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01/05/95 BETH MARTINEZ v. COUNTY STEPHENSON

January 5, 1995

BETH MARTINEZ, ON BEHALF OF HERSELF AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFF AND COUNTERDEFENDANT-APPELLEE,
v.
THE COUNTY OF STEPHENSON, DEFENDANT AND COUNTERPLAINTIFF-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Stephenson County. No. 92-CH-37. Honorable Lawrence A. Smith, Jr., Judge, Presiding.

The Honorable Justice Inglis delivered the opinion of the court: McLAREN, P.j., and Geiger, J., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Inglis

JUSTICE INGLIS delivered the opinion of the court:

We are called upon to decide whether section 47 of the Fees and Salaries Act (section 47) (55 ILCS 45/47 (West 1992)) requires a county to pay per diem and mileage fees to residents of that county who are witnesses in criminal trials. We hold that there is no such obligation and that section 47 requires a county to reimburse only witnesses who are required to attend from a foreign county or State. Therefore, we reverse the trial court's declaratory judgment in favor of plaintiff, Beth Martinez, and against defendant, the County of Stephenson (County).

The crucial facts are not in dispute. At all relevant times, plaintiff has resided in Stephenson County. In July 1992, pursuant to a subpoena issued by the County's State's Attorney, plaintiff testified as a State witness in a criminal trial. The defendant in the criminal trial was convicted of domestic battery and sentenced to conditional discharge. The judgment of conviction ordered him to pay certain costs, but the expenses plaintiff now seeks were not included in those costs.

Plaintiff sued the County for a judgment declaring that the county owed her witness fees of $20.40, representing $20 for the one day she attended the trial and 20 cents for each of the two miles she traveled between her home in Stephenson County and the courthouse. Plaintiff invoked section 47, which states:

"Every witness attending in any county upon trials in the courts shall be entitled to receive the sum of $20.00 for each day's attendance and 20 cents per mile each way for necessary travel. For attending in a foreign county, each day's travel shall constitute a day of attendance. Every person attending for the purpose of having his deposition taken shall receive the same per diem and mileage as provided in this section for witnesses in circuit courts: Provided, no allowance or charge shall be made for the attendance of witnesses aforesaid unless the witness shall make affidavit of the number of days he or she actually attended, and that such attendance was at the instance of one or both of the parties or his attorney. In criminal cases where a witness shall be required to attend from a foreign county or state, either before the grand jury or at the trial of the cause in court, he shall receive the same per diem and mileage as above provided for witnesses in circuit courts to be paid out of the county treasury of the county where the crime was committed on the certificate of the clerk of the court where the trial being had: Provided, he shall make affidavit of the distance traveled, that it was the usually traveled and most direct route, of the number of days' actual travel and attendance, and that such attendance was at the instance of the State's Attorney or the accused, or his attorney, to which shall be added the certificate of the judge that the amount is reasonable and that he was a material witness in the court or before the grand jury." (Emphasis added.) 55 ILCS 45/47 (West 1992).

The County filed an answer and counterclaim asserting that, as a matter of law, it is not liable to plaintiff under section 47. The County does not now assert that plaintiff's application for fees was formally defective in any way. Rather, the County argued at the trial level, and reiterates on appeal, that section 47 does not obligate a county to pay the fees of any witness who resides within the county, at least where (as here) the county has not received or appropriated any money for that purpose. Rather, in criminal cases, a county's liability under section 47 is limited to witnesses who, in the language of the statute, are "required to attend from a foreign county or state."

The trial court deferred plaintiff's motion to certify the cause as a class action. The court ruled that the County was required to pay plaintiff the requested witness fees. The County timely appealed.

On appeal, the County argues that the trial court's construction of section 47 is erroneous. The County acknowledges that the statute's first sentence (emphasized above) appears to be an unqualified command that all witnesses in all cases are to receive fees, regardless of the type of case or the residence of the witness. However, the County observes that the first sentence does not specify the source of the compensation to be paid in-county witnesses -- i.e., whether these costs are to be paid, if at all, by the public (via the county treasury) or by the defendant. The County contrasts the general language of the first sentence with the specific language of the fourth sentence (which we have also emphasized), which explicitly commands county reimbursement for out-of-county witnesses in criminal cases and makes no mention of in-county witnesses.

The County argues that the specific language of the fourth sentence controls the more general language of the first sentence. The County argues further that the history and purposes of section 47 militate in favor of limiting public reimbursement to witnesses who have attended from outside the county. We agree.

Any right to recover witness fees depends on statute. At common law, no witness fees were paid ( Dixon v. People (1897), 168 Ill. 179, 181, 48 N.E. 108), and there is no constitutional right to compensation for performing the public duty to testify in court upon being properly summoned. ( Hurtado v. United States (1973), 410 U.S. 578, 588-89, 35 L. Ed. 2d 508, 518, 93 S. Ct. 1157, 1164; Blair v. United States (1919), 250 U.S. 273, 281, 63 L. Ed. 979, 982-83, 39 S. Ct. 468, 471.) Thus, the proper result in this case is purely a matter of statutory interpretation.

The primary goal of statutory interpretation is to ascertain and give effect to the intent of the legislature. ( Kraft, Inc. v. Edgar (1990), 138 Ill. 2d 178, 189, 149 Ill. Dec. 286, 561 N.E.2d 656.) Although the language that the legislature actually used is our starting point in divining this intent, the words must receive a sensible construction "even though such construction qualifies the universality of its language." ( In re Illinois Bell Switching Station Litigation (1994), 161 Ill. 2d 233, 246, 204 Ill. Dec. 216, 641 N.E.2d 440.) The statute should be evaluated as a whole, with each provision being construed in connection with every other section. ( Bonaguro v. County Officers Electoral Board (1994), 158 Ill. 2d 391, 397, 199 Ill. Dec. 659, 634 N.E.2d 712.) A court should avoid a construction which renders part of the statute superfluous or meaningless. ( Bonaguro, 158 Ill. 2d at 397.) Specific language controls over more general language ( People v. Singleton (1984), 103 Ill. 2d 339, 345, 82 Ill. Dec. 666, 469 N.E.2d 200), and the enumeration of one thing in a statute implies the exclusion of all others ( Baker v. Miller (1994), 159 Ill. 2d 249, 260, 201 Ill. Dec. 119, 636 N.E.2d 551). That which is implied in a statute is as much a part of it as that which is expressed. Baker, 159 Ill. 2d at 260.

In ascertaining the intent of the legislature, a court may consider the reason and necessity for the law, the evils to be remedied, and the objects to be attained. ( State Farm Fire & Casualty Co. v. Yapejian (1992), 152 Ill. 2d 533, 541, 178 Ill. Dec. 745, 605 N.E.2d 539.) Statutes that address the same subject matter are in pari materia and, if possible, should receive harmonious and consistent constructions. ( Williams v. Illinois State Scholarship Comm'n (1990), 139 Ill. 2d 24, 52, 150 Ill. Dec. ...


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