153 So.2d 1 (Fla. 1963), 31906, McLaughlin v. State

Docket Nº:31906.
Citation:153 So.2d 1
Opinion Judge:Author: Caldwell
Party Name:Dewey McLAUGHLIN and Connie Hoffman also known as Connie Gonzalez, Appellants, v. STATE of Florida, Appellees.
Attorney:Robert Ramer, H. L. Braynon and G. E. Graves, Jr., Miami, for appellants.
Case Date:May 01, 1963
Court:Supreme Court of Florida
 
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153 So.2d 1 (Fla. 1963)

Dewey McLAUGHLIN and Connie Hoffman also known as Connie Gonzalez, Appellants,

v.

STATE of Florida, Appellees.

No. 31906.

Supreme Court of Florida.

May 1, 1963

Rehearing Denied May 30, 1963.

Robert Ramer, H. L. Braynon and G. E. Graves, Jr., Miami, for appellants.

Richard W. Ervin, Atty. Gen., and James G. Mahorner, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellees.

CALDWELL, Justice.

This cause is here on appeal from the Criminal Court of Record of Dade County. The trial court directly passed upon the validity of a State statute and we, therefore, have jurisdiction.

Defendants are charged with having violated Fla.Stat. § 798.05, F.S.A. 1 in that

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'the said Dewey McLaughlin, being a negro man, and the said Connie Hoffman, being a white woman, who were not married to each other did habitually live in and occupy in the nighttime the same room.' The defendants moved to quash the information on the ground that the aforesaid statute was in violation of the Federal and State Constitutions. The motions were denied. Defendants were than arraigned and entered pleas of not guilty. The jury trial terminated in a verdict of guilty, a sentence of thirty days in the county jail and a fine of $150 for each defendant.

The defendants contend they were denied equal protection of the laws because 'Firstly, the law provides a special criminal prohibition on cohabitation solely for persons who are of different races; or, secondly, if this special statute is equated with the general fornication statute, the higher penalties are imposed on the person whose races differ than would be applicable to persons of the same race who commit the same acts.'

In Pace v. Alabama, 2 the Supreme Court of the United States upheld an Alabama Statute 3 prohibiting interracial marriage, adultery or fornication, against the contention that it denied equal protection of the law. Another Alabama Statute 4 prohibited adultery or fornication between members of the same race but provided a less severe maximum penalty. The Supreme Court speaking through Mr. Justice Field held:

'Equality of protection under the laws implies not only accessibility by each one, whetever his race, on the same terms with others to the courts of the country for the security of his person and property, but that in the administration of criminal justice he shall not be subjected, for the same offense, to...

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