People v. Schwartz, No. 47900

CourtSupreme Court of Illinois
Writing for the CourtRYAN
Citation64 Ill.2d 275,1 Ill.Dec. 8,356 N.E.2d 8
Decision Date01 October 1976
Docket NumberNo. 47900
Parties, 1 Ill.Dec. 8 The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellant, v. Spencer SCHWARTZ, Appellee.

Page 8

356 N.E.2d 8
64 Ill.2d 275, 1 Ill.Dec. 8
The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellant,
v.
Spencer SCHWARTZ, Appellee.
No. 47900.
Supreme Court of Illinois.
Oct. 1, 1976.

[64 Ill.2d 279]

Page 10

[1 Ill.Dec. 10] William J. Scott, Atty. Gen., Springfield, Bernard Carey, State's Atty., Chicago (James B. Zagel, Jayne A. Carr, Asst. Attys. Gen., Laurence J. Bolon and David A. Novoselsky, Asst. State's Attys., of counsel), for the People.

Rizzi & Rathsack, Chicago (Dom J. Rizzi and Michael W. Rathsack, Chicago, of counsel), for appellee.

RYAN, Justice:

Defendant, Spencer Schwartz, an attorney, was charged with requesting and partly receiving compensation for placing out a child for adoption in violation of the Adoption Act (Ill.Rev.Stat.1973, ch. 4, par. 12--5). The circuit court of Cook County granted defendant's motion to dismiss the complaints on the ground that section 12--1 of the Adoption Act is unconstitutional. The circuit court also found that the complaints in question were 'defective and, therefore, void.' A direct appeal to this court was taken pursuant to our Rule 302(a). 58 Ill.2d R. 302(a).

The basis of the circuit court's finding of unconstitutionality was its determination that section 12--1 is vague, uncertain and overbroad. Section 12--1 provides:

[64 Ill.2d 280] 'No person and no agency, association, corporation, institution, society, or other organization, except a child welfare agency as defined by the 'Child Care Act' * * * shall request, receive or accept any compensation or thing of value, directly or indirectly, for placing out of a child.'

Section 12--3 of the Act defines the term 'placing out.'

'As used in this Act the term 'placing out' means to arrange for the free care of a child in a family other than that of the child's parent, stepparent, grandparent, brother, sister, uncle or aunt or legal guardian, for the purpose of adoption or for the purpose of providing care.'

The circuit court specifically found that the phrases 'placing out of a child,' 'arranging for the free care' and 'for the purpose of providing care' were so obscure that they failed to set forth constitutionally sufficient standards of conduct. The circuit court also found the statute defective for the reason that it failed to define the word 'child.'

Though this is the first case to test the constitutionality of the statutes in question, the principles involved are well settled. A criminal statute violates the requirement of due process of law if it fails to adequately give notice as to what action or conduct is proscribed. (People v. Vandiver (1971), 51 Ill.2d 525, 283 N.E.2d 681.) Impossible standards of specificity, however, are not required. (Jordan v. DeGeorge (1951), 341 U.S. 223, 231, 71 S.Ct. 703, 95 L.Ed. 886; People v. Dednam (1973), 55 Ill.2d 565, 304 N.E.2d 627.) As stated by Mr. Justice Marshall, 'Condemned to the use of words, we can never expect mathematical certainty from our language.' (Grayned v. City of Rockford (1972), 408 U.S. 104, 110, 92 S.Ct. 2294, 2300, 33 L.Ed.2d 222, 228--29.) When called upon to decide a vagueness question, a court will asume, absent contrary legislative intent, that the words of the statute have their ordinary and popularly understood meanings. (Farrand Coal Co. v. Halpin (1957), 10 Ill.2d 507, 510, 140 N.E.2d 698.) In addition to the language used, consideration is given to the legislative objective and the evil the statute seeks to remedy. (People v. Dednam [64 Ill.2d 281] (1973), 55 Ill.2d 565, 304 N.E.2d 627.) A statute enjoys a presumption of constitutionality. Livingston v. Ogilvie (1969), 43 Ill.2d 9, 12, 250 N.E.2d 138.

With these principles in mind, we first consider the issue of vagueness. In contending that the statutes in question are

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[1 Ill.Dec. 11] vague and indefinite, defendant primarily questions the definition of 'placing out' in section 12--3 and the lack of a statutory definition of the word 'child.' Initially, we find no merit in defendant's contention that the term 'placing out' is vague as a result of the inclusion of the phrases 'arrange for the free care' and 'for the purpose of providing care' in the statutory definition.

Sections 12--1 and 12--3 of the Adoption Act simply provide that only a child welfare agency shall request or receive compensation for the placement of children within families other than those listed in section 12--3. All others are prohibited from action as paid intermediaries in the adoption process. The obvious purpose of the statute is to prevent profiteering in the placement of children and to eliminate socalled 'baby markets' and 'baby brokers.' The phrase 'arrange for the free care' adequately describes the conduct the legislature intended to condemn. The final phrase of section 12--3 prevents circumvention of the legislative goal through informal placement agreements which do not contemplate formal adoption...

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54 practice notes
  • Village of Oak Lawn v. Marcowitz, No. 53765
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • June 26, 1981
    ...understand what is required. Rose v. Locke (1975), 423 U.S. 48, [86 Ill.2d 427] 96 S.Ct. 243, 46 L.Ed.2d 185; People v. Schwartz (1976), 64 Ill.2d 275, 1 Ill.Dec. 8, 356 N.E.2d 8, cert. denied (1977), 429 U.S. 1098, 97 S.Ct. 1116, 51 L.Ed.2d 545; People v. Witzkowski (1972), 53 Ill.2d 216, ......
  • People v. Geever, Nos. 64173
    • United States
    • Illinois Supreme Court
    • March 23, 1988
    ...[Citation.].' " People v. Parkins (1979), 77 Ill.2d 253, 256-57, 32 Ill.Dec. 909, 396 N.E.2d 22, quoting People v. Schwartz (1976), 64 Ill.2d 275, 280-82, 1 Ill.Dec. 8, 356 N.E.2d We determine here that the statutory language of section 11-20.1(a)(2) provides sufficient notice as to wh......
  • People v. Haron, No. 53472
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • June 4, 1981
    ...whether an offender must have control over the weapon and utilize it in committing the underlying felony. In People v. Schwartz (1976), 64 Ill.2d 275, 1 Ill.Dec. 8, 356 N.E.2d 8, this court said with respect to challenges for vagueness and overbreadth: "A criminal statute violates the ......
  • People v. La Pointe, No. 53840
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • November 13, 1981
    ...protection of the law. We note at the outset that a statute enjoys a strong presumption of constitutionality (People v. Schwartz (1976), 64 Ill.2d 275, 281, 1 Ill.Dec. 8, 356 N.E.2d 8), and the burden of showing invalidity is on the party challenging the enactment (People v. McCabe (1971), ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
54 cases
  • Village of Oak Lawn v. Marcowitz, No. 53765
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • June 26, 1981
    ...understand what is required. Rose v. Locke (1975), 423 U.S. 48, [86 Ill.2d 427] 96 S.Ct. 243, 46 L.Ed.2d 185; People v. Schwartz (1976), 64 Ill.2d 275, 1 Ill.Dec. 8, 356 N.E.2d 8, cert. denied (1977), 429 U.S. 1098, 97 S.Ct. 1116, 51 L.Ed.2d 545; People v. Witzkowski (1972), 53 Ill.2d 216, ......
  • People v. Geever, Nos. 64173
    • United States
    • Illinois Supreme Court
    • March 23, 1988
    ...[Citation.].' " People v. Parkins (1979), 77 Ill.2d 253, 256-57, 32 Ill.Dec. 909, 396 N.E.2d 22, quoting People v. Schwartz (1976), 64 Ill.2d 275, 280-82, 1 Ill.Dec. 8, 356 N.E.2d We determine here that the statutory language of section 11-20.1(a)(2) provides sufficient notice as to wh......
  • People v. Haron, No. 53472
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • June 4, 1981
    ...whether an offender must have control over the weapon and utilize it in committing the underlying felony. In People v. Schwartz (1976), 64 Ill.2d 275, 1 Ill.Dec. 8, 356 N.E.2d 8, this court said with respect to challenges for vagueness and overbreadth: "A criminal statute violates the ......
  • People v. La Pointe, No. 53840
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • November 13, 1981
    ...protection of the law. We note at the outset that a statute enjoys a strong presumption of constitutionality (People v. Schwartz (1976), 64 Ill.2d 275, 281, 1 Ill.Dec. 8, 356 N.E.2d 8), and the burden of showing invalidity is on the party challenging the enactment (People v. McCabe (1971), ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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