APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Champaign County; the Hon.
BIRCH E. MORGAN, Judge, presiding.
MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE TRAPP DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Defendant appeals from an order granting summary judgment upon plaintiffs' complaint for declaratory judgment.
The complaint asserted that a controversy existed concerning the prosecution of violations of sections 11-100 through 11-1422 of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 95 1/2, pars. 11-100 through 11-1422), arising from the fact that the State's Attorney referred to section 16-102 *fn1 of that Code as amended effective January 1, 1974, and authorized the respective municipalities in writing to prosecute violations of the several statutory sections of the Illinois Vehicle Code, except sections 11-501 and 11-501.1, when the arrests were made within the corporate limits by the police of the respective municipalities. The letter of the State's Attorney further advised that:
"Effective January 1, 1975, my office will not prosecute traffic offenses within the scope of the foregoing permission."
The complaint further alleged that neither of the municipal bodies had requested the State's Attorney to grant to them the authority to prosecute such violations and that each had requested defendant to continue to prosecute, but that he had refused to do so. The answer of the defendant admits the latter allegations. The prayer of the complaint is for a declaratory judgment that the defendant, as State's Attorney, is required by law to prosecute violations of the Illinois Vehicle Code as described.
Prior to January 1, 1974, the statute at issue provided:
"The State's Attorney of the county in which the violation occurs shall prosecute the violator."
While the complaint does not precisely delineate the issues argued here, plaintiffs contend that the statute, as amended, should be construed to mean that authority or permission to prosecute such traffic violations must be sought and requested by them and that the State's Attorney cannot unilaterally bestow upon, or extend to, municipal officials the authority to prosecute such traffic violations. We read the issue so framed as being, where lies the responsibility to prosecute offenses in the defined category when there has been no request by municipal authorities for permission to prosecute.
Plaintiffs initial argument is directed to the common meaning of the verb "obtain." It is pointed out that Black's Law Dictionary (rev. 4th ed. 1968), as well as standard dictionaries, defines the meaning as "to get hold of by effort." There is doubtful persuasion in such source as a meaning of substantially equal a strength is "to acquire in any way".
We have examined the transcripts of the proceedings in the respective Houses of the Legislature incident to the adoption of the amendment. See Ill. Const. art. IV, § 7(b).
The statutory amendment, as first proposed in the House, provided:
"The municipal attorney in the city in which a violation occurs may prosecute the violator. The State's Attorney of the county in which the violation occurs shall prosecute all violations not otherwise prosecuted."
A subsequent amendment in the House provided:
"The Municipal attorney in the city or village in which a violation occurs shall prosecute the violator, unless the State's Attorney of the county in which the violation ...