State v. Caminade

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (New Jersey)
Citation25 A. 933,55 N.J.L. 4
Decision Date02 December 1892

(Syllabus by the Court.)

Original information in the nature of a quo warranto in the name of the state on the relation of John Matherson against John Caminade to determine the right of defendant to act as police justice of the city of Trenton. On demurrer to the information. Judgment for defendant.

Argued June term, 1892, before Beaslet, C. J., and Scudder and Reed, JJ.

Willia m M. Laning, for relator.

G. D. W. Vroom, for respondent.

BEASLEY, C. J. This is a proceeding on quo warrranto. The facts are not in dispute, as the argument arises on a demurrer. There is but a single question to be resolved, and that is whether a certain legislative act be constitutional or not. The statute thus alluded to was approved March 8, 1892, (Pamph. Laws, 66.) and is entitled "An act concerning certain cities of the second class in this state, and constituting a police court in such cities, and providing for the appointment of police justices of such courts, and defining the jurisdiction, powers, and duties of such police justices, and abolishing all other police courts, recorder courts, and police justices in such cities." The purpose of this legislation is to establish in every city of the second class of the state, having a population of 50,000 or over, one court to be designated a "police court." The act minutely defines the jurisdiction of the tribunal thus erected, and provides that a single judge shall preside therein, to be designated the "police justice," who is to be appointed by "the governor, by and with the advice and consent of the senate;" the term of his office being five years. It is not necessary, for present purposes, further to particularize the provisions of this law, as such details can in no wise elucidate our inquiry. The debate at the bar was addressed to the exposition of a single question, viz. whether this statute is or is not a special and local law regulating the internal affairs of certain cities, within the interdiction of the constitution. It was necessarily conceded that this statute did regulate the internal affairs of only certain cities of the state,—that is, cities whose population was at least 50,000 and did not exceed 100,000; consequently the only inquiry is whether the statute in question be a special or a general act, within the constitutional meaning of those terms? In view of the decisions heretofore made in this court, and in part in the court of errors, it has not seemed to me that there is any room for doubt on this subject. Indeed, the contention in this case wears rather the aspect of an application to this court to revise and to reverse quite a number of its own decisions than of the presentation of a new subject for consideration. That such an inference has at least some plausibility is apparent when we refer to the principles on this subject, that in this inquiry must be taken to have been entirely settled, so far, at ail events, as this court is concerned. Thus it has been decided that with regard to structural forms of government and administration the municipalities of the state may be distributed for legislative action into classes constructed on the basis of population. The ground plainly expressed for this conclusion was that population, in this connection, is a connotative term, signifying not only the populousness of a city, but as well the magnitude of its...

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