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People v. Palkes

OPINION FILED OCTOBER 2, 1972.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLANT,

v.

MELVIN B. PALKES, D/B/A MADISON IRON & METAL COMPANY, APPELLEE.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Madison County; the Hon. STEPHEN JIANAKOPLOS, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE RYAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

A criminal complaint was filed in the circuit court of Madison County charging the defendant with having purchased in excess of 50 pounds of copper and failing to report the same in violation of the Copper Purchase Registration Law. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 121 1/2, par. 321 et seq.) Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, challenging the constitutionality of the Act. The court allowed the motion and dismissed the complaint.

The motion alleges five constitutional grounds for dismissing the complaint. The first charges that by making the Act inapplicable to counties of over one million population the legislature created an unreasonable and arbitrary classification in violation of the due-process and equal-protection clauses of the fourteenth amendment of the Federal constitution and the due-process clause of the State constitution.

The second allegation is that the Act is so vague as to violate the due-process clauses of the State and Federal constitutions.

The third allegation charges that the provisions of the Act violate section 22 of article IV of the Illinois constitution which prohibits special legislation.

The fourth allegation asserts that the provisions of the Act constitute an unauthorized delegation of police power.

The fifth allegation charges that the provisions of the Act violate the constitutional rights against self-incrimination guaranteed by the Illinois and Federal constitutions.

The third and fifth allegations are but general assertions of violations of certain constitutional provisions without in any manner specifying how these provisions were infringed. This court has held that constitutional issues cannot be raised by such general allegations. In re Simaner, 15 Ill.2d 568; Biggs v. Cummins, 5 Ill.2d 512; Jewel Tea Co. v. Rowe, 414 Ill. 495.

The second and fourth allegations are likewise general in nature and lacking in the degree of specificity which could reasonably be expected to be of assistance to a court in considering constitutional questions. However, in addition to charging a constitutional violation, each allegation in a general way directs the court's attention to the nature of the violation sufficient to warrant the consideration of the issues.

The second allegation charges a violation of due process of law by reason of the vagueness of the statute. No specific word or phrase of the statute is singled out as being vague or uncertain. The Supreme Court in Connally v. General Construction Co., 269 U.S. 385, 70 L.Ed. 322, 46 S.Ct. 126, stated that a statute which either forbids or requires the doing of an act in terms so 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. See also Hershey Manufacturing Co. v. Adamowski, 22 Ill.2d 36.

The defendant is charged with having purchased in excess of 50 lbs. of copper which he failed to report within 72 hours after the date of the purchase. By referring to the statute (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 121 1/2, par. 323) it is readily ascertainable that except as provided in section 5 of the Act (par. 325) every copper dealer shall enter in triplicate on forms provided by the Department of Public Safety or such department as may succeed to its functions, for each purchase of copper of 50 lbs. or more certain specified information. This section further requires that one copy of the completed form shall be kept in a separate book or register by the dealer and that within three days from the day of purchase one copy of the completed form shall be filed in the office of the county clerk of the county in which the copper was purchased and one copy shall be filed with or mailed to the Department of Public Safety or such department as may succeed to its functions. The term "copper dealer" is defined in section 2 (par. 322) of the Act.

In reading the statute it is readily ascertainable that the specific acts that the defendant is charged with having failed to perform are required by the statute, and section 8 of the Act (par. 328) provides that any copper dealer who knowingly fails to comply with the Act is guilty of a misdemeanor. As applied to this defendant and the charges made against him in the complaint, the statute is not vague or uncertain.

As to defendant's fourth allegation that the provisions of the Act constitute an unauthorized delegation of police power, here again defendant has not indicated what part of the Act he is criticizing. Defendant is charged with violating the requirements of section 3 of the Act (par. 323) referred to above. Although this section of the Act represents an exercise by the legislature of the police power, the question of delegation is not involved in this particular section of the Act. We will not consider this question in this case for the same reasons that we declined to consider the search and seizure question which is discussed later in this opinion.

We have thus disposed of the second, third, fourth and fifth allegations of defendant's motion to dismiss. The remaining allegation, being the first, ...


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