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People Ex Rel. Will County Fair Ass'n v. Standard

APRIL 16, 1956.

PEOPLE OF STATE OF ILLINOIS EX REL. WILL COUNTY FAIR ASSOCIATION, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

STILLMAN J. STANARD, DIRECTOR OF DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, MORTON H. HOLLINGSWORTH, DIRECTOR OF DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE, ORVILLE E. HODGE, AUDITOR OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTS, WARREN E. WRIGHT, STATE TREASURER, ALL OF STATE OF ILLINOIS, AND MONEE WILL COUNTY DISTRICT FAIR ASSOCIATION, DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Will county; the Hon. JAMES V. BARTLEY, Judge, presiding. Judgment affirmed.

JUSTICE EOVALDI DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.

Rehearing denied May 1, 1956.

This case comes to us for decision by transfer from the Supreme Court. It is an appeal from an order of the circuit court awarding a writ of mandamus directing the payment of monies to plaintiff-appellee. The petition for mandamus was filed in the circuit court of Will County by the People of the State of Illinois, ex rel., Will County Fair Association, against Stillman J. Stanard, Director of the Department of Agriculture of the State of Illinois, and other officers of the State of Illinois, and the appellant, Monee Will County District Fair Association. The matter came on for hearing before the court on the amended petition, answer of all defendants, and a stipulation of fact.

The amended petition alleged that the petitioner, Will County Fair Association, a corporation, qualified as the only active fair association since the year 1927 in Will County and was the only qualified and acting fair association in Will County on July 20, 1949, which is the effective date of the amendatory act of 1949 relative to county fairs, namely, Chap. 127, Sec. 164 of the Illinois Revised Statutes; that the petitioner qualified to participate in the Fair and Exposition Fund for county fairs as provided for in Section 6i of the State Finance Act as amended in 1953 (Ill. Rev. Stat., 1953, Chap. 127, Sec. 142i) and was the only county fair to qualify in the County of Will; and on April 27, 1955, said petitioner filed Declaration of Intention to participate in the Fair and Exposition Fund of the Department of Agriculture and was the only county fair association of the County of Will that had met the necessary qualifications to participate in the above-named fund; that the officers of the plaintiff demanded of the defendant, state officers, to pay it the entire allotment for Will County from the above-named Fair and Exposition Fund; but that the defendant, Stillman J. Stanard, Director of the Department of Agriculture, said he would pay one-half to the Will County Fair Association but refused to pay the other one-half to the plaintiff; that Stillman J. Stanard had adequate funds allotted to said Department of Agriculture from the Fair and Exposition Fund to pay the amount demanded in the amended petition.

The answer of the defendant, Monee Will County District Fair Association denied that the plaintiff was the only qualified fair to participate in the appropriations for Will County and admitted that one-half of the appropriations was payable to the petitioner and alleged that the other one-half of such allotment was payable, and should be paid, to said defendant.

The stipulation of fact by all the parties stipulates that the Will County Fair Association of Peotone, Will County, Illinois, and Monee Will County District Fair Association are corporations duly incorporated under the laws of the State of Illinois and that plaintiff, Will County Fair Association, had qualified as a county fair association in Will County from the year 1927 to the present time, and had held fairs in said county and had received grants from the Agricultural Premium Fund of the State of Illinois from the year 1927 through the year 1954; that the Monee Will County District Fair Association held county fairs in Will County from the years 1945 through 1948 and received grants from the Agricultural Premium Fund of the State of Illinois for said years, and also held county fairs prior to the year 1945 and received grants from said fund at that time, and filed in the year 1949, prior to April 1st of that year, a notice in writing with the Department of Agriculture concerning the essential facts of its organization, location, officers, date of exhibition and approximate amount of premiums to be offered; that the Monee Will County District Fair Association did not hold an annual fair in the year 1949, nor in any year subsequent thereto, but did file prior to April 1, 1955, a notice in writing with the Department of Agriculture for participation in the Agricultural Premium Fund, as required by Section 28 of the State Finance Act [Ill. Rev. Stats. 1953, ch. 127, § 164], and on May 1st, 1955, filed an election to participate in the appropriation from the Fair and Exposition Fund pursuant to Section 6i of the State Finance Act; that the Will County Fair Association was granted a right to operate a county fair in the year 1955 by the County Board of Supervisors of Will County, but that no authorization was given to the Monee Will County District Fair Association by said county board; that the Will County Fair Association filed an appropriate notice in writing with the Department of Agriculture of the State of Illinois on or before April 1st, 1955, as required by Section 28 of the State Finance Act and had elected for the year 1955 to participate in the appropriations of the Fair and Exposition Fund pursuant to Section 6i of the State Finance Act and filed notice of such election prior to May 1, 1955; that the Will County Fair Association had served demand on the Director of the Department of Agriculture that the entire allotment from the Fair and Exposition Fund allocated to Will County be paid to Will County Fair Association; that Stillman J. Stanard, Director of the Department of Agriculture, had ruled that one-half of the Will County allotment from the Fair and Exposition Fund was payable to the Will County Fair Association and the other one-half of such allotment was distributable to the Monee Will County District Fair Association; that adequate funds had been appropriated for the payment of such amount as should be distributed to county fairs. The stipulation of facts concluded:

"It is the consensus of the parties hereto that the legal questions arising on these facts relate as to whether or not the Monee Will County District Fair Association is qualified to participate in one-half of the funds allotted to Will County, Illinois, from the Fair and Exposition Fund inasmuch as said Monee Will County District Fair Association has not held an annual fair since the year 1948, although it did hold a fair that year and filed a notice with the Department of Agriculture to participate in the appropriations from the Agricultural Premium Fund for the year 1949, said notice being filed on or before May 1st of that year, and inasmuch as the Monee Will County District Fair Association has not received any payments since the year 1948 from the Agricultural Premium Fund."

The court by its order found as a matter of law that the Monee Will County District Fair Association was not eligible to participate in the Will County allotment of the Fair and Exposition Fund, and ordered the writ of mandamus to issue against the defendants. The amount of the allotment was $29,946.87. A peremptory writ of mandamus directing the Department of Agriculture through the other state officers to issue voucher to the Will County Fair Association in said sum of $29,946.87 was filed on July 1, 1955, and the receipts for copies of said writ of mandamus were filed in the circuit court on July 21, 1955.

It is contended that the trial court erred: (a) In holding that appellant, Monee Will County District Fair Association, as a matter of law was not eligible to participate in the Will County allotment under the Fair and Exposition Fund, and (b) in holding that the circuit court of Will County had jurisdiction by way of mandamus to review the decision of the Department of Agriculture as to the eligibility of said appellant to participate in the Will County funds.

As to the latter contention of appellant, while it is the general rule that the writ of mandamus will not lie to compel the performance of acts or duties, which necessarily call for the exercise of judgment and discretion on the part of the officer or body at whose hands their performance is required, it is also true that a writ of mandamus will issue to command the performance of an official act in a proper manner when such act is in its nature ministerial, and not judicial. Graham v. People, 111 Ill. 253; People ex rel. Bibb v. Mayor & Common Council of Alton, 179 Ill. 615; Pyle v. Puntney, 254 Ill. App. 224.

In the latter case a petition for writ of mandamus was filed in the circuit court by appellant against the superintendent of schools to compel the latter to approve the attendance of appellant's son at the high school. A general demurrer filed by appellee was sustained and on appellant's refusal to plead further his petition was dismissed and judgment rendered against him, from which action the appeal was prosecuted. In that case the court recognized the general rule that courts will not review in a collateral proceeding the facts upon which a ministerial officer is called upon to decide in his official capacity in the absence of a showing of fraud, collusion or oppression, but it reversed the judgment of the lower court on the ground that the superintendent's duty to give his approval became a mere ministerial act, the performance of which in a proper case could be enforced by mandamus.

Section 6i of the State Finance Act, which is Section 142i, Chap. 127, Ill. Rev. Stat., 1953, sets forth the requirements for county fairs to receive money from the appropriations to the Fair and Exposition Fund, and provides in part for such participation as follows:

". . . Such appropriations shall be distributed by the Department to such county fairs which are eligible to participate in appropriations made under Section 28 but which elect instead to participate in appropriations made pursuant to this Section."

Said Section 28 above referred to is also Section 164 of said Chap. 127. That section, insofar as it is ...


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