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Ex Parte Ah Pah

October 1911

IN THE MATTER OF THE APPLICATION OF AH PAH FOR A WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS.


James T. Boyd, A. N. Salisbury, and W. D. Jones, for Petitioner.

Cleveland H. Baker, Attorney-General, for Respondent.

By the Court, Sweeney, C. J.:

The petitioner, Ah Pah, was convicted on the 26th day of May, 1911, in the justices's court in Reno, Nevada, for keeping a house of ill-fame within 800 yards of a certain designated schoolhouse, situated in the city of Reno, and sentenced to pay a fine of $50, or, in the event he failed to pay said fine, to serve twenty-five days in the county jail. Failing to pay the fine, petitioner was arrested and taken into legal custody, and now seeks the aid of this court, through habeas corpus proceedings, to relieve him of the judgment, because, as maintained, the section of the law under which he was convicted (Stats. 1911, c. 133) was unconstitutional and void.

It is urged in support of petitioner's contention that the sections in question are unconstitutional upon several grounds, which we will review in the order they are raised.

First, it is contended that the sections are unconstitutional, for the reason that the title of the act in question is in conflict with section 17, article 4, of the constitution of Nevada, which provides: “Each law enacted by the legislature shall embrace but one subject, and matters properly connected therewith, which subject shall be briefly expressed in the title; and no law shall be revised or amended by reference to its title only; but, in such case, the act as revised or section as amended, shall be reenacted and published at length.”

Practically this same constitutional phase was recently before this court for consideration in the case of State ex rel. John Sparks et al. v. State Bank and Trust Company et al., 31 Nev. 456, and this court, in passing upon the question, used this language, which, we believe, analogously reasoning, disposes of this point contrary to the petitioner's contention: “It is claimed that this act is in violation of section 17, article 4, of our state constitution,

[34 Nev. 283, Page 285]

in that the subject of the act is not expressed in the title; that the statute is invalid, because it embraces more than one subject; that the provisions of section 10 [Stats. 1907, c. 119] are in violation of section 20, article 4, of the constitution, which forbids the passage by the legislature of local or special laws regulating the practice of courts of justice; that, because the action is brought in the name of the state, on the relation of the bank commissioners, there is no proper party plaintiff; that section 10 of the statute is void, in that it attempts to delegate to an executive board judicial functions, in violation of section 1, article 3, of the constitution; and that this section of the act denies appellants equal protection of the laws, and is therefore is conflict with section 1 of the fourteenth amendment of the Constitution of the United States. The main principles controlling these questions have been well-nigh settled by this and other courts. That section 17, article 4, of the constitution, providing that ‘each law enacted by the legislature shall embrace but one subject and matters properly connected therewith,' is mandatory must be conceded. In regard to this objection, we need only determine whether this action and the decree of the district court relate to matters germane to the subject expressed in the title of the act, or to what is properly connected therewith. It appears to be admitted that, if the title had simply specified that the act was one regulating or relating to banking, the statute might be sustained, although it is urged, in another division of the brief, that the act is void, because it relates to more than one subject. If it does so relate, the part properly connected with the title would not be void, while the remainder might be open to rejection. If the different provisions of this statute could be deemed sufficiently connected under a title simply designating it as ‘An act relating to banking,' we see no reason why they may not be considered so with a title which designates one or more of the matters to which the others are properly connected. Under the language of the constitution, no necessity appears for requiring separate acts, or even separate

[34 Nev. 283, Page 286]

designations in the title, for all the different provisions in this statute.”

The title of the act under consideration reads as follows: “An act concerning public schools, and repealing certain acts relating thereto.” Sections 217 and 218 (Rev. Laws, 3457, 3458) under which petitioner was convicted, read as follows:

“Sec. 217. It shall be unlawful for any owner or agent of any owner, or any person, to keep any house of ill-fame, or to let or rent to any person whomsoever, for any length of time whatever, to be kept or used as a house of ill-fame, or resort for the purpose of prostitution, any house, room, or structure situated within eight hundred yards of any schoolhouse or schoolroom used by any public or common school in the State of nevada, or within eight hundred yards of any church edifice, building, or structure, erected and used for devotional services or religious worship in the State of Nevada.

“Sec. 218. Any person violating the provisions of section 217 of this act shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction shall be fined not less than twenty-five dollars nor more than three hundred dollars, or to be imprisoned in the county jail not less than five nor more than sixty days, or by both fine and imprisonment, in the discretion of the court.”

The title of the act in question, we believe, sufficiently expresses the subject of the act, and is sufficiently general in its scope to make it illegal to conduct houses of ill-fame within 800 yards of a schoolhouse, and broad enough to avoid the constitutional inhibition invoked. (State ex rel. John Sparks et al. v. State Bank and Trust Company et al., 31 Nev. 456-475; State v. Gibson, 30 Nev. 353; Bell v. District Court, 28 Nev. 280, 1 L. R. A. (N. S.) 843, 113 Am. St. Rep. 854; State v. Ah Sam, 15 Nev. 27, 37 Am. Rep. 454; State v. Commissioners, 22 Nev. 399; Ex Parte Livingston, 20 Nev. 287; State v. Commissioners Humboldt ...


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