Town of Petersburg v. Metzker, 21 Ill. 205 (1859)

Jan. 1859 · Illinois Supreme Court
21 Ill. 205

The Town of Petersburg, Plaintiff in Error, v. Grigsby Metzker, Defendant in Error.

ERROR TO MENARD.

The powers of all corporations are limited by the grants in their charters, and cannot be extended beyond them.

When the charter of a town authorized the Board of Trustees to inflict such punishment for any offense against the laws of the incorporation, as may be provided by law for like offenses against the laws of the State: Held, that this did not authorize the passage of an ordinance imposing a fine of from five to fifty dollars for an assault, etc., the minimum fine for such an offense, under the laws of the State, being three dollars.

The town of Petersburg, in the county of Menard and State of Illinois, had filed before one J. J. H. Pillsbury, a police justice, in and for said town, a complaint against said defendant, charging him with violating the 2nd section of ordinance No. 7, of the town ordinance, by-laws of the town of Petersburg.

The said defendant was tried before the justice and fined ten dollars, and thereupon he appealed to the Circuit Court of Menard county.

This cause came up for trial at the May term of said court, 1858, before Harriott, Judge, of said circuit, and was tried by the court, without the intervention of a jury, by agreement.

The plaintiff read the town charter, amendments, etc., and produced the evidence, but the defendant notwithstanding, moved the court to dismiss the complaint and proceeding, because the whole ordinance was inconsistent with the laws of Illinois, and contrary to the constitution, and therefore void. The court heard the motion and after taking the same under consideration, granted it, and dismissed the case for the reasons aforesaid.

*206The 2nd section of the ordinance is as follows, to wit:

No. 7. Disturbance of the peace. Sec. 1st. Be it ordained, etc. If any person or persons who shall be guilty of an assault and battery or any affray within the corporate limits of the town of Petersburg, shall, on conviction thereof, forfeit and pay not less than five dollars, nor more than fifty dollars.

Sec. 2nd. Be it, etc. Any person or persons who shall disturb the peace and quiet of the town of Petersburg, or any of the families or inhabitants within the corporate limits thereof, by loud and unusual noises, blowing horns, etc., quarreling, etc., threatening to injure the person or property of another, etc., such person or persons shall, on conviction of any one of said offenses, be fined in the sum of not less than five dollars, nor more than fifty dollars.

These are the sections of the ordinance as read and proved on the trial.

The court quashed the whole proceedings, dismissed the case, and made the town pay the costs ; to all which rulings and decisions the town, by its attorney, then and there excepted.

Lincoln & Herndon, for Plaintiff in Error.

Thomas P. Cowan, for Defendant in Error.

Breese, J.

The powers of all corporations are limited by the grants in their charters, and cannot extend beyond them. The act incorporating the Town of Petersburg, (Laws 1841, page 333) provides, sec. 7, “ That the board of trustees of said town shall have power to impose fines and forfeitures for the breach of any ordinance, and provide for the collection thereof; and to direct by ordinance such punishments to be inflicted for any offense against the laws of the corporation, as is, or may be provided by law, for like offenses against the laws of the State.”

In pursuance of this power, the town authorities duly passed and published ordinance numbered seven, of two sections, under the first of which the defendant was arrested and convicted. That section is as follows: “ Be it ordained, etc. Any person or persons who shall be guilty of an assault, or assault and battery, or an affray, within the corporate limits of the town of Petersburg, shall, on conviction thereof, forfeit and pay not less than five, nor more than fifty dollars.”

The law of the State in such cases fixes the minimum at three dollars. (Scates’ Comp. 690.)

. The corporation, by their charter, can prescribe no greater punishment for an assault and battery committed in the town *207limits than is provided by the State law for the same offense. The charter controls the exercise of the power by the corporation. The judgment of the Circuit Court is affirmed.

Judgment affirmed.