Idaho Appellate Court on Effect of Land Patents~Unpublished.
C. The Effect of a Land Patent
Finally, the Beuses assert several errors with respect to the district court's order of foreclosure on their real property, all of which appear to be rooted in, or at least related to, their assertion that the district court did not have the power to foreclose on their property because the property had been granted to the Beuses' predecessor in interest via a federal land patent or because the Beuses themselves filed a "Declaration of Land Patent" on the property after they acquired it in 1983. Because the land patent argument was raised in the motion to set aside the default judgment as a meritorious defense in satisfaction of the requirement that such motions contain meritorious defenses, we consider it and its related sub-arguments to be raised on appeal for that purpose as well. Our conclusion regarding the merits of the land patent-related arguments would be the same, however, if they were evaluated as proposed grounds for satisfying one of the Rule 60(b)(1) bases.
We first take up the Beuses' primary land patent assertion—that the district court was without authority to foreclose on their real property because the property had originally been placed into private ownership via a federal land patent. Black's Law Dictionary defines a land patent as "[a]n instrument by which the government conveys a grant of public land to a private person." BLACK'S LAW DICTIONARY 1156 (8th ed. 2004). See also Van Zelst v. C.I.R., 100 F.3d 1259, 1261 (7th Cir. 1996) ("A 201eland patent' is equivalent to fee simple ownership."); Beres v. United States, 64 Fed. Cl. 403, 417 (Fed. Cl. 2005) ("[W]hen a patent issues . . . all title and control of the land passes from the United States." [quoting Swendig v. Wash. Water Power Co., 265 U.S. 322, 331 (1924)]). Contrary to the Beuses' assertion, the fact that one receives title from the federal government via a federal land patent does not render the property immune from foreclosure by a state court under state law. While the cases that the Beuses cite to the contrary address the validity of title granted through federal land patents, see e.g. Langdon v. Sherwood, 124 U.S. 74, 82-85 (1888); Beard v. Federy, 70 U.S. 478, 479 (1865), they do not state that possessors of such title cannot have it seized from them in a state court through foreclosure or other appropriate legal channels. The original source of title does not change the fact that property conveyed through that title is subject to the same laws and regulations as any other property, see Virgin v. County of San Luis Obispo, 201 F.3d 1141, 1144 (9th Cir. 2000) ("[P]roperty received through federal land patents is subject to state and local regulations."), or that state courts are a proper forum for the enforcement of said laws and regulations. Oneida Indian Nation of N.Y. State v. County of Oneida, New York, 414 U.S. 661, 676 (1974) ("Once patent issues, the incidents of ownership are, for the most part, matters of local property law to be vindicated in local courts . . . ."); see also Landi v. Phelps, 740 F.2d 710, 713-14 (9th Cir. 1984).
To the extent the Beuses argue the foreclosure was improper because the United States should have been joined as an indispensible party, that assertion is also incorrect. Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 19(a)(1) provides a party shall be joined if:
(1) in the person's absence complete relief cannot be accorded among those already parties, or (2) the person claims an interest relating to the subject of the action and is so situated that the disposition of the action in the person's absence may (i) as a practical matter impair or impede the person's ability to protect that interest or (ii) leave any of the persons already parties subject to a substantial risk of incurring double, multiple, or otherwise inconsistent obligations by reason of the claimed interest. "[J]oinder of all parties with an interest in the subject matter of the suit is not required; rather, only those who have an interest in the object of the suit should be joined." Tower Asset Sub Inc. v. Lawrence, 143 Idaho 710, 714, 152 P.3d 581, 585 (2007). The Beuses did not move to have the United States joined as a party and they did not raise the issue in their motion to set aside. Furthermore, they fail to argue how the United States satisfied the Rule 19(a)(1) requirements and instead cite to cases from federal jurisdictions that discuss situations highly distinguishable from the situation at hand. Regardless, having held or conveyed title to property does not imbue one with a continued interest in that property. Here, the United States was no more an indispensible party than was the person who had conveyed the property to the Beuses or than the Beuses would be if, years later, the property came under different ownership and was the subject of other, unrelated, litigation.
Next, the Beuses claim that the property was insulated from foreclosure to satisfy a tax lien because they had filed a "Declaration of Land Patent" on the property in 1999 and therefore the district court did not have jurisdiction to entertain the foreclosure proceedings. Their position is fallacious. See, e.g., State of Wisconsin v. Glick, 782 F.2d 670 (7th Cir. 1986); Hilgeford v. Peoples Bank, Portland, Indiana, 607 F. Supp. 536, 536-39 (N.D. Ind. 1985); Britt v. Fed. Land Bank Ass'n of St. Louis, 505 N.E.2d 387 (Ill. App. Ct. 1987); Fed. Land Bank of Spokane v. Redwine, 755 P.2d 822 (Wash. Ct. App. 1988).
The Beuses also briefly assert two additional arguments in their discussion of the land patents and the court's ability to foreclose on their real property. These arguments appear to be that the Beuses' position is supported by the Idaho Code definition of a "public land survey corner" and that they have color of title to the real property because the property was given to them through a warranty deed from their predecessor in interest. It is unclear how either of these assertions are supposed to advance the Beuses' arguments on appeal, and they do not alter our conclusion here. Idaho State Tax Commission v. William, Idaho: Court of Appeals 2009
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