347 N.W.2d 882 (S.D. 1984), 14269, Petition of Famous Brands, Inc.

Docket Nº14269.
Citation347 N.W.2d 882
Opinion JudgeThe opinion of the court was delivered by: Hoyt
Party NameIn the Matter of the Petition of FAMOUS BRANDS, INC. to Obtain a Declaratory Ruling.
AttorneyJeremiah D. Murphy, John R. Mcdowell and Thomas J. Welk of Boyce, Murphy, Mcdowell & Greenfield, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Attorneys for Intervenors-Appellees.
Case DateApril 25, 1984
CourtSupreme Court of South Dakota

Page 882

347 N.W.2d 882 (S.D. 1984)

In the Matter of the Petition of FAMOUS BRANDS, INC. to Obtain a Declaratory Ruling.

No. 14269.

Supreme Court of South Dakota.

April 25, 1984

Considered on Briefs Feb. 16, 1984.

Page 883

Jeremiah D. Murphy, John R. McDowell and Thomas J. Welk of Boyce, Murphy, McDowell & Greenfield, Sioux Falls, for intervenors-appellees.

William Taylor of Woods, Fuller, Shultz & Smith, P.C., Sioux Falls, for appellant.

HOYT, Circuit Judge.

This is an appeal from a judgment of the circuit court affirming the decision of the Secretary of Revenue (Secretary) that SDCL 35-4-5.1 and SDCL 35-4-5.5 precluded a renewal of a wholesale liquor license to Famous Brands, Inc. (appellant). We reverse.

The factual background of the controversy is refreshingly simple. Appellant filed a petition to obtain a declaratory ruling pursuant to SDCL 1-26-15 and ARSD 64:01:01:08 as to the applicability of SDCL 35-4-5.1 and SDCL 35-4-5.5 to the proposed renewal of the appellant's wholesale liquor license. SoDak Distributing Company and Sioux Falls Wholesale (Appellees/intervenors) petitioned for intervention, and on stipulation were admitted as parties.

Under the declaratory ruling procedure, the Secretary was to assume the following fact scenario:

Famous Brands, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Johnson Brothers Wholesale Liquor Company, an alcoholic beverage licensee in five other states. Famous Brands, Inc. holds two wholesale liquor licenses in South Dakota; one in Sioux Falls, and the other in Rapid City. Johnson Brothers Wholesale Liquor Company is the owner of 100 percent of the stock of the United Sales Distilling Company, a rectifier, with a plant located in the State of Minnesota. Products from this plant are sold in part to Famous Brands, Inc. in South Dakota.

During all of 1970, Famous Brands, Inc. was the holder of a South Dakota wholesale liquor license. In 1970, Famous Brands, Inc. was owned by Schenley Industries, a manufacturer, distiller, rectifier, importer, and wholesaler of alcohol and alcohol products.

With the foregoing assumed facts in place, the Secretary was asked to determine whether the appellant's liquor license would be renewable in light of the provisions of SDCL 35-4-5.1 and SDCL 35-4-5.5. 1

Page 884

The appellant also proposed a second question concerning the effect of a divesture, which is rendered moot by this decision. From an adverse declaratory ruling by the Secretary, the appellant appealed to circuit court. The circuit court determined the Secretary reached the right result but for the wrong reasons, and affirmed.

The issue before this court is the propriety of the circuit court's affirming the Secretary's determination that SDCL 35-4-5.1 and SDCL 35-4-5.5 did not permit the renewal of a wholesale liquor license to appellant.

The authority for, and the conduct of this court in reviewing on appeal the circuit court's judgment under South Dakota Administrative Procedures Act (SDCL 1-26) is well established. 2

The construction of a statute is a question of law. 3 Therefore, the decisions of the administrative agency and the circuit court are both fully reviewable. We give great weight to agency interpretation of a statute only when the agency charged with its administration is given express statutory authority to interpret a statute necessary for its efficient administration.

The statutes which we are called upon to apply to the facts as proposed are as follows:

SDCL 35-4-5.1 provides:

No manufacturer, rectifier, distiller, jobber or distributor of distilled spirits, or a copartner or a majority stockholder of a parent or subsidiary corporation directly or indirectly interested in any of them shall be granted a wholesale license, or be granted a renewal of such a license under this chapter.

SDCL 35-4-5.5 provides:

The provisions of SDCL 35-4-5.1, as to the granting of a wholesale license and the renewal thereof shall not apply to any individual, copartnership or corporation who or which on July 1, 1970 was the holder of a wholesaler's license.

While it may be elementary, it behooves us to acknowledge that as a result of constitutional provisions distributing the powers of government among three departments, the legislative, executive, and judicial, courts have no legislative authority, and should avoid judicial legislation, a usurpation of legislative powers, or any entry into the legislative field. Thus it has been said that whatever its opinion may be as to the wisdom of a statute or the necessity for further legislation, the duty of a court is to apply the law objectively as found, and not to revise it. 73 Am.Jur.2d, Statutes Sec. 179 (1974).

There are some rules of construction which are fundamental to this case. The purpose of rules regarding the construction of statutes is to discover the true intention of the law, and said intention is to be ascertained by the court primarily from the language expressed in the statute. State Theatre Co. v. Smith, 276 N.W.2d 259, 263 (S.D.1979); State v. Williamson,

Page 885

87 S.D. 512, 515, 211 N.W.2d 182, 183 (1973).

In applying legislative enactments, we must accept them as written. The legislative intent is determined from what the legislature said, rather than from what we or others think it should have said. Elk Point Ind. School Dist. No. 3 v. State Comm'n on Education and Secondary Education, 85 S.D. 600, 605, 187 N.W.2d 666, 669 (1971).

While it is fundamental that we must strive to ascertain the real intention of the lawmakers, it is equally fundamental that we must confine ourselves to the intention as expressed in the language used. Ex parte Brown, 21 S.D. 515, 519, 114 N.W. 303, 305 (1907). To violate the rule against supplying omitted language would be to add voluntarily unlimited hazard to the already inexact and uncertain business of searching for legislative intent. Boehrs v. Dewey County, 74 S.D. 75, 79, 48 N.W.2d 831, 834 (1951).

One of the primary rules of statutory and constitutional construction is to give words and phrases their plain meaning and effect. Board of Regents v. Carter, 89 S.D. 40, 46, 228 N.W.2d 621, 625 (1975). This court assumes that statutes mean what they say and that legislators have said...

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4 practice notes
  • STRAINING STATUTORY INTERPRETATION IN ARGUS LEADER V. HOGSTAD: WHY POORLY DRAFTED STATUTES SHOULD BE FIXED BY THE LEGISLATURE.
    • United States
    • South Dakota Law Review Vol. 63 Nbr. 3, January 2019
    • January 1, 2019
    ...(explaining the Supreme Court has enforced statutes that may result in unfortunate outcomes); see also Petition of Famous Brands, Inc., 347 N.W.2d 882, 884 (S.D. 1984) (citing Am. Jur. 2d, Statutes [section] 179 (1974)) (explaining that "whatever [the court's] opinion may be as to the wisdo......
  • The basics of legislative history in South Dakota.
    • United States
    • South Dakota Law Review Vol. 56 Nbr. 1, March 2011
    • March 22, 2011
    ...give legislation its plain meaning. We cannot amend to produce or avoid a particular result.'" Id. (quoting In re Famous Brands, Inc., 347 N.W.2d 882, 885 (S.D. 1984)). (14.) Jensen v. Turner County Bd. of Adjustment, 2007 SD 28, [paragraph] 5, 730 N.W.2d 411, 413. (15.) Elfring v. Paterson......
  • "WHAT'S IN A NAME ANYWAY?": REEVALUATING SOUTH DAKOTA'S CANNABIS STATUTORY SCHEME.
    • United States
    • South Dakota Law Review Vol. 63 Nbr. 1, March 2018
    • March 22, 2018
    ...is reasonably capable of being understood in more than one sense"). (94.) Lee, supra note 93, at 612. See also In re Famous Brands, Inc., 347 N.W.2d 882, 885 (S.D. 1984) (stating that "[t]hus it has been said that whatever its opinion may be as to the wisdom of a statute or the necessity fo......
  • May v. Spearfish Pellet Co., LLC., 093019 SDWC, 49, 2018/19
    • United States
    • Workers' Compensation Board South Dakota
    • September 30, 2019
    ...understood only by reasonably well-informed persons in either of two or more senses.” Petition of Famous Brands, Inc., 347 N.W.2d 882, 886 (S.D. 1984)(quoting National Amusement Co. v. Wisconsin Dep't of Taxation, 41 Wis.2d 261, 267, 163 N.W.2d 625, 628 (1969). Alte......
3 books & journal articles
  • STRAINING STATUTORY INTERPRETATION IN ARGUS LEADER V. HOGSTAD: WHY POORLY DRAFTED STATUTES SHOULD BE FIXED BY THE LEGISLATURE.
    • United States
    • South Dakota Law Review Vol. 63 Nbr. 3, January 2019
    • January 1, 2019
    ...(explaining the Supreme Court has enforced statutes that may result in unfortunate outcomes); see also Petition of Famous Brands, Inc., 347 N.W.2d 882, 884 (S.D. 1984) (citing Am. Jur. 2d, Statutes [section] 179 (1974)) (explaining that "whatever [the court's] opinion may be as to the ......
  • The basics of legislative history in South Dakota.
    • United States
    • South Dakota Law Review Vol. 56 Nbr. 1, March 2011
    • March 22, 2011
    ...legislation its plain meaning. We cannot amend to produce or avoid a particular result.'" Id. (quoting In re Famous Brands, Inc., 347 N.W.2d 882, 885 (S.D. 1984)). (14.) Jensen v. Turner County Bd. of Adjustment, 2007 SD 28, [paragraph] 5, 730 N.W.2d 411, 413. (15.) Elfring v. Paterson......
  • "WHAT'S IN A NAME ANYWAY?": REEVALUATING SOUTH DAKOTA'S CANNABIS STATUTORY SCHEME.
    • United States
    • South Dakota Law Review Vol. 63 Nbr. 1, March 2018
    • March 22, 2018
    ...capable of being understood in more than one sense"). (94.) Lee, supra note 93, at 612. See also In re Famous Brands, Inc., 347 N.W.2d 882, 885 (S.D. 1984) (stating that "[t]hus it has been said that whatever its opinion may be as to the wisdom of a statute or the necessity for fu......

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