People v. De Meaux, 392.

CourtSupreme Court of Michigan
Writing for the CourtKUHN
Citation194 Mich. 18,160 N.W. 634
Docket NumberNo. 392.,392.
Decision Date21 December 1916

194 Mich. 18
160 N.W. 634


No. 392.

Supreme Court of Michigan.

Dec. 21, 1916.

Error to Circuit Court, Ingham County; Charles B. Collingwood, Judge.

Theodore De Meaux was convicted of resisting an officer who was attempting to serve process, and he brings error. Reversed, and new trial granted.


[160 N.W. 635]

Black & Black and Warner & Raudabaugh, all of Lansing, for appellant.

Grant Fellows, Atty. Gen., and William C. Brown, Pros. Atty., of Lansing, for the People.


The respondent was convicted under section 11327, Compiled Laws 1897, of having resisted an officer while attempting to serve process. Omitting its formal parts the information filed was as follows:

‘That heretofore, to wit, on the 30th day of October, A. D. 1915, at the city of Lansing and in the county aforesaid, one Theodore De Meaux, late of the city of Lansing, in the county aforesaid, did then and there knowingly obstruct, resist, oppose and assault one Le Roy A. Potter, a duly authorized and appointed police officer of the city of Lansing, in said county of Ingham, known to be such by the said Theodore De Meaux in his the said Le Roy A. Potter's serving and attempting to serve a warrant for the arrest of said Theodore De Meaux, in that he, the said Theodore De Meaux, did point a revolver at the person of said Le Roy A. Potter, and did drive and force the said Le Roy A. Potter from his presence and otherwise did knowingly and willfully obstruct, resist, oppose and assault said Le Roy A. Potter, he, the said Theodore De Meaux, being charged in said warrant with having unlawfully furnished liquor, contrary to the provisions of a certain resolution adopted by the board of supervisors of the

[160 N.W. 636]

said county of Ingham, on the 13th day of April, A. D. 1914; in pursuance of the provisions of Act No. 207 of the Public Acts of the state of Michigan for the year A. D. 1889, as amended, said warrant being issued by lawful authority of one Charles G. Force a justice of the peace of the township of Lansing, in said county, acting for Charles F. Haight, justice of the peace of the city of Lansing, having proper jurisdiction to issue said warrant and the said Le Roy A. Potter being then and there as such police officer lawfully engaged in the serving of said warrant, contrary to the form of the statute in such case made and provided and against the peace and dignity of the people of the state of Michigan.’

The warrant which it is claimed was in the hands of the officer when resisted was issued upon a complaint taken before one Charles G. Force, a justice of the peace of the township of Lansing, acting for Charles F. Haight, justice of the peace of the city of Lansing.

Before pleading to the information counsel for respondent made a motion to quash the information and discharge the respondent for various reasons, which motion was denied. The questions involved have been raised by assignments of error, which will be herein discussed.

It is the first contention of respondent's counsel that the information is insufficient in that it does not adequately set up the offense with which the respondent was charged in the warrant, action under which he is alleged to have resisted. It is claimed that the process under authority of which the officer was acting when resisted should have been fully set up in the information, and that what has been set up is merely the affirmance of a conclusion. Our attention has not been directed to any case decided by this court where the question was involved of how fully the process in a charge of this kind should be set up in the information. The cases of People v. Hamilton, 71 Mich. 340, 38 N. W. 921, and People v. Hubbard, 141 Mich. 96, 104 N. W. 386, are relied upon by counsel for appellant. In both of these cases the defects in the information pointed out by the court related to the failure to describe the conduct of the officer and the acts of resistance and make no mention of the matter of setting up the process under which the officer was acting when resisted. In the Hubbard Case, Mr. Justice McAlvay, in writing the opinion, said:

‘No cases are found by us or called to our attention in prosecutions for resisting an officer in the execution of process lawfully issued, where it has been held not necessary to set forth specifically in the information the nature of the process and the doings of the officer under it at the time of the resistance.’

We are of the opinion that it was not necessary to set out in the information in haec verba the process under which the officer was acting as the nature of the process was sufficiently described in the information to advise the respondent what he was called upon to answer. See State v. Roberts, 52 N. H. 492;State v. Cassady, 52 N. H. 500;State v. Perkins, 43 La. Ann. 186, 8 South. 439;Slicker v. State, 13 Ark. 397;McQuoid v. People, 8 Ill. (3 Gilman) 76.

It is next contended that the statute under which the justice of the peace was acting at the time the warrant was issued is unconstitutional. The old charter of the city of Lansing in its provisions relating to a court of the justice of the peace, being a portion of Act 405 of the Local Acts of 1893, as amended by Act 416, Local Acts of 1897, and by Act 378, Local Acts of 1903, provides:

‘In case of the absence, disability or disqualification of * * * said justice, and justice of the peace of the township of Lansing in said county shall be qualified to act in the place of and for said justice in the performance of any of the duties devolved upon him under this act, and shall, when called upon by said justice or by the circuit judge so act.’

The same provision is also contained in the present charter. It is broadly contended that the legislative designation of a justice of the township of Lansing to act as justice in another municipality is in violation of our Constitution as contravening the important principle of local self-government that no person elected by another constituency can be imposed upon the citizens of Lansing by the Legislature, as such would deprive them of their constitutional right to elect their own judicial officer. The office of justice of the peace is a part of the judicial system of this state, and in the exercise of the important functions of this office the persons filing it cannot be said to be performing duties local in character, but must rather be said to be performing duties in behalf of the entire state. Chief Justice Campbell, in the case of People v. Goodwin, 22 Mich. 496, at page 499, said:

‘The judicial department of every civilized government is...

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    ...action is the illegality of an officer's action, to which defendant immediately reacts.") (citations omitted); People v. De Meaux , 194 Mich. 18, 28, 160 N.W. 634 (1916) ("He was in his own home when the effort was made to serve the warrant upon him, and if the officer was not armed with a ......
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    ...People v. Phillips, 385 Mich. 30, 187 N.W.2d 211 (1971); People v. Patskan, 387 Mich. 701, 199 N.W.2d 458 (1972); People v. DeMeaux, 194 Mich. 18, 160 N.W. 634 (1916); People v. Beverly, 108 Mich. 509, 66 N.W. 379 (1896). Similarly, the federal decisions hold "a lesser offense charge is not......
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