City of Phoenix v. Mori

In City of Phoenix v. Mori, 182 Ariz. 612, 898 P.2d 990 (App. 1995), the Court held that unless a condemnee had obstructed the proceedings or acted in bad faith, or had "refused the condemnor's offer, forced the case unnecessarily to trial, and achieved a verdict no higher than the offer," a court does not have the discretion to award a property owner less than all the taxable costs he had reasonably incurred if he obtained a verdict greater than the offer; nor could the court tax the owner with any portion of the condemnor's costs. Id. at 615, 898 P.2d at 993. Although the statute on its face did not "define the limits" of a court's discretion, we explained that our territorial legislature had adopted the statute verbatim from California several years after the California Supreme Court in San Francisco v. Collins, 98 Cal. 259, 33 P. 56 (1893), had interpreted that state's constitutional eminent domain provision, which required the payment of just compensation, as limiting the discretion granted to a trial court to allocate costs against condemnees; "to require the condemnees . . . to pay any portion of their costs necessarily incidental to the trial of the issues on their part, or any part of the costs of the condemnor, would reduce the just compensation awarded by the jury." Mori, 182 Ariz. at 614. Because there was no inconsistency between Collins and this state's policy of just compensation, the Court found Collins to be a "reliable guidepost" to the meaning of the Arizona statute. Collins gave contemporaneous meaning to the California statute our territorial legislature had copied, thus giving rise to a presumption that the legislature had adopted the California statute with the construction placed on it by Collins. The Court also observed that in the years since statehood, the legislature had not found it "desirable" to revise the statute. Id. at 614, 898 P.2d at 992.