United States v. Rio Grand Dam & Irrigation Co.
184 U.S. 416 (1902)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Rio Grand Dam & Irrigation Co., 184 U.S. 416 (1902)

United States v. Rio Grand Dam and Irrigation Company

No. 239

Argued November 14-15, 1901

Decided March 3, 1902

184 U.S. 416




The motion made in the court below on behalf of the United States for a continuance of this cause and the application for a rehearing were addressed to the discretion of the trial court, and this Court cannot reverse the decree below merely upon the ground that the trial court erred in its denial of those motions; but, as it is quite clear that the record does not contain evidence of a material character, and that the absence of such evidence is due to the action of the trial court in not giving sufficient time to the government to prepare its case, this Court cannot resist the conviction that, if it proceeds to a final decree upon the present record great wrong may be done, and it reverses the decree below without considering the merits, and remands the case with orders that leave should be granted to both sides to adduce further evidence.

Page 184 U. S. 417

MR. JUSTICE HARLAN delivered the opinion of the Court.

This suit presents a contest between the United States and the appellee corporations as to the right asserted by the latter to construct over and near the Rio Grande a certain dam and reservoir for the purpose of appropriating the waters of that river in their private business.

By the seventh article of the Treaty of February 2, 1848, between the United States and the Republic of Mexico, it is provided that

"the River Gila and the part of the Rio Bravo del Norte lying below the southern boundary of New Mexico, being, agreeably to the fifth article, divided in the middle between the two Republics, the navigation of the Gila and of the Bravo below said boundary shall be free and common to the vessels and citizens of both countries, and neither shall, without the consent of the other, construct any work that may impede or interrupt, in whole or in part, the exercise of this right; not even for the purpose of favoring new methods of navigation. . . . The stipulations contained in the present article shall not impair the territorial rights of either republic within its established limits."

9 Stat. 928. And, by the fourth article of the Treaty of December 30, 1853, between the same countries, it was further provided that

"the several provisions, stipulations, and restrictions contained in the seventh article of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo shall remain in force only so far as regards the Rio Bravo del Norte, below the initial of the said boundary provided in the first article of this treaty, that is to say, below the intersection of the 31

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