St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern Railway Co. v. State

CourtSupreme Court of Arkansas
Writing for the CourtHART, J.
Citation155 S.W. 517,107 Ark. 450
PartiesST. LOUIS, IRON MOUNTAIN & SOUTHERN RAILWAY COMPANY v. STATE
Decision Date31 March 1913

155 S.W. 517

107 Ark. 450

ST. LOUIS, IRON MOUNTAIN & SOUTHERN RAILWAY COMPANY
v.

STATE

Supreme Court of Arkansas

March 31, 1913


Appeal from Bradley Circuit Court; Henry W. Wells, Judge; affirmed in part and reversed in part.

STATEMENT BY THE COURT.

On July 20, 1912, R. W. Wilson, prosecuting attorney, in the name of the State, for the use and benefit of Bradley County, filed in the Bradley Circuit Court three hundred and sixty-five complaints against the St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern Railway Company. In case No. 317 the complaint alleged that on the 20th day of July, 1911, and during the night time of said date the defendant operated a train on which it transports freight and passengers for hire over its road from McGehee to Warren, Ark., and return, and that it failed to place and maintain lanterns or lights (a green light to indicate the main line track and a red light to indicate the side track) at its first main switch east of the depot at Warren. On August 16, 1912, the cause was heard before the court sitting as a jury and a penalty of twenty-five dollars was assessed against the defendant.

In cases numbered 318 to 682 the pleadings are the same as in No. 317 except that each complaint names a different date on which the offense is alleged to have been committed, covering a full year from the 21st of July, 1911. Over the objection of the defendant these cases were consolidated and tried as one case under the number of 318. On August 16, 1912, the consolidated cases were submitted to the court sitting as a jury and the court found for the plaintiff in all cases from 318 to 682 except cases numbered 572 to 585 inclusive. The court imposed a penalty of twenty-five dollars in each case, making a total of $ 8,750.

The evidence in the cases shows that appellant ran and operated a train over its line of road during the night time of each day from July 21, 1911, to July 20, 1912, without ever placing a switch light at any main line switch, or this particular one with the exceptions of about fifteen nights during the high water when the train could not get over its road.

From the judgment rendered in each case, the defendant has duly prosecuted an appeal to this court.

Judgment affirmed in part, and reversed in part and cause of action dismissed.

E. B. Kinsworthy, James C. Knox and T. D. Crawford, for appellant.

But one penalty was recoverable. Penal statutes are to be strictly construed. 6 Ark. 131; 43 Ark. 415; 87 Ark. 411; 68 Ark. 34; 79 Ark. 213. And the penalty imposed by such a statute will be imposed only when the case is brought within the strict letter of the law. 64 Ark. 271. Nothing will be taken as intended that is not clearly expressed in the statute. 79 Ark. 517, 521. See also L. R. 2 C. P. Cas. 583; 71 Cal. 541; 120 Ala. 206; 175 N.Y. 328; 46 N.Y. 644; 144 N.C. 532, 541; 157 Pa.St. 367, 378; 19 N.H. 286; 45 N.Y. 446; 179 N.Y. 448; 107 F. 870; 97 S.W. 724; 72 Miss. 491; 119 Ky. 769; 86 Pa.St. 427; 13 Lea (Tenn.) 1.

The statute, Act 23, General Acts 1911, provides for "a penalty of a fine of not less than twenty-five dollars nor more than one hundred dollars for each separate offense." The offense is a failure "to place and maintain sufficient lights during the night time on all its main line switches." Had the Legislature intended to make the failure to maintain such lights each night a separate offense it would have said so.

The conservation of the public good does not require the accumulation of a large number of penalties, and the action of the prosecuting attorney in waiting a year before taking steps to enforce the penalty does not evidence good faith toward the public.

R. W. Wilson, for appellee.

1. The language of the statute, the use of the words "violate," "conviction," "fine" and "offense" shows conclusively that the Legislature intended it as a criminal statute. The appeal should be dismissed for failure to lodge the transcript here within sixty days after the date of the judgments. Kirby's Dig., § 2614, and cases there cited.

2. Under the statute a fine is recoverable for "each separate offense," and each night the appellant fails to maintain the light required by the statute constitutes a "separate offense." Whenever a statute provides for the recovery of a penalty for each separate offense, the recovery of...

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4 practice notes
  • Mclaughlin v. City of Hope
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arkansas
    • March 31, 1913
    ...Eminent Domain, §§ 719, 950. Our statute authorizes the bringing of a suit where a corporation authorized by law to appropriate private [107 Ark. 450] property for its use may have done so, and appellants had the right to prosecute this suit against the city of Hope a cause of action being ......
  • Chicot County v. Matthews, 203
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arkansas
    • November 1, 1915
    ...even if that section applied, to multiply their alleged demands and collect costs on 363 imaginary "demands," where but one existed. 107 Ark. 450. For the public good, many services are required of officials to be performed for the county or State for which no fees are allowed. For such ser......
  • St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern Railway Company v. State, 133
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arkansas
    • July 10, 1916
    ...only one offense. All omissions are only one continuing offense, and a conviction in the first case is a bar to further convictions. 107 Ark. 450. See, also, 6 Id. 131; 43 Id. 415; 87 Id. 411; 68 Id. 34; 79 Id. 313; 64 Id. 271; 13 Am. & Enc. Law (2 ed.) 63; 86 Penn. St. 427; 61 S.W. 275; 7 ......
  • Chicot County v. Matthews, (No. 203.)
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arkansas
    • November 1, 1915
    ...and that but one penalty could be recovered for all the acts prior to the commencement of the suit. St. L., I. M. & S. Ry. Co. v. State, 107 Ark. 450, 155 S. W. 517. Following that decision the circuit court rendered judgment in one case, and the remaining 361 cases against the railroad com......
4 cases
  • Mclaughlin v. City of Hope
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arkansas
    • March 31, 1913
    ...Eminent Domain, §§ 719, 950. Our statute authorizes the bringing of a suit where a corporation authorized by law to appropriate private [107 Ark. 450] property for its use may have done so, and appellants had the right to prosecute this suit against the city of Hope a cause of action being ......
  • Chicot County v. Matthews, 203
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arkansas
    • November 1, 1915
    ...even if that section applied, to multiply their alleged demands and collect costs on 363 imaginary "demands," where but one existed. 107 Ark. 450. For the public good, many services are required of officials to be performed for the county or State for which no fees are allowed. For such ser......
  • St. Louis, Iron Mountain & Southern Railway Company v. State, 133
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arkansas
    • July 10, 1916
    ...only one offense. All omissions are only one continuing offense, and a conviction in the first case is a bar to further convictions. 107 Ark. 450. See, also, 6 Id. 131; 43 Id. 415; 87 Id. 411; 68 Id. 34; 79 Id. 313; 64 Id. 271; 13 Am. & Enc. Law (2 ed.) 63; 86 Penn. St. 427; 61 S.W. 275; 7 ......
  • Chicot County v. Matthews, (No. 203.)
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Arkansas
    • November 1, 1915
    ...and that but one penalty could be recovered for all the acts prior to the commencement of the suit. St. L., I. M. & S. Ry. Co. v. State, 107 Ark. 450, 155 S. W. 517. Following that decision the circuit court rendered judgment in one case, and the remaining 361 cases against the railroad com......

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