State v. Legora

Decision Date07 February 1931
Citation34 S.W.2d 1056,162 Tenn. 122
CourtTennessee Supreme Court

Appeal in Error from Circuit Court, Rutherford County; John E Richardson, Judge.

Criminal prosecution by the state against Paul Legora for violating statute requiring junk dealers to keep book records of certain purchases. From a judgment quashing the indictment the State brings error.

Affirmed as to certain counts, and reversed and remanded as to another count.

The Attorney General, for the State.

C. L Cummings, of Murfreesboro, for defendant in error.


The state has appealed from a judgment of the circuit court of Rutherford county quashing an indictment. The second and third of the three counts of the indictment were quashed because defective, in that essential averments of fact were omitted. The first count was quashed upon the finding by the court that the supporting statute is unconstitutional. The statute is chapter 182 of the Acts of 1903, regulating the business of junk dealers.

The action of the trial court on the second and third counts of the indictment is clearly correct, and must be affirmed. These counts undertake to charge offenses defined in the second and fourth sections of the cited statute, and fail to accuse the defendant of doing acts necessary to constitute the offense charged.

The first count charges the defendant with carrying on the business of a junk dealer, and with a particular purchase of junk copper or brass, without keeping a book record of his purchases, in violation of section 1 of the statute which requires that such dealers "shall keep a book in which they shall promptly enter the names of all persons from whom they buy or get scrap iron, brass or other metals of any sort, *** said entries to be made in chronological order from day to day, as the business is transacted, and said book shall at all times be open to inspection of the police or other officer, or any person who may desire to see the same; and shall be in good faith kept and preserved by such dealers for the convenient inspection aforesaid." Acts 1903, c. 182, § 1.

This provision was held by the trial court to be in conflict with the Constitution of the United States, Amendments 4 and 5, and in conflict with the Constitution of Tennessee, art. 1, § 7, relating to unreasonable searches and seizures and giving evidence against one's self.

The Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States do not control the legislative action of states, and have no application to the case before us. Smith v. Tate, 143 Tenn. 268, 274, 227 S.W. 1026; Raine v. State, 143 Tenn. 168, 176, 226 S.W. 189.

The statute in question has been in force more than twenty-five years. That it has not operated to oppress those engaged in the regulated business is indicated by the fact that no case involving its application has heretofore been presented to this court, so far as the reported cases show. A similar requirement is made of pawnbrokers, by the Acts of 1879, c. 100. Shannon's Code (1917 Ed.) §§ 3608a105, 3608a106. This statute has also been immune from attack during the fifty years it has been enforced.

In other jurisdictions, the business of junk dealers has been repeatedly held subject to this special regulation. The Supreme Court of the United States refers "to the well-known fact *** that junk dealers provide an important market for stolen merchandise of the kinds mentioned, and that because of their experience they are peculiarly fitted to detect whether property offered is stolen property." Rosenthal v. New York, 226 U.S. 260, 33 S.Ct. 27, 30, 57 L.Ed. 212, 217. Sustaining a statute containing similar provisions, the Supreme Court of Ohio, in Phillips v. State, 77 Ohio St. 214, 217, 82 N.E. 1064, 1065, said:

"The business of dealing in second-hand articles and junk is one which is peculiarly liable to abuse; and, whether honestly conducted or not, experience has shown that stolen or lost property frequently finds its way to the junk dealer, through the agency of the persons who have unlawfully appropriated it. In view of the fact that it frequently happens that individuals seeking to reclaim their property are suddenly stopped and forever baffled at the door of the junk dealer's shop, the

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4 cases
  • Rust v. Griggs
    • United States
    • Tennessee Supreme Court
    • March 7, 1938
    ...399, 131 S.W. 867, Ann.Cas.1912C, 248. See, also, Samuelson v. State, 116 Tenn. 470, 95 S.W. 1012, 115 Am.St.Rep. 805; State v. Legora, 162 Tenn. 122, 34 S.W.2d 1056. legislation to foster free competition and to prevent monopolies is quite uniformly sustained. Standard Oil Co. v. State, 11......
  • State v. Latimer
    • United States
    • Tennessee Supreme Court
    • May 6, 1944
    ...166 Tenn. 106, 59 S.W.2d 514; State v. Hall, 164 Tenn. 548, 51 S.W.2d 851; State v. Brewer, 163 Tenn. 215, 42 S.W.2d 344; State v. Legora, 162 Tenn. 122, 34 S.W.2d 1056; State v. Young, 160 Tenn. 567, 27 S.W.2d 1091. We think the right of appeal should be recognized and approved, since ther......
  • Bowen v. Hannah
    • United States
    • Tennessee Supreme Court
    • May 19, 1934
    ...businesses, but unavailingly. The validity of the junk dealer regulatory statutes was recently upheld by this court in State v. Legora, 162 Tenn. 122, 34 S.W.2d 1056, and in the opinion in that case the pawnbroker statutes incidentally approved. Prevention of the crime of theft was particul......
  • State v. Hall
    • United States
    • Tennessee Supreme Court
    • July 2, 1932 said generally that inspection laws, enacted under the police power of the state, have been sustained by the courts. State v. Legora, 162 Tenn. 122, 34 S.W.2d 1056; State ex rel. v. Nolan, 161 Tenn. 293, 30 601. The statute here involved is a salutary one, looking to the preservation of ......

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