State ex rel. Lee v. Buchanan, No. 34336

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtKANNER; THORNAL; O'CONNELL; ERVIN, J., dissents and concurs with THORNAL; THORNAL; ERVIN
Citation191 So.2d 33
PartiesSTATE of Florida ex rel. Joel N. LEE, Appellant, v. T. A. BUCHANAN, as Sheriff of Dade County, Florida, Appellee.
Decision Date05 October 1966
Docket NumberNo. 34336

Page 33

191 So.2d 33
STATE of Florida ex rel. Joel N. LEE, Appellant,
v.
T. A. BUCHANAN, as Sheriff of Dade County, Florida, Appellee.
No. 34336.
Supreme Court of Florida.
Oct. 5, 1966.

Jepeway & Gassen and Joe N. Unger, Miami, for appellant.

Earl Faircloth, Atty. Gen., and William D. Roth, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellee.

KANNER, District Judge (Ret.).

A writ of habeas corpus obtained by appellant was quashed by the circuit court, which held that section 72.40(2)(a), Florida

Page 34

Statutes, F.S.A., 1 under which appellant was informed against and arrested, was not so vague and indefinite as to render it violative of the state or federal constitutions. This is a direct appeal from the order of the court so finding.

A proceeding in habeas corpus is civil rather than criminal in nature, even though sought in behalf of one charged with or convicted of a crime. Crownover v. Shannon, Florida 1964, 170 So.2d 299; State ex rel. Deeb v. Fabisinski, 1933, 111 Fla. 454, 152 So. 207, 156 So. 261. The circuit court terminated the habeas corpus proceeding by passing directly upon the validity of the statute and remanding the appellant to custody. The order thus constituted a final adjudication, the appeal from which is properly lodged here. Article V, section 4(2), Florida Constitution, F.S.A.

The information against appellant, an attorney at law licensed to practice in Florida, alleged that he had unlawfully charged and received compensation or money other than that allowed by law in connection with placement of a child for adoption or an adoption proceeding. The lower court in its order framed the primary issue as being whether the provisions of the statute were '* * * so vague and indefinite as to render this section of the statute unconstitutional.' It found the statute to be a constitutionally valid exercise of the police power of the legislature. The fact that a jury might be required to determine a question of reasonableness did not in the court's opinion render the statute too vague to afford a practical guide to permissible conduct. United States v. Ragen, 1942, 314 U.S. 513, 62 S.Ct. 374, 86 L.Ed. 383, was cited for this premise.

This court, in Brock v. Hardie, 1934, 114 Fla. 670, 154 So. 690, presented guidelines for testing the constitutional validity of a Florida statute under a question of vagueness, considering at some length the case of Cline v. Frink Dairy Co., 1927, 274 U.S. 445, 47 S.Ct. 681, 71 L.Ed. 1146. There, we said:

'* * * Whether the words of the Florida statute are sufficiently explicit to inform those who are subject to its provisions what conduct on their part will render them liable to its penalties is the test by which the statute must stand or fall, because, as was stated in the opinion above mentioned, (Cline v. Frink Dairy Co.) 'a statute which either forbids or requires the doing of an act in terms to vague that men of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning and differ as to its application violates the first essential of due process of law.'

'Such seems to be the test approved by the Supreme Court of the United States. Citation of authorities as to what may be considered the exact meaning of the phrase 'so vague that men of common intelligence must necessarily guess at its meaning,' so that certain conduct may be considered within or outside the true meaning of that phrase, or what language of a statute may lie within or without it, would be of little aid to us.

'We must apply our own knowledge with which observation and experience have supplied us in determining whether

Page 35

words employed by the statute are reasonably clear or not in indicating the legislative purpose, so that a person who may be liable to the penalties of the act may know that he is within its provisions or not.'

See also Locklin v. Pridgeon, 1947, 158 Fla. 737, 30 So.2d 102.

In Brock, we upheld the validity of certain sections of the Florida anti-trust statute, finding that it described the acts which it intended to punish with as much certainty as did the Colorado statute in Cline, but without the provisions which rendered the latter void. We are here asked to determine whether the words 'reasonable charges or fees' in the contextual setting of the statute are sufficiently clear and explicit to meet the constitutional criterion of due process of law proscribing vagueness and uncertainty.

The Cline case concerned certain legislation known as the Colorado Anti-Trust Act, which was struck down for denial of due process, the court deciding that the legislature was not justified in holding the average person to a rule of conduct gauged by his judgment and action in respect to the statutory language requiring a 'reasonable price' or a 'reasonable profit,' since no fixed standard of guilt existed. Citing the case of Connally v. General Construction Co., 1926, 269 U.S. 385, 46 S.Ct. 126, 70 L.Ed. 322, the court stated that its decisions upholding statutes as sufficiently certain generally had rested upon the conclusion that they employed words or phrases having a technical or special meaning well enough known to enable those within their reach to correctly apply them; or a well-settled common-law meaning, notwithstanding an element of...

To continue reading

Request your trial
44 practice notes
  • Lamont v. State, Nos. 89-2917
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • February 18, 1992
    ...to penal and criminal statutes, the due process requirement of definiteness is of especial importance. State ex rel. Lee v. Buchanan, 191 So.2d 33, 36 (Fla.1966) (citations omitted); accord State v. Valentin, 105 N.J. 14, 519 A.2d 322 (1987). Thus, to the extent that definiteness is lacking......
  • Ryan v. Ryan, 42427
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • March 30, 1973
    ...by the degree of one's culture, his emotions, nervous reaction or moral sense.' The principles set forth in State ex rel. Lee v. Buchanan, 191 So.2d 33 (Fla.1966); Locklin v. Pridgeon, 158 Fla. 737, 30 So.2d 102 (1947); Franklin v. State, 257 So.2d 21 (Fla.1971); and State v. Barquet, 262 S......
  • Del Percio v. City of Daytona Beach, Nos. 83-155
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • March 29, 1984
    ...v. City of Rockford, 408 U.S. 104, 92 S.Ct. 2294, 33 L.Ed.2d 222 (1972); Zachary v. State, 269 So.2d 669 (Fla.1972); State v. Buchanan, 191 So.2d 33 (Fla.1966); Marrs v. State, 413 So.2d 774 (Fla. 1st DCA 1982); Steffens v. State, 343 So.2d 90 (Fla. 3d DCA It is the duty of the legislative ......
  • State v. Barquet, No. 41596
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • February 14, 1972
    ...are not at liberty to supply the deficiencies or undertake to make the statute definite and certain. See State ex rel. Lee v. Buchanan, 191 So.2d 33, text 36 (Fla.1966). To do so would be to perform a lawmaking function in violation of Fla.Const. Const. art. II, § 3. The public must be info......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
44 cases
  • Lamont v. State, Nos. 89-2917
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • February 18, 1992
    ...to penal and criminal statutes, the due process requirement of definiteness is of especial importance. State ex rel. Lee v. Buchanan, 191 So.2d 33, 36 (Fla.1966) (citations omitted); accord State v. Valentin, 105 N.J. 14, 519 A.2d 322 (1987). Thus, to the extent that definiteness is lacking......
  • Ryan v. Ryan, 42427
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • March 30, 1973
    ...by the degree of one's culture, his emotions, nervous reaction or moral sense.' The principles set forth in State ex rel. Lee v. Buchanan, 191 So.2d 33 (Fla.1966); Locklin v. Pridgeon, 158 Fla. 737, 30 So.2d 102 (1947); Franklin v. State, 257 So.2d 21 (Fla.1971); and State v. Barquet, 262 S......
  • Del Percio v. City of Daytona Beach, Nos. 83-155
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • March 29, 1984
    ...v. City of Rockford, 408 U.S. 104, 92 S.Ct. 2294, 33 L.Ed.2d 222 (1972); Zachary v. State, 269 So.2d 669 (Fla.1972); State v. Buchanan, 191 So.2d 33 (Fla.1966); Marrs v. State, 413 So.2d 774 (Fla. 1st DCA 1982); Steffens v. State, 343 So.2d 90 (Fla. 3d DCA It is the duty of the legislative ......
  • State v. Barquet, No. 41596
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • February 14, 1972
    ...are not at liberty to supply the deficiencies or undertake to make the statute definite and certain. See State ex rel. Lee v. Buchanan, 191 So.2d 33, text 36 (Fla.1966). To do so would be to perform a lawmaking function in violation of Fla.Const. Const. art. II, § 3. The public must be info......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT