Londoner v. Denver

210 U.S. 373, 28 S. Ct. 708, 52 L.Ed. 1103 (1908)

Facts

Plaintiffs wanted to not be taxed on their land for the cost of paving a street upon which the land was adjacent. The tax gave the city of Denver the power to make local improvements and then assess the value of the improvement to adjacent land. The state Supreme Court decided for the city of Denver.

Rule

The board of public works must transmit a resolution ordering the work to be done. Then the passage of the ordinance must be reviewed by the city council who will ensure whether the work was done. Then there is assessment “of the cost upon the landowners after due notice and opportunity for hearing.”

Issue

Whether the city gave the landowner due process by notice of the assessment.

Holding

No, assessment void. Due process of law requires that before a tax be levied, the taxpayer can be heard. The taxpayer must have notice (either personal or by publication or by law noting the time and place of a hearing) of the tax. Something more than the ability to submit complaints is required to satisfy due process in this case. Here, the Plaintiff was denied the right to be heard – “the right to support his allegations by argument, however brief, and if need be, by proof, however informal.”

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