration of terms at that time.

During the pendency of the contest in the circuit court there was instituted in the chancery court an action to restrain directors Lloyd, Vernon, Hale, G. R. Ledbetter and C. S. Ledbetter, the old directors, from exercising the functions of the office, and a temporary injunction was issued, but later dissolved, and the chancery case was transferred to the circuit court and consolidated with the election contest. This appeal brings up all of the questions raised in both actions.

The General Assembly of 1919 enacted a statute creating county boards of education. Crawford & Moses' Digest, § 8853 et seq. The statute, in effect, substituted the county board of education for the county court in the supervision of the school affairs of the respective counties in which the statute was applicable. We have decided that the Legislature did not exceed its powers in creating the board and conferring those duties upon it. Mitchell v. Directors of School District No. 13, 153 Ark. 50, 239 S.W. 371. Section 11 of that statute provides, in substance, that the returns of all school elections shall be made to the county board, that the board shall canvass the returns and "certify the result to the county court for proper record," and that "all contests pertaining to school elections shall be filed with the county board of education within fifteen days after such election, and the board shall, as soon as practicable after the contest is made or filed, grant a hearing." There is a further provision for an appeal "to the circuit court in the manner now provided by law for appeals from county courts."

Counsel in the case have not suggested any controversy concerning the question of the power of the Legislature to confer upon an election board as a special tribunal the authority to hear contests for the office of school director, but the question naturally arises, and we proceed to its decision as a preliminary matter in this controversy.

We have decided that the office of school director falls within the designation of county officers within the meaning of our statute regulating contests, and that, prior to the statute now under consideration, such a contest must originate in the county court. Ferguson v. Wolchansky, 133 Ark. 516, 202 S.W. 826. The Constitution itself provides the method of contesting elections for certain offices, and it...

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18 cases
  • Wimberly v. Deacon
    • United States
    • Oklahoma Supreme Court
    • December 21, 1943
    ...qualifications as prescribed by law to hold such office. Morford v. Territory, 10 Okl. 741, 63 P. 958, 54 L.R.A. 513. In Stafford v. Cook, 159 Ark. 438, 252 S.W. 597, the had under consideration the effect of subsequent ineligibility of a duly constituted officer with respect to the questio......
  • May v. Edwards
    • United States
    • Arkansas Supreme Court
    • November 17, 1975
    ...takes office, if he was eligible when he took office, and the subsequent ineligibility merely affords grounds for removal. Stafford v. Cook, 159 Ark. 438, 252 S.W. 597. We recognized in May v. Edwards, supra, that there were countervailing equities but that conflicting considerations should......
  • Looper v. Thrash, 98-260
    • United States
    • Arkansas Supreme Court
    • July 16, 1998, if he was eligible when he took office, and the subsequent ineligibility merely affords grounds for removal. Stafford v. Cook, 159 Ark. 438, 252 S.W. 597 [1923]. May v. Edwards, 258 Ark. at 876, 529 S.W.2d at That decision was consistent with our earlier holding in City of Berryvill......
  • Casey v. Burdine, 4-8714.
    • United States
    • Arkansas Supreme Court
    • February 21, 1949 XIX, sec. 24, allows the Legislature power to make special provisions for contesting certain elections. See Stafford v. Cook, 159 Ark. 438, 252 S.W. 597. The right to contest the election, as here concerned, is purely statutory. Terry v. Harris, 188 Ark. 60, 64 S.W.2d 80; Hays v. Harri......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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