Boyd v. Dade County

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtDREW; In Wright v. Worth; THOMAS; HOBSON; THOMAS
Citation123 So.2d 323
Decision Date28 September 1960
PartiesWilliam H. BOYD, Appellant, v. COUNTY OF DADE, State of Florida, Appellee. Edmund TODD, Appellant, v. COUNTY OF DADE, State of Florida, Appellee.

Page 323

123 So.2d 323
William H. BOYD, Appellant,
v.
COUNTY OF DADE, State of Florida, Appellee.
Edmund TODD, Appellant,
v.
COUNTY OF DADE, State of Florida, Appellee.
Supreme Court of Florida.
Sept. 28, 1960.

Page 324

Charles H. Wakeman, Jr., and Harvie S. Duval, Miami, for appellants.

Richard E. Gerstein, State Atty., and Glenn C. Mincer, Asst. State Atty., Miami, for appellee.

Page 325

DREW, Justice.

Appellants William H. Boyd and Edmund Todd were charged in the Metropolitan Court of Dade County, Florida with unlawfully driving or being in the actual physical control of a vehicle within Dade County, Florida while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or narcotic drugs and while affected to the extent that their normal faculties were impaired contrary to the provisions of the traffic ordinance of Dade County. 1 Each of the appellants filed a motion for trial by jury asserting that they were entitled thereto under Sections 3 and 11 of the Declaration of Rights of the Florida Constitution. 2 The motions in each case were denied by the trial judge, each of the defendants were duly tried without a jury and adjudged to be guilty. Todd was fined $50 and costs or five days in jail while Boyd was fined $250 and costs or twenty-five days in jail. From these final judgments entered on separate dates, separate appeals were prosecuted to this Court. Because the questions presented in both appeals are identical, they have been consolidated and will be disposed of in one opinion.

Three questions are posed for determination. The first is whether the Metropolitan Court of Dade County is a trial court within the meaning of that part of Article V of the Florida Constitution authorizing direct appeals from trial courts to this Court as a matter of right from final judgments or decrees directly passing upon the validity of a state statute or a Federal statute or treaty or construing a controlling provision of the Florida or Federal Constitution. 3 If the first question be decided in the affirmative, the next and second question for determination is whether such trial court in this case construed a controlling provision of the Florida Constitution. If both of the foregoing questions be answered in the affirmative, we then reach the ultimate question of whether the denial of the right to a trial by jury to Todd and Boyd is contrary to the provisions of Sections 3 and 11 of the Declaration of Rights of the Florida Constitution. We shall discuss these questions in the order in which they have been stated.

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In determining whether, in the constitutional sense, the Metropolitan Court of Dade County is a trial court, thereby giving this Court jurisdiction to entertain a direct appeal from the type of judgment described in Article V, Section 4(2) of the Florida Constitution, at least two specific provisions of said Article V must be considered. The first authorizes direct appeal from trial courts to this Court in the instance above related. The second provides that circuit courts shall have final appellate jurisdiction in all civil and criminal cases arising in the county court or before county judge's courts of all misdemeanors tried in criminal courts of record and over all cases arising in municipal courts, small claims courts and courts of justices of the peace. 4 The Metropolitan Court of Dade County was not mentioned as such when Article V was adopted. 5 We interpolate here to state that we have reached the conclusion, for the reasons which we will announce hereafter, that, insofar as the right to trial by jury is concerned, offenses denounced by the Dade County Traffic Ordinances are governed by the principles long since announced and consistently adhered to with reference to offenses against municipal ordinances. It is argued by Dade County that the provisions of the Metropolitan Charter requiring that appeals be taken to the circuit court of Dade County, 6 fix and determine the exclusive method of appeals from such decisions and that these appeals are therefore improperly before us. On the surface this appears to be a plausible argument; however, when analyzed in the light of the plain constitutional plan that judgments construing controlling provisions of the Florida Constitution, being of such great importance to all the people, should be decided by direct appeals to the one court beyond which there can be no further appeal, such argument cannot prevail; nor is it necessary in giving effect both to the spirit and letter of the Constitution to deprive the Circuit Court of Dade County of its proper appellate jurisdiction in the ordinary case arising in the Metropolitan Court. Both provisions may be given full effect by holding, as we do, that the provisions of Article V, vesting in the circuit courts final appellate jurisdiction in appeals from municipal courts, include and embrace the Metropolitan Court of Dade County; that all judgments of said court, except those which 'pass directly upon the validity of a state or Federal statute or treaty or construe a controlling provision of the Florida or Federal Constitution,' are properly reviewable by the Circuit Court of Dade County under both the Constitution and the Metropolitan Charter. The latter are reviewable on direct appeal here. As thus construed, there is neither inconsistency nor conflict in the two mentioned provisions of the Constitution.

Our conclusion that the Metropolitan Court of Dade County is a trial court is supported by the rationale of many cases heretofore decided by this and the district

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courts of appeal. 7 In every instance in which any recognized court of this State had directly passed upon the validity of a State or Federal statute or treaty or construed a controlling provision of the State or Federal Constitution and the matter has been appealed directly to this Court, we have accepted jurisdiction and decided the question. 8 Trial courts, as used in the Article V of the Florida Constitution, simply mean courts other than appellate courts. In using such words in the Constitution, the conclusion is inescapable that it is meant to describe those compentent tribunals under the laws of this State authorized to examine, or cause to be examined the facts put in issue in a cause for the purpose of determining such issue. An administrative individual, board or bureau is not such a court. 9

We now direct our attention to the proposition of whether the trial court in this instance construed a controlling provision of the Florida Constitution. This, as well as the first question, is involved in the determination of the question of our jurisdiction. In the Todd case, a motion was made for trial by jury in which it was asserted that, for the offense for which Todd was charged, he was entitled to a jury trial under Sections 3 and 11 of the Declaration of Rights of the Florida Constitution. In disposing of this motion, the trial court said '* * * It is its opinion and construction of these provisions of the Constitution that they do not include within their perview [sic] the instant case at bar and the terms and language of Section 11 'in all criminal prosecutions' would not include a case in the Metropolitan Court of Dade County.' In the Boyd case, the defendant Boyd filed a plea of not guilty and demanded trial by jury in which he asserted his rights under Sections 3 and 11 of the Florida Constitution to a trial by jury. Moreover, he asserted in his plea of not guilty and demand for jury trial that that portion of the Home Rule Charter of Dade County, which provides for trial by jury only in cases where the maximum fine was $500 or the maximum imprisonment was sixty days, was unconstitutional and void. In the order of the court denying Boyd's plea and motion, the court stated '* * * after hearing argument of counsel and carefully considering each of the constitutional rights raised by the defendant for

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trial by jury and being otherwise fully advised in the premises finds that the grounds given by the defendant in his request for a jury trial are not applicable to this Court * * *.' In ruling as it did in both cases, the judgments construed a controlling provision of the Florida Constitution and was, therefore, appealable directly to this Court.

Having hurdled the jurisdictional questions, we now turn to the proposition of whether the defendants were entitled to a jury trial for the offenses charged. To preface this discussion we observe that since the adoption of the Traffic Ordinance of Dade County, the municipal courts in Dade County have had no jurisdiction of traffic offenses and all municipal traffic ordinances have been superseded. In their stead stand the Metropolitan Court and the Dade County Traffic Ordinance. That the Dade County Board of Commissioners had the authority to enact these ordinances and that the Metropolitan Courts of Dade County had the jurisdiction to try those charged with offenses denounced by said ordinances have heretofore been decided by this Court. 10

In an unbroken line of cases since Hunt v. City of Jacksonville, 11 we have held that violations of municipal ordinances were infractions, the trial for which could be conducted without a jury trial. In State ex rel. Sellers v. Parker, Supt. of the City Prison Farm, 12 the relator Sellers was tried, convicted and sentenced in the municipal court of Jacksonville to imprisonment for a period of thirty days for the offense of operating a motor vehicle while under the...

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26 practice notes
  • Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure., In re, No. 35433
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • March 1, 1967
    ...87 Fla. 181, 100 So. 260). The section was never intended to extend the right of trial by jury beyond this point. (Boyd v. Dade County, 123 So.2d 323 There is some authority that trial by jury in indirect criminal contempt existed in the early common law but this practice was eliminated by ......
  • Schermerhorn v. Local 1625 of Retail Clerks Intern. Ass'n, AFL-CIO, AFL-CIO
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • April 25, 1962
    ...the trial court was confronted with, and decided, a legitimate constitutional question of first impression. In Boyd v. Dade County, Fla., 123 So.2d 323, we recognized that it was the plain constitutional plan of Article V, Section 4, 'that judgments construing controlling provisions of the ......
  • Wall v. Purdy, Civ. No. 70-573
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Southern District of Florida
    • January 20, 1971
    ...of a municipal ordinance in not a crime. See State ex rel. Wilson v. Quigg, 17 So.2d 697 (1944); also see Boyd v. County of Dade, 123 So. 2d 323 (Fla.1960); Davis v. State, 227 So.2d 342 (Fla.App.1969); see County of Dade v. Sansom, 226 So.2d 278 (Fla. App.1969), wherein such offenses were ......
  • Carol City Utilities, Inc. v. Dade County, No. 65-636
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • February 1, 1966
    ...Constitution of the State of Florida, F.S.A. Cf., Armstrong v. City of Tampa, Fla.1958, 106 So.2d 407; Boyd v. County of Dade, Fla.1960, 123 So.2d 323; Dresner v. City of Tallahassee, Fla.1961, 134 So.2d 228; and Board of County Commissioners of Dade County v. Boswell, Fla.1964, 167 So.2d...
  • Request a trial to view additional results
26 cases
  • Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure., In re, No. 35433
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • March 1, 1967
    ...87 Fla. 181, 100 So. 260). The section was never intended to extend the right of trial by jury beyond this point. (Boyd v. Dade County, 123 So.2d 323 There is some authority that trial by jury in indirect criminal contempt existed in the early common law but this practice was eliminated by ......
  • Schermerhorn v. Local 1625 of Retail Clerks Intern. Ass'n, AFL-CIO, AFL-CIO
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • April 25, 1962
    ...the trial court was confronted with, and decided, a legitimate constitutional question of first impression. In Boyd v. Dade County, Fla., 123 So.2d 323, we recognized that it was the plain constitutional plan of Article V, Section 4, 'that judgments construing controlling provisions of the ......
  • Wall v. Purdy, Civ. No. 70-573
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Southern District of Florida
    • January 20, 1971
    ...of a municipal ordinance in not a crime. See State ex rel. Wilson v. Quigg, 17 So.2d 697 (1944); also see Boyd v. County of Dade, 123 So. 2d 323 (Fla.1960); Davis v. State, 227 So.2d 342 (Fla.App.1969); see County of Dade v. Sansom, 226 So.2d 278 (Fla. App.1969), wherein such offenses were ......
  • Carol City Utilities, Inc. v. Dade County, No. 65-636
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • February 1, 1966
    ...Constitution of the State of Florida, F.S.A. Cf., Armstrong v. City of Tampa, Fla.1958, 106 So.2d 407; Boyd v. County of Dade, Fla.1960, 123 So.2d 323; Dresner v. City of Tallahassee, Fla.1961, 134 So.2d 228; and Board of County Commissioners of Dade County v. Boswell, Fla.1964, 167 So.2d...
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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