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Floyd v. Board of Ada County Commissioners

Supreme Court of Idaho

January 29, 2019

JAMES ALLEN FLOYD, Petitioner-Appellant,

          Appeal from the District Court of the Fourth Judicial District of the State of Idaho, Ada County. Hon. Richard D. Greenwood, District Judge.

         The district court's judgment is affirmed.

          James A. Floyd, Boise, appellant pro se.

          Jan M. Bennetts, Ada County Prosecuting Attorney, Boise, for respondent.


          BRODY, Justice.

         This appeal arises from the Ada County Board of Commissioners' decision to direct issuance of a tax deed. The property owner, James Allen Floyd, was incarcerated in the county jail throughout the proceedings, and alleges that he never received official notice of the pending tax deed until a month before his hearing. Despite having his jail address on file, the County Treasurer delivered statutory notices to Floyd's vacant home. However, she also sent Floyd letters at the jail apprising him of the tax deed proceedings and delinquent taxes owed. The Board of Commissioners determined that Floyd received sufficient due process, and directed the tax deed to issue. The district court affirmed, holding that Floyd had actual notice despite the Treasurer's failure to comply with statutory notice requirements. We now affirm the district court's determination because Floyd had actual notice of the pending tax deed.


         James Allen Floyd owned a home located at 9180 W. Yaryan Drive in Boise, Idaho. The taxes on the home were unpaid for 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.

         On August 15, 2014, Floyd was arrested on a criminal matter and remained incarcerated in the Ada County jail for several months. On October 9, 2014, the Treasurer sent a reminder letter of the 2011 taxes due to Floyd at the jail. She also added Floyd's jail address to the county records, so that future correspondence would be sent there. Floyd wrote back, "I do not dispute the taxes owed and I'm fully willing to pay them." On October 16 and 21, the Treasurer sent Floyd additional letters to his jail address explaining that his hardship application had been denied, and reminding him of the delinquent amount owed, and the need for full payment by March 19, 2015, to halt the tax deed process. She also sent a tax history printout and a request for Floyd to contact her on his release from jail. He then began sending out letters to various churches and charities in the hopes one would pay his taxes anonymously.

         Over the next several weeks, the Treasurer mailed official notices of the pending tax deed to the Yaryan Drive address while Floyd remained incarcerated at the county jail. As the undeliverable mail was returned to the Treasurer's office, the clerk used a stamp-which said "paid" and had the date-to show when the returned mail arrived at the Treasurer's office. Floyd continued his correspondence with the Treasurer. On January 10, 2015, Floyd informed the Treasurer that his tenants would pay the taxes by the March deadline. Alternatively, he proposed that Ada County forgive the delinquent taxes in exchange for his dismissal of a lawsuit against the Ada County jail. In that same letter, Floyd also reminded the Treasurer that he had yet to receive notice of the pending tax deed by registered mail, as required by statute.

         On February 10, 2015, a sheriff's deputy hand-delivered three envelopes to Floyd at the jail, with two containing notices of the pending tax deed, each dated from October 27, 2014. On the backs of the notices were postal tags indicating they were undeliverable and returned to the County Treasurer's office. In addition, the October notices were stamped "PAID" with the date "November 20, 2014" on the upper right hand corner. Floyd claims these were the first official notices of the pending tax deed to reach him at the county jail.

         Floyd immediately contested the tax deed, arguing that because the notices had a "paid" stamp on them, the taxes must have been paid, whether by the churches he wrote to or from another anonymous payor. Floyd wrote that he was confused over why he would have to pay $2, 909.57 by March 19.

         Ten days after the hand-delivery, Floyd received another letter from the deputy treasurer stating: "The payment that was made last year on 11/20/14, was for payment of delinquent 2010 Taxes." However, as Floyd noted in his response letter, the tax history shows that the 2010 taxes were paid, not delinquent. The Treasurer later wrote to Floyd to explain that the last tax payment came in May 2014 and was applied to the 2011 delinquent taxes. The mistake in the deputy treasurer's recent letter, she explained, was simply an office oversight. She also explained that no taxes were paid on November 20, 2014; the notices were simply stamped that way when they were returned by the postal service.

         The Ada County Board of Commissioners held the tax deed hearing on March 19, 2015. Floyd requested to attend or have counsel appointed, but neither the Board nor the sheriff's department arranged to transport Floyd to the hearing. Floyd submitted a seven page letter and several exhibits to the Board, in addition to a grievance for being denied transport to the hearing. The Board then gave the documents to the Treasurer and prosecuting attorney. The sheriff's deputy also informed Floyd he could arrange to participate in the hearing over the phone.

         At the hearing, the prosecuting attorney introduced Floyd's letter and exhibits to the Board, stating: "Pursuant to Idaho Code 63-1006, I recommend that you consider the correspondence letters and exhibits from Mr. Floyd as an appearance or answer in this matter." The Treasurer then presented evidence to the Board, including the tax history records, notice mailings, and an explanation that the "paid" stamp on the back of the returned envelopes was used as a date stamp and that the taxes had not actually been paid.

         On March 24, 2015, the Board issued its final decision, ultimately determining that Floyd received proper notice pursuant to Idaho Code section 63-1005, and that the 2011 delinquent taxes on the Yaryan property remained unpaid. The Board then directed the county tax collector to issue the tax deed on the Yaryan property in favor of Ada County. A month later, on April 24, 2015, Floyd submitted a Petition for Judicial Review and Initial Complaint to the Board. Floyd also filed an objection to the Agency Record, claiming several deficiencies and errors, which prompted the Board to file a supplemental record. The supplemental record added the Board's meeting agendas, the Treasurer's Affidavit of Compliance, Floyd's letter asking about the office error over the 2010 taxes, and a letter from the Treasurer explaining the earlier office error and Floyd's still unpaid taxes for 2011-2014.

         On August 26, 2015 Floyd filed his petition and complaint with the district court. The Board then filed a motion to dismiss Floyd's Petition for Judicial Review and Initial Complaint, which the district court granted and denied in part. It dismissed Floyd's complaint without prejudice, but permitted Floyd's Petition for Judicial Review to move forward. The parties appeared and argued before the district court on July 17, 2017, with Floyd representing ...

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