14 So.2d 229 (Ala. 1943), 8 Div. 252, Lash v. State

Docket Nº:8 Div. 252.
Citation:14 So.2d 229, 244 Ala. 48
Opinion Judge:THOMAS, Justice.
Party Name:LASH v. STATE.
Attorney:Jos. A. Padway, of Washington, D.C., and Merwin T. Koonce and A. A. Williams, both of Florence, for appellant., Wm. N. McQueen, Acting Atty. Gen., and L. S. Moore, Asst. Atty. Gen., for the State.
Case Date:February 24, 1943
Court:Supreme Court of Alabama
 
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Page 229

14 So.2d 229 (Ala. 1943)

244 Ala. 48

LASH

v.

STATE.

8 Div. 252.

Supreme Court of Alabama

February 24, 1943

Page 230

Response to certified question.

Question certified by the Court of Appeals to the Supreme Court under Code 1940, Tit. 13, § 88.

Question answered.

[244 Ala. 50] To the Supreme Court of Alabama:

There is pending in our Court an appeal styled as above, wherein it was charged against appellant in the proper way, that he violated the terms of Code 1940, Title 14, Sec. 54.

Said Code section, omitting, as unimportant, the title, is in the following language, to wit: "Two or more persons who, without a just cause or legal excuse for so doing, enter into any combination, conspiracy, agreement, arrangement, or understanding for the purpose of hindering, delaying, or preventing any other persons, firms, corporation, or association of persons from carrying on any lawful business, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor."

It is sufficient that we say that the case was tried by the court, sitting without a jury, and that there was ample evidence to support the judgment finding appellant guilty.

The sole question on this appeal is as to whether or not the section of the Code quoted in the beginning of this certification is in violation of either the Constitution of Alabama or the Constitution of the United States-and hence void.

This question was properly raised in the court below, and decided against appellant's contentions. If this decision was correct, the judgment should be affirmed. If it was incorrect, it should be reversed, and a judgment here rendered discharging appellant from custody.

Being of the opinion that said Code section is subject to the same vice as the section of the Code of 1923 held void by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Thornhill v. State, 310 U.S. 88, 60 S.Ct. 736, 84 L.Ed. 1093, but being without authority to declare same unconstitutional, we hereby certify the question to you:

Is or not Section 54 of Title 14 of the Code of 1940 invalid because in violation of any provision of the Constitution of Alabama or of the Constitution of the United States?

For your convenience the record submitted here in the appeal in question is handed to you with this. (Code 1940, Tit. 13, Sec. 87(?).

Very respectfully,

C. R. Bricken, Presiding Judge.

-------------------

James Rice, Associate Judge.

-------------------

R. T. Simpson, Jr., Associate Judge.

-------------------

Dated this the 20th day of February, 1943.

Jos. A. Padway, of Washington, D.C., and Merwin T. Koonce and A. A. Williams, both of Florence, for appellant.

Wm. N. McQueen, Acting Atty. Gen., and L. S. Moore, Asst. Atty. Gen., for the State.

[244 Ala. 52] THOMAS, Justice.

The Court of Appeals, under provisions of Code 1940, T. 13, § 88, submits to this court the question of whether or not Section 54, Title 14, Code 1940, is in violation

Page 231

of the Constitutions of the State of Alabama or of the United States.

In submission to this Court, the Court of Appeals recites that it is of opinion that said section is subject to the same vice as section 3447 of the Code of 1923, held void by the Supreme Court of the United States in Thornhill v. State, 310 U.S. 88, 60 S.Ct. 736, 84 L.Ed. 1093.

The statute in question was incorporated in Michie's Code of 1928 as § 3447, and came from the Acts of 1921, p. 31, § 1. The section is now codified as Code 1940, T. 14, § 54, and was approved by this court in Bankers' Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Sloss et al., 229 Ala. 26, 155 So. 371 (as applying to illegal voting trusts). See also, Royal Ins. Co. Ltd., v. All States Theatres, Inc., 242 Ala. 417, 6 So.2d 447. The criminal case of Welch v. State, 28 Ala.App. 273, 183 So. 879, adverted to §§ 3447 and 3448 of the Code of 1923. The many authorities are collected in Standard Chemical & Oil Co. v. City of Troy, 201 Ala. 89, 91, 77 So. 383, L.R.A.1918C, 522, and in State v. Goldstein, 207 Ala. 569, 93 So. 308, on police power. What is the effect of the statute in question, tested by the provisions of the Constitutions of the United States and of this State, as interpreted by the Supreme Court of the United States, as challenged by demurrer?

Several questions have been considered by the state and federal courts, to the effect that the phrase, "without a just cause or legal excuse for so doing," as employed by the statute before us and as employed in the affidavit in the case of Lash v. State, 14 So.2d 235, in the Court of Appeals, is not without meaning legally, inherently and historically and means an unlawful act or purpose or without legal excuse. Moreland Theatres Corp. v. Portland Moving Picture Machine Operators' Protective Union, etc., and Granada Theatre Corp. v. Portland Moving Picture Machine Operators' Protective Union, 140 Or. 35, 12 P.2d 333; Schwind v. Gibson et al., 220 Iowa 377, 260 N.W. 853; Swan v. Dailey-Luce Auto Co. et al., 221 Iowa 842, 265 N.W. 143, 148; State v. Caldwell, Mo.Sup., 231 S.W. 613; State ex rel. Nelson v. Henry, 221 Wis. 127, 266 N.W. 227; In re Municipal Garage in and for City of Utica, 141 Misc. 15, 252 N.Y.S. 18; People v. Wallach, 62 Cal.App. 385, 217 P. 81; State v. Wholfort, 123 Kan. 62, 254 P. 317; State v. Williams, 166 S.C. 63, 164 S.E. 415; Gentry v. Gentry, 161 Va. 786, 172 S.E. 157; State v. Donzi, 133 La. 925, 63 So. 405; State v. Baker, 112 La. 801, 36 So. 703.

To a right decision of the question before us, it will be noted that, this expression used in the complaint or affidavit in this cause and appearing in the statute means "unlawfully." Bankers' Fire & Marine Ins. Co. v. Sloss et al., 229 Ala. 26, 155 So. 371; and the authorities supra.

In Greek-American Produce Co. v. Illinois Central R. Co., 4 Ala.App. 377, 58 So. 994, 995, Mr. Justice De Graffenried, for that court, on authority of United States v. Kirby, 7 Wall. 482, 19 L.Ed. 278, said: " 'All laws should receive a sensible construction. General terms should be so limited in their application as not to lead to injustice, oppression, or an absurd consequence. It is always to be presumed that the Legislature intended exceptions to its language which would avoid results of this character. The reason of the law in such cases should prevail over its letter. The common sense of man approves the judgment mentioned by Puffendorf, that the Bolognian law, which enacted "that whoever drew blood in the streets should be punished with the utmost severity," [244 Ala. 53] did not extend to the surgeon, who opened the vein of a person that fell down in the street in a fit."'

To this end this court has declared that in construing statutes, each section, paragraph and clause thereof must be construed as...

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