Commonwealth v. Kelly

Decision Date04 December 1900
Citation177 Mass. 221,58 N.E. 691
CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court

COUNSEL David F. Slade, for defendants. L. Le B. Holmes for the Commonwealth.



Pub.St c. 100, § 9, provides, as one of the conditions of licenses "that no sale of spirituous or intoxicating liquor shall be made between the hours of twelve at night and six in the morning; nor during the Lord's day, except that if the licensee is also licensed as an innholder, he may supply such liquor to guests who have resorted to his house for food or lodgings." By St.1885, c. 90, the word "twelve" is changed to "eleven." The only question in this case is whether the exception permitting innholders to supply guests extends to the hours between 11 at night and 6 in the morning. The ordinary rule of construction in a case like this confines the exception to the last antecedent. Cushing v. Worrick, 9 Gray, 382-385. See, also, Bullard v. Chandler, 149 Mass. 540, 21 N.E. 951; Com. v. Bralley, 3 Gray, 456. The purpose of the legislature seems to have been absolutely to prohibit sales of intoxicating liquor during the late hours of the night, except by apothecaries, and on Sundays to permit the supply of liquor by innholders only to guests who have resorted to the house for food or lodging. Following this interpretation of the law, we believe it generally has been understood that all places where liquor is sold to be drunk on the premises are to be closed at 11 o'clock in the evening, and are to remain closed until 6 the next morning. If rooms in inns were to remain open for the supply of liquor to guests of the house, it would be easy for licensees to evade the law by keeping their rooms open for sales to others, and thus to promote disorder. As the act is printed in Pub.St. c. 100, § 9, and in the second supplement of the General Statutes, published in 1878, and in St.1885, c. 90, there is a semicolon after the word "morning," although when the original act was first published the point used was a comma. If this punctuation is given full effect as an indication of the meaning to be expressed in reading the act, the case is free from question. Although it has been held that punctuation may be disregarded (Cushing v. Worrock, 9 Gray, 382-385), it may be resorted to as an aid in construction when it tends to throw light on the meaning (Maney v. Railroad Co.,...

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1 cases
  • Commonwealth v. Kelly
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts Supreme Court
    • 4 Diciembre 1900

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