Lower v. United States,
91 U.S. 536 (1875)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Lower v. United States, 91 U.S. 536 (1875)

Lower v. United States

91 U.S. 536


Where a statute of Illinois requires the board of town auditors to audit charges including judgments against the town in order that provision for paying them may be made by taxation, held that where a judgment against the town was rendered by a court having jurisdiction of the parties and the subject matter, auditing it is a mere ministerial act not involving the exercise of official discretion, the performance of which can be coerced by mandamus.

The Town of Ohio, in the County of Bureau and State of Illinois, issued coupon bonds bearing date Jan. 1 1871, by way of payment for its subscription to the stock of the Illinois

Page 91 U. S. 537

Grand Trunk Railway. Such subscription had been made as authorized by an act of the General Assembly of that state in force March 25, 1869, which provided that it should be the duty of the proper authorities of the town to provide for the prompt payment of all interest and other liabilities accruing on such bonds and to levy such taxes as may be necessary therefor as other taxes are levied. Private Laws of 1869, vol. iii. p. 307.

George O. Marcy, the holder of overdue and unpaid coupons attached to such bonds, brought suit in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of Illinois against the town, and on the twelfth day of March, 1873, recovered judgment for the sum of $4,286.60 and costs of suit.

On the fifteenth day of September, 1874, $1,500 was paid at the treasury of the state on said judgment. Marcy then presented a claim for the balance due thereon to the board of auditors of the town, who are the plaintiffs in error, and demanded that the same should be audited and certified to the town clerk in order that provision might be made for the payment thereof according to the township organization and revenue laws of the state. The board allowed the sum of $871.78, but refused to audit the remainder, amounting to $2,516.85, so that he was unable to obtain the necessary levy and collection of taxes for the purpose of satisfying it. Whereupon Marcy filed a petition for a mandamus against the board.

The board, in their answer, admitting the issue and validity of the bonds and the rendition of the judgment upon the coupons, set up that said bonds were registered at the office of the Auditor of Public Accounts of the state, and that each of them and of the coupons thereto attached was payable at the office of the state treasurer, under and by virtue of an act entitled "An Act to fund and provide for paying the railroad debts of counties, townships, cities, and towns," in force April 16, 1869, and that the mode of collecting the bonds and coupons, or the judgment rendered thereon, was fully and solely prescribed by the provisions of that act.

Page 91 U. S. 538

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