The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 384
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
vested property rights to have the waters of the river continue to flow in
their accustomed channel?"39A related question throughout the trials,
the appeals, and again before the Supreme Court was the issue of taking
without compensation by the San Antonio River Authority. On the first
question, the majority of the court concluded that provisions in Spanish
law, such as those cited from the Siete Partidas, manifested a clear pur-
pose to protect the use of water of a stream from the accustomed chan-
nel against diversion by others: "It hardly seems reasonable to say that
the sovereign reserved the right to do the very thing which the law so
carefully prohibited others from doing."40
The opinion turned to the issue of taking. Prior to responding, the
court made note of the fact that the original grantees of 1824, such as
Francisco Maynes, had paid for their rights to obtain and use the water,
at which point they were at liberty to sell or to mortgage these early
rights. The court reasoned that if these rights were to hold their value,
the waters of the river must be allowed to flow in their accustomed chan-
nel: "To hold that the right to change the river channel was reserved to
the sovereign would be to permit the sovereign to take or to destroy,
without compensation, rights which it had sold for compensation."41 In
affirming the judgment of the Fourth Court of Civil Appeals, the practi-
cal effect of the Texas Supreme Court's decision was to remand the
claims for damages to the trial court of Bexar County where the case had
originated four and a half years earlier. The San Antonio River Authority
filed a motion for rehearing, but the motion was denied on January 23,
1963. Although the SanJuan Acequia irrigators had won their case in the
highest court in Texas, attempts to establish damages and collect com-
pensation would continue to meet resistance by the river authority and
the parties met again three years later in the Texas Supreme Court.
In 1964 the individual cases stemming from SARA v. Dillon were sev-
ered from the class suit by an agreed order, a procedure that required
each landowner to prove damages in specific amounts as to each tract.
On the advice of legal counsel, the irrigators moved forward with only
two of the claims, holding back the other cases on the docket of the trial
court in order to conserve time and financial resources. The first lawsuit
selected for jury trial in District Court was that of Curtis R. Hunt in
September 1964, followed in January 1965 by a second claim against the
SARA filed earlier by G. Garrett Lewis.42
" SARA v. Lewis, 448.
" Ibid., 449-
4 Ibid., 449.
42 Ralph G. Langley, "To All Plaintiffs with Lawsuits Pending Against SARA Involving San Juan
Ditch," Nov. 4, 1965, letter, San Juan Acequla folder (SACSLA).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/m1/452/: accessed June 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.