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City of Decatur v. Curry

OPINION FILED JUNE 24, 1976.

THE CITY OF DECATUR, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

JOHN T. CURRY, CLERK OF THE CIRCUIT COURT OF MACON COUNTY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Macon County; the Hon. RODNEY A. SCOTT, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE GREEN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied August 3, 1976.

Effective January 1, 1974, section 16-102 of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 95 1/2, par. 16-102) was amended to authorize municipal attorneys to prosecute State charges for traffic violations occurring within the corporate limits of their municipality "if written permission to do so is obtained from the State's Attorney." This case concerns the question of the effect, if any, of the amendment upon the disposition of fines and forfeitures for such traffic violations, as provided in section 16-105 of the Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 95 1/2, par. 16-105) which was not amended.

Plaintiff, the City of Decatur, Illinois, a municipal corporation, filed a three-count complaint in the Circuit Court of Macon County against defendants John T. Curry, Clerk of the Circuit Court of Macon County, the County of Macon, Illinois, and Frank A. Meara, County Treasurer and ex officio County Collector of the County of Macon, Illinois. Neither Count I nor a counterclaim of defendants is before us on review. Count II requested a declaratory judgment that traffic fines collected from offenses arising under chapters 11-15 of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 95 1/2, pars. 11-100 to 15-319), where based on traffic citations issued by city police officers and committed in the city, be declared payable to the City of Decatur. Count III requested a specific monetary judgment against the county for traffic fines collected since April 1, 1974.

The parties agreed to the following facts: That prior to April 1, 1974, fines for offenses committed in the city where violators were arrested by city police and where city police appeared in court, or where fines were paid without a court appearance, were paid to the city. That the fines and penalties in dispute were for offenses committed within the city in violation of chapters 11-15 of the Motor Vehicle Code. That on all offenses where a court appearance was required the State's Attorney's office appeared as prosecutor. That 75% of such cases were terminated without any court appearance. That on March 12, 1974, the State's Attorney of Macon County sent a letter to the corporation counsel of the City of Decatur granting the City permission to prosecute said traffic offenses. That after April 1, 1974, the State's Attorney of Macon County continued to appear in all such traffic cases requiring an appearance. That after April 1, 1974, all fines collected by the circuit court in such cases were deposited with the county treasurer. That since April 1, 1974, no fines and penalties have been paid to the city treasurer for offenses committed within the city where city police officers appeared in court when required, nor has there been payment to the city for offenses paid by violators directly to the circuit clerk. That in connection with the prosecution of offenses by the State's Attorney's office, where a court appearance was required, a State's Attorney fee of $5 was charged by the court and collected with the fine and deposited with the county treasurer. That the fines collected for offenses committed within the city where arrests were made by city police officers and where city police appeared in court when required were in excess of $50,000. That at all times city police have arrested violators within the city for the enumerated violations and have appeared in court for prosecution purposes when an appearance was required.

The trial court found for the plaintiff as to Count II, ruling that it was entitled to all fines and forfeitures involving traffic offenses committed upon the streets and highways within its corporate limits where violators were arrested and charged by the police and the officers appeared in court when required. An accounting was ordered pursuant to Count III for a disposition consistent with the ruling as to Count II. The trial court found that there was no just reason to delay enforcement of or appeal from the decree. Defendants then timely filed notice of appeal.

Prior to 1973, sections 16-102 and 16-105 of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 95 1/2, pars. 16-102, 16-105) provided as follows:

"§ 16-102. Arrests — Investigations — Prosecutions. The State Police shall patrol the public highways and make arrests for violation of the provisions of this Act.

The Secretary of State, through the investigators provided for in this Act shall investigate and report violations of the provisions of this Act in relation to the equipment and operation of vehicles as provided for in Section 2-115 and for such purposes these investigators have and may exercise throughout the State all of the powers of constables and police officers.

The State's Attorney of the county in which the violation occurs shall prosecute the violator."

"§ 16-105. Disposition of fines and forfeitures. (a) Fines and penalties recovered under the provisions of Chapters 11 through 16 inclusive of this Act shall be paid and used as follows:

1. For offenses committed upon a highway within the limits of a city, village, or incorporated town or under the jurisdiction of any park district, to the treasurer of the particular city, village, incorporated town or park district, if the violator was arrested by the authorities of the city, village, incorporated town or park district, provided the police officers and officials of cities, villages, incorporated towns and park districts shall seasonably prosecute for all fines and penalties under this Act. If the violation is prosecuted by the authorities of the county, any fines or penalties recovered shall be paid to the county treasurer. * * *" (Emphasis added.)

The amendment to Section 102 restated the last paragraph of that section as follows:

"The State's Attorney of the county in which the violation occurs shall prosecute all violations except when the violation occurs within the corporate limits of a municipality, the municipal attorney may prosecute if written permission to do so is obtained from the State's Attorney. ...


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