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NEW MEXICO V. TEXAS, 275 U. S. 279 (1927)

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U.S. Supreme Court

New Mexico v. Texas, 275 U.S. 279 (1927)

New Mexico v. Texas

No. 2, Original

Argued December 2, 1924

Decided December 5, 1927

275 U.S. 279


1. A copy of memoranda and field notes of a survey of part of the boundary between Mexico and Texas, made in 1852 by a Mexican engineer by order of the Mexican Member of the Joint Boundary Commission, under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, was admissible in evidence upon authentication by the Mexican Boundary Commissioner having custody of the original. P. 275 U. S. 296.

2. A motion, by the party who produced it, to strike out an authenticated copy, accompanied by evidence adduced to prove that the party had been mistaken in believing that there was any original in the place from which the authentication was made, comes too late when deferred until the day when the taking of testimony is closed by mutual agreement, two years after the copy was introduced by the opposite party and treated by both sides as evidence in the case. P. 275 U. S. 297.

3. The New Mexico-Texas boundary, in the area involved in this suit, is the middle of the main channel of the Rio Grande, as that river chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 275 U. S. 280

flowed in 1850, extending southwardly from the 32d parallel of North Latitude to the parallel of 31 degrees, 47 minutes in the course and location found and described in Section V(1) of the report of the Special Master in this case; the intersection of the east bank of the river with the 32d parallel is to be taken at a point 600 feet west from Monument No. 1 of Clark's Survey on that parallel made in and after 1859 in locating the Texas-United States boundary, as said monument No. 1 was reestablished by Joint Commissioners of the United States and Texas, appointed pursuant to a Joint Resolution of Congress passed in February, 1911, and the middle line of the channel is to be taken 150 feet from the east and west banks of the river respectively, as found by the Special Master. P. 275 U. S. 303.

In arriving at this conclusion, the Court finds and decides as follows:

4. That the testimony of ancient witnesses called by New Mexico as to their recollection of the old river is far from satisfactory, and does not, in view of the other evidence, sustain the burden resting on New Mexico of proving her claim that the location was farther east than the one claimed by Texas and found in this case. P. 275 U. S. 300.

5. That the greater weight of the evidence shows that Clark's Monument No. 1 did not coincide with his Station 1, but was located at least 2783 feet west thereof, substantially as reestablished by the Joint Commission of the United States and Texas above mentioned. P. 275 U. S. 300.

6. That under the Joint Resolutions of February and August, 1911, preceding and conditioning the admission of New Mexico as a state, she is bound by the reestablishment of the Monument by the Commission, and cannot question its accuracy. Id.

7. That this necessarily extends the Clark boundary line along the 32d parallel to the east bank of the river at a point 600 feet west of the reestablished Monument. Id.

8. That, according to the greater weight of the evidence, the river, in 1850, ran, as shown by certain surveys, patents, and maps relied on by Texas, on the course and in the location set forth and described in the Special Master's report. Id.

9. That this conclusion is reinforced by the tacit and long-continued acquiescence of the United States, while New Mexico was a Territory, in the claims of those holding the land in controversy under Texas surveys and patents, and the undisturbed possession of the Texas claimants. Id. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 275 U. S. 281

10. New Mexico, having explicitly declared in her Constitution of 1912 that her boundary between parallels of 32 and 314' followed the main channel of the Rio Grande as it existed on the ninth day of September, 1850, and this having been confirmed by the United States by admitting her as a state with the line thus described as her boundary, and also approved by Texas in her pleadings, New Mexico cannot question this limitation of her boundary and lay claim to lands east of that line because of changes in the river course since 1850, due to the process of accretion. P. 275 U. S. 302.

This suit was brought in this Court by the State of New Mexico to settle a controversy over a portion of the boundary between that state and the State of Texas. After argument on final hearing, the case was referred to a Special Master, 266 U.S. 586. The present decision is on exceptions taken by both parties to the Master's report. The exceptions of New Mexico are overruled, and those of Texas sustained. The bill is dismissed, and a decree ordered under the cross bill.

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