Rushing v. Tennessee Crime Com'n

Decision Date27 May 1938
Citation117 S.W.2d 4,173 Tenn. 308
CourtTennessee Supreme Court

Appeal from Chancery Court, Madison County; DeWitt Henderson Chancellor.

Walter Rushing and another, who were summoned to testify before the Tennessee Crime Commission, challenged the authority of the Commission to subp na them upon the ground that the act creating the Commission was void and filed their bill seeking to have the act declared unconstitutional. From a decree sustaining the defendants' demurrer and dismissing the bill, complainants appeal.


H. G Arnold, of Jackson, for appellants.

Edwin F. Hunt, Chas. L. Cornelius, Thos. H. Malone, J. H. Ballew and. Wm. J. Wade, all of Nashville, Dudley Porter, Jr., of Paris, W. W. Craig, of Ripley, and L. L. Fonville, of Jackson, for appellees.

COOK Justice.

The complainants Walter Rushing and Henry Light were summoned to testify before the Tennessee Crime Commission created by Chapter 13, Public Acts Third Extra Session, 1937. They challenged the authority of the Commission to subp na them upon the ground that the Act is void and filed the bill seeking to have it declared unconstitutional. The chancellor sustained defendants' demurrer and dismissed the bill. Appeal was prayed and the cause is here to review the decree of the chancellor upon assignments of error through which it is insisted that the Act contravenes provisions of the Constitution and especially Article 1, Section 7; Article 1, Section 8; Article 1, Section 9; Article 1, Section 21; Article 2, Section 17; Article 2, Section 24; Article 6, Section 12, and Article 11, Section 16.

The questions presented by the assignments of error are quite numerous and will be disposed of in proper order, commencing with appellants' proposition that the body of the Act is broader than the caption and contains incongruous provisions. The caption reads:

"An Act to provide for the creation and establishment of a Crime Commission of the State of Tennessee; to prescribe the powers and duties of such Commission; to provide for an appropriation for carrying out the provisions of said Act, and to provide penalties for violations thereof."

The purpose of the Legislature, as expressed under the foregoing caption, is to establish a committee of inquiry with authority to assemble facts and report findings to the Legislature as the possible basis for corrective and remedial legislation amendatory of the penal code. The power of the Commission is so limited by section 2 of the Act, which provides:

"That the duties of the Crime Commission shall be to examine the crime situation in Tennessee, including the procedure, methods and agencies concerned with the detection of crime, the apprehension, bailing, prosecution and trial of persons accused of crime, the punishment, treatment, pardon and parole of convicted persons, together with judicial administration, psychiatric cases, juvenile delinquency, causes of crime and other kindred subjects.
"The Commission shall otherwise study and report upon all other matters having any relation, directly or indirectly, with the crime situation in this State.
"The Commission shall report to the Legislature upon the beginning of its biennial session and at any other time when the Governor or Legislature may direct, its findings and recommendations, and draft the bills necessary to carry them out. The Commission shall recommend to the various departments, commissions and officers of the State, or any political sub-division thereof, drafts of laws, rules or regulations which it considers necessary to carry out its recommendations, and shall submit copies of such recommendations to the Legislature as a part of its report."

The subsequent provisions of the Act, as may be seen by a reference to the body, are designed to aid in the accomplishment by the Commission of the purposes stated in the caption, so we find that the enactment does not violate Article 2, Section 17, as insisted by complainants. It was not necessary for the caption to index the details of the Act. It was sufficient if the caption directed the mind of the legislators to the object of the proposed legislation, as it does. Under the general subject expressed by this caption the Legislature could, as was done here, legislate upon the manner, means and instrumentalities necessary to accomplish the general purpose expressed. Riddick v. Insurance Co., 165 Tenn. 105, 52 S.W.2d 166; Mensi v. Walker, 160 Tenn. 468, 26 S.W.2d 132; McMahan v. Felts, 159 Tenn. 435, 19 S.W.2d 249; Shields v. Williams, 159 Tenn. 349, 19 S.W.2d 261; Goetz v. Smith, 152 Tenn. 451, 278 S.W. 417.

The Act before us is not expressly amendatory of any law, so it was not necessary to include in the title a reference to laws impliedly amended. Daniels v. State, 155 Tenn. 549, 296 S.W.20; Koen v. State, 162 Tenn. 573, 39 S.W.2d 283.

The Legislature has unlimited power to enact laws except as expressly or impliedly restrained by the Constitution, and the other questions raised by the assignments of error are dependent upon whether in passing the Act the Legislature went beyond the restraints imposed by the people through their Constitution. We have considered the Act to determine whether or not the Legislature violated any provision of the Constitution. The Act does not suspend any general law and it does not grant rights, privileges and immunities contrary to Article 11, Section 8, nor does it impose any particular burden upon individuals or classes. It would be an abuse of judicial power to declare the Act unconstitutional class legislation. Richardson v. Young, 122 Tenn. 471, 125 S.W. 664.

There is no merit in the complaint that the Act violates either of the provisions of the Constitution now being considered, because witnesses are required to attend without any provision having been made to compensate for their attendance. Henley v. State, 98 Tenn. 665, 41 S.W. 352, 1104, 39 L.R.A. 126.

The services required of witnesses are not particular services but general. Every citizen of the State may be called upon to render services as a witness for the general good as well as his own benefit. Section 4 of the Act provides:

"The Commission may issue a subp na in the name of the State Crime Commission of Tennessee requiring any person to appear before the Commission and be examined with reference to any matter within the scope of the inquiry or investigation being conducted by the Commission and to bring with him any books, records or papers. The provisions of the general law of this State in relation to enforcing obedience to a subp na lawfully issued by a court of record shall apply to a subp na issued by the Commission as authorized by this section."

It is said this provision renders the Act void because it provides for issuance of subp nas in the name of the Commission instead of in the name of the State and, being contrary to Article 6, Section 12, of the Constitution, renders the entire Act void.

Supposing that notice from the Commission to appear and testify is a writ or process contemplated by Article 6, Section 12 ( Lyle v. Longley, 65 Tenn. 286, 290, 6 Baxt. 286, 290), the constitutional requirement that process run in the name of the State would be read into the statute without striking it down. State v. Ritzius, 164 Tenn. 259, 265, 47 S.W.2d 558; Maxey v. Powers, 117 Tenn. 381, 403, 101 S.W. 181.

No restraint is imposed by the Constitution upon the power of the Legislature to create boards and commissions as the instrumentalities of government nor is there any restraint upon the power to provide means through which such boards and commissions may accomplish the purpose for which they are created. The fact that the Commission may exercise quasi-judicial power under provisions of the Act would not render it void as an encroachment upon judicial power contrary to Article 2, Section 2. There is quite a full discussion of this proposition in House v. Creveling, 147 Tenn. 589, 596, 250 S.W. 357, to which reference is made without repeating the discussion.

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6 cases
  • Stewart v. Stanley
    • United States
    • Louisiana Supreme Court
    • December 1, 1941
    ... ... known as the 'Crime Commission' to investigate all of ... the governmental departments, ... of their brief, statutes from Tennessee and other states ... where legislation creating commissions to ... constitutional by the Tennessee Supreme Court in Rushing v ... Tennessee Crime Commission, 173 Tenn. 308, 117 S.W.2d 4, and ... ...
  • Brown v. Knox County
    • United States
    • Tennessee Supreme Court
    • June 12, 1948
    ... ... 8 BROWN et al. v. KNOX COUNTY et al. Supreme Court of Tennessee.June 12, 1948 ...          Appeal ... from Chancery Court, ... v ... Gore, 173 Tenn. 69, 114 S.W.2d 796; Rushing v. Tenn ... Crime Comm., 173 Tenn. 308, 117 S.W.2d 4. On these ... ...
  • Kyle v. Marcom
    • United States
    • Tennessee Supreme Court
    • January 8, 1944
    ... ... MARCOM et al. BROWN et al. v. KYLE et al. Supreme Court of Tennessee.January 8, 1944 ...          Appeal ... from Chancery Court, ... legal effect, identical with that discussed in Rushing v ... Tennessee Crime Commission, 173 Tenn. 308, 117 S.W.2d 4, ... 8, ... ...
  • Donathan v. McMinn County
    • United States
    • Tennessee Supreme Court
    • July 17, 1948
    ... ... v. McMINN COUNTY et al. Supreme Court of Tennessee. July 17, 1948 ...          Appeal ... from Chancery Court, ... validity. Hyde v. State; Troutman v. Crippen, supra; ... Rushing v. Tennessee Crime Commission, 173 Tenn ... 308, 117 S.W.2d 4 ... ...
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