Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Fourth District; heard
in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Macon County;
the Hon. Rodney A. Scott, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE GOLDENHERSH DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Defendants, the County of Macon, its county treasurer and the clerk of the circuit court, appealed from the judgment of the circuit court of Macon County entered in favor of plaintiff, the City of Decatur, in its action for declaratory judgment. The appellate court affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded with directions (39 Ill. App.3d 799) and thereafter granted a certificate of importance (Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, sec. 3; Rule 316 (58 Ill.2d R. 316)).
The plaintiff city filed a three-count complaint seeking an injunction (count I), a declaratory judgment (count II) and a money judgment (count III). In its decree the circuit court dismissed count I, entered judgment on count II, and found, pursuant to Rule 304 (58 Ill.2d R. 304), that there was no just reason for delaying enforcement or appeal. The decree also ordered an accounting as prayed in count III.
The controversy involved the interpretation of section 16-105 of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 95 1/2, par. 16-105), which in pertinent part provided:
"(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, * * * to the treasurer of the particular city * * * if the violator was arrested by the authorities of the city, * * * provided the police officers and officials of cities * * * 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."
Also relevant is section 16-102 of the Illinois Vehicle Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 95 1/2, par. 16-102), which was amended effective January 1, 1974 (Laws of 1973, at 2787), by deleting the paragraph shown as stricken and adding the paragraph immediately following the deletion:
"Sec. 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.
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."
The facts are not in dispute. Prior to April 1, 1974, when offenses occurred within the limits of the plaintiff city and the city police made the arrest, charged the violator and appeared in court if requested, fines and forfeitures coming into the hands of the defendant clerk of the circuit court as a result of convictions, pleas of guilty or bond forfeitures involving offenses under chapters 11 through 16 of the Illinois Vehicle Code were paid over to the city treasurer. About 75% of the cases involving these offenses were terminated without a court appearance by the prosecution; but if a court appearance was necessary, the State's Attorney's office appeared as prosecutor.
In a letter dated March 12, 1974, addressed to the plaintiff city's corporation counsel, the State's Attorney granted the city "permission to prosecute any traffic offenses set forth in Chapter 95 1/2, sections 11 through 15, inclusive, Illinois Rev. Stat. 1973, which option should be exercised by entering the appearance of the municipal attorney at the first court date fixed in the traffic ticket." The State's Attorney advised the city attorney of the foregoing amendments to section 16-102, and that:
"The undersigned respectfully submits that in view of the authority for the municipalities with the permission of the State's Attorney to prosecute these cases through their own attorney, failure to do so requires that fines collected pursuant to prosecution by the State's Attorney's office will be paid into ...