Anderson v. City of Birmingham

Decision Date21 April 1921
Docket Number6 Div. 289
Citation88 So. 900,205 Ala. 604
CourtAlabama Supreme Court

Appeal from Circuit Court, Jefferson County; H.P. Heflin, Judge.

David S. Anderson was convicted of practicing law without a license in violation of a city ordinance of the city of Birmingham and he appeals. Transferred from Court of Appeals under Acts 1911, p. 449, § 6. Affirmed.

Frank Dominick, of Birmingham, for appellant.

Fred G Moore and George Lewis Bailes, both of Birmingham, for appellee.


The appellant was convicted of practicing law in the city of Birmingham during 1919 without having a license therefor, in violation of city ordinance No. 607-C. There was no dispute as to the material facts, and the validity of appellant's conviction depends upon the construction and validity of the ordinance referred to.

The ordinance was one to prescribe and fix licenses for businesses, occupations, and professions in Birmingham for 1919, and provided that--

"Every person, firm, company, or corporation engaged in any of the businesses, vocations, occupations, or professions herein enumerated shall pay for and take out such licenses and in such sums, as are herein provided, to wit:
"15--A. Attorneys. Each person, or, where a partnership each member of firm, where gross annual business is less than $2,000 ...... $20.00." (Here follows a graduated schedule, according to annual business, rising to a license fee of $125.)

Section 15 of the ordinance makes it unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to engage in any of the enumerated businesses or vocations without first procuring a license therefor.

Appellant's contention is that, in so far as the schedule for attorneys is concerned, the ordinance is void for uncertainty; this for the reason that the amount of the license is based upon the gross annual business for the current year of 1919, which could not be ascertained until the end of the year.

While we recognize fully the general principle that statutes and ordinances which impose liabilities and provide for penalties and forfeitures must be strictly construed in favor of persons sought to be subjected to their operation, we are yet of the opinion that this ordinance, consistently with its language and purpose, cannot be given the construction insisted upon by appellant. It is true that in prescribing as a basis for the graduated license fees required of attorneys the amounts of their "gross annual business," that phrase is not expressly referable to the previous year; but neither is it expressly referable to the current year. To construe it as referable to the current year would...

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16 cases
  • Beeland Wholesale Co. v. Kaufman, 3 Div. 198
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • March 18, 1937
    ...156; Goldsmith v. Huntsville, 120 Ala. 182, 24 So. 509; Nachman et al. v. State Tax Commission (Ala.Sup.) 173 So. 25; Anderson v. Birmingham, 205 Ala. 604, 88 So. 900; Phelps v. Union Bank & Trust Co., supra. Whether so or not often said to depend upon the legislative intent manifested by i......
  • Roseberry v. Norsworthy
    • United States
    • Mississippi Supreme Court
    • June 9, 1924
    ...84 So. 907; State, etc., v. Grenada, etc., 85 So. 137; Sperry, etc., v. Harbison, 86 So. 455; Nolan v. Moore, 88 So. 601; Anderson v. City of Birmingham, 88 So. 900; Yarbrough, etc., v. Phillips, etc., 96 So. State, etc., v. Burchfield Bros., 99 So. 198; 2 Cooley on Taxation (4 Ed.), secs. ......
  • Smith v. State
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • May 31, 1983
    ...imposing penalties "must be strictly construed in favor of persons sought to be subjected to their operation", Anderson v. City of Birmingham, 205 Ala. 604, 605, 88 So. 900 (1921), and "in favor of life and liberty." 24B C.J.S. Criminal Law, Section 1979 (1962). "However, even penal laws ar......
  • Department of Indus. Relations v. West Boylston Mfg. Co.
    • United States
    • Alabama Supreme Court
    • October 6, 1949
    ... ... v. State Board of Adjustment, 234 Ala. 372, 175 So. 383; ... Davis v. City of Tuscumbia, 236 Ala. 552, 183 So ... 657; Smith v. Birmingham Realty Co., 208 Ala. 114, ... before the enactment of the law levying the tax. Anderson ... v. City of Birmingham, 205 Ala. 604, 88 So. 900; ... Citizens' Mutual Ins. Co. v. Lott, 45 ... ...
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