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Quilici v. Strosnider

April 1911

M. QUILICI, APPELLANT, V. I. A. STROSNIDER, C. T. MARTIN AND M. J. KING, AS THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF LYON COUNTY, RESPONDENTS.


Appeal from the District Court of the First Judicial District of the State of Nevada, Lyon County; L. A. French, Judge, presiding.

Mark Walser and Geo. L. Sanford, for Appellant.

John Lothrop, District Attorney, and Huskey & Springer, for Respondents.

Per Curiam:

Appellant here, as plaintiff in the district court, filed a complaint alleging that the defendants, as the county commissioners of Lyon County, were about to remove the county-seat from Dayton to Yerington, under the provisions of an act passed at the last session of the legislature, which provides that after the 1st day of May, 1911, the county-seat of Lyon County shall be located at the city of Yerington, that the county officers shall remove and keep their offices at the city of Yerington, and that the county commissioners shall provide for the removal from Dayton to Yerington of the archives and other movable property belonging to the county, and sell any immovable property belonging to Lyon County in the town of Dayton.

The complaint states that the plaintiff is a resident, taxpayer, and owner of property in the town of Dayton;

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that the removal of the archives of the county, if not restrained by order of the court, will greatly depreciate the value of property there and greatly increase the tax rate in Lyon County; that, unless restrained, the respondents will carry out the proposed intention and remove the records and archives from the town of Dayton to the city of Yerington. It is alleged that the act of the legislature mentioned is void; that it is in conflict with section 20 of article 4 of the constitution of the State of Nevada, which provides that the legislature shall not pass local or special laws except in certain enumerated cases, and that it is in conflict with section 21 of article 4 of the constitution, which provides that “in all cases enumerated in the preceding section, and in all other cases where a general law can be made applicable, all laws shall be general and of uniform application throughout the state.” After trial, the district court found that the defendants, constituting the board of county commissioners, intend to remove the archives and personal property of the county from Dayton to the city of Yerington and to sell the real property located at Dayton, as directed by the act of the legislature, and that the defendants were entitled to judgment denying the injunction prayed for and dissolving the preliminary restraining order granted.

It is urged that the special act providing for the removal of the county-seat of Lyon County is unconstitutional and void because a general law can be made to apply, and because the general act of 1877 (Stats. 1877, c. 84) providing for the removal of county-seats by the majority of the voters at an election called on the petition of three-fifths of the taxpayers who are electors is applicable to that county. Since the passage of this general statute, and during the time it has been in force, a number of county-seats have been removed under special acts of the legislature, and it has been the rule to so remove them for forty years. The earlier of these special acts, changing the county-seat of Washoe County from Washoe to Reno, and the county-seat of Humboldt County from Unionville to

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Winnemucca, were tested, and the removal of them sustained by this court. Later special acts removing the county-seat of White Pine County from Hamilton to Ely, of Churchill County from Stillwater to Fallon, of Nye County from Belmont to Tonopah, and of Esmeralda County from Hawthorne to Goldfield, do not appear to have been resisted in the courts. The act now sought to be overthrown, relating to Lyon County, and all these acts, with the exception of changes in dates and places, are substantially copies of each other, and of the ones removing the county-seats in Washoe and Humboldt Counties, which were sustained by this court.

It was held in State v. Irwin, 5 Nev. 111, that the special act of 1869 (Stats. 1869, c. 60), creating White Pine County, was not unconstitutional, and, as in many decisions by this and other courts, that in all cases of doubt every presumption and intendment will be made in favor of the constitutionality of the act of the legislature. It was said in the opinion: “Hardly any case could be found or imagined where a general law could not be framed which would, in default of one special, answer some part of the purpose intended to be accomplished by legislation. But would such a general law be applicable is always the question. A law, to be applicable in the sense in which the words are evidently used, and their only proper sense in such connection, must answer the just purposes of legislation; that is, best subserve the interests of the people of the state, or such class or portion as the particular legislation is intended to affect. A general law could undoubtedly be passed regulating the organization of new counties, but it would be exceedingly difficult, if not impossible, to make such law applicable.”

In the case sustaining the special act removing the county-seat of Washoe County from Washoe to Reno (Hess v. Pegg, 7 Nev. 22), it was held that the legislature had no authority to enact a local or special law when a general one can be made applicable; that the decision as to whether a general law may be made applicable, although primarily in the legislature and presumptively correct, is

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subject to review by the courts; that where, notwithstanding the existence of a general statute in relation to the removal of county-seats, the legislature passed a special act for the removal of a particular county-seat, the presumption was that the general act was not and could not be made applicable; and that the legislature has complete control of the ...


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