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Columbia Heights Realty Co. v. Rudolph, 217 U.S. 547 (1910)

Columbia Heights Realty Co. v. Rudolph

No. 157

Argued April 12, 13, 1910

Decided May 16, 1910

217 U.S. 547


Under the Act of February 9, 1893, c. 74, § 8, 27 Stat. 436, appeals from and writs of error to the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia are governed by § 705, Rev.Stat., as to procedure, and by §§ 997 and 1012, Rev.Stat., as to filing the transcript and assignment of error as from a Circuit Court.

Rule 35 refers in terms only to writs of error and appeals under §.5 of the Court of Appeals Act of March 3, 1891, but, by Rule 21, it is in effect extended to every writ of error and appeal, and although errors may not be assigned on a writ of error to the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia, the court is not under obligation to dismiss the writ in case the assignment of errors is not filed as required by §§ 997 and 1012, Rev.Stat., having by its rules reserved the option to notice plain error whether assigned or not.

In this case, the court exercises the option reserved under Rules 3. and 21 to examine the record to ascertain if there are errors not assigned as required by §§ 997, 1012, Rev.Stat., but so plain as to demand correction.

Under the complete jurisdiction which the United States exercises over the District of Columbia, it is within the power of Congress to arbitrarily fix a minimum amount to be assessed for benefits on property within the assessment district of a street opening proceeding, and so held as to Act of June 6, 1900, c. 810, 31 Stat. 668, as to the opening of extension of Eleventh Street.

Where Congress passes an act superseding a former act in regard to condemnation proceedings and providing for a reassessment of benefits, the reassessment is a continuance of the proceeding under the former act, and not a new proceeding, and the assessment for

Page 217 U. S. 548

benefits is not barred by the statute of limitations if the proceeding was commenced in time under the original act.

Objections to qualifications of jurors and their examination and oath in condemnation proceedings must be taken at the time.

That counsel was not present when they were accepted and sworn does not invalidate the impaneling of the jury if the statute does not so provide.

On condemnation proceedings where the statute directs the court to follow the procedure prescribed for other proceedings, the court will properly vary the oath so as to relate to the property involved, and not to the property in the other proceedings, and if the bill of exceptions does not show that the essential matters were omitted from the oath, the presumption is that the statutory oath was complied with as far as applicable to the proceeding in which it was administered.

Where a verdict of damages and benefits is set aside as to benefits and a reassessment ordered, the remainder of the verdict as to damages alone does not stand as res judicata that the property is damaged and there are no benefits that can be assessed under a subsequent act as to procedure for reassessment of benefits.

Where doubt as to meaning of one part of the charge is eliminated by other parts of the charge, there is no reversible error.

Where the jury in a condemnation proceeding exercises its own judgment derived from personal knowledge from viewing the premises and from expert opinion evidence not taken in presence of the court, the power of the court to review the award is limited to plain errors of law, misconduct or grave error of fact indicating partiality or corruption, and the court is not required to review all the evidence taken before the jury in order to determine whether the award is unreasonable or unjust where no specific wrong or injustice is pointed out.

Where the evidence in a condemnation proceeding is not before this Court and there is no agreed statement of facts, this Court cannot determine that the trial court erred in holding the award of the jury made on viewing the premises and expert evidence not so unreasonable or unjust as to require a new trial before another jury.

31 App.D.C. 112 affirmed.

The facts are stated in the opinion.

Page 217 U. S. 549

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