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State v. Jobin

Supreme Court of Arizona

October 20, 1941

THE STATE OF ARIZONA, Appellee,
v.
CHARLES JOBIN, Appellant

APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of the County of Pinal. Levi S. Udall, Judge. Judgment affirmed.

Mr. Joe Conway, Attorney General, Mr. Albert M. Garcia, Assistant Attorney General, and Mr. Chas. H. Reed, of Counsel, for Appellee.

Mr. Charlie W. Clark, for Appellant.

OPINION

Page 98

[58 Ariz. 145] LOCKWOOD, C.J.

This is an appeal by Charles Jobin, called defendant, from a judgment pronounced on him, after a verdict by a jury in the superior court of Pinal county finding him guilty of a violation of ordinance number 101, of the city of Casa Grande. The provisions of the ordinance which defendant was found guilty of violating read as follows:

"Section 1. It shall be unlawful for any person... to carry on any trade, calling, profession, occupation or business in this ordinance specified, without first having procured a license from the City of Casa Grande, so to do, or complying with any and all regulations of such trade, profession, occupation or business mentioned in this ordinance... and each day or fractional part of a day that any trade, business, profession or occupation in this ordinance specified is conducted or carried on without such license shall be a misdemeanor...."

"Section 2. As used in this ordinance the term 'peddler' shall include solicitors and other vendors not having a permanent place of business in the City of Casa Grande.... All persons coming within the definition of the occupations defined herein shall pay a quarterly license fee of twenty-five dollars ($25.00) in advance."

[58 Ariz. 146] It was enacted under the provisions of section 16-207, Arizona Code 1939, which reads so far as material as follows:

"General powers of common council enumerated. -- The common council of such town shall have control of the finances, and of the property of the corporation; and shall likewise have power within the limits of the town: ...

"20. To license, tax and regulate... peddlers...."

The ordinance on its face is the ordinary occupational license tax ordinance for the purpose of raising revenue and is, generally speaking, valid. City of Glendale v. Betty, 45 Ariz. 327, 43 P.2d 206. Nor, indeed, does defendant deny this fact. His contention is that if the ordinance is construed to apply to his actions as they appear in the record, it is unconstitutional and void as being in conflict with the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which reads as follows:

"[Religious and political freedom.] Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

The facts as shown by the evidence and found by the jury may be stated as follows: Defendant is a regularly ordained minister of the denomination commonly known as Jehovah's Witnesses, and on August 15, 1940, was going from house to house in the city of Casa Grande preaching the gospel, as he understood it, by means of his spoken word, by playing various religious records on a phonograph, with the approval of the householder, and by distributing printed books, pamphlets and tracts which set forth his views as to the meaning of the Bible. The method of distribution [58 Ariz. 147] of these printed books, pamphlets and tracts was as follows: He first offered them for sale at various prices ranging from five to twenty-five cents each. If the householder did not desire to purchase any of them he then left a small leaflet summarizing some of the doctrines which he preached. In at least two cases, however, he sold a copy of one of the printed books which he had offered for twenty-five cents.

Defendant admitted that he was offering these books and pamphlets for sale regularly in the city of Casa Grande and elsewhere, but stated that in some cases, if the parties did not desire to buy the books but promised to read them carefully, they were given free of charge. He also testified that he was doing this because he believed it was his religious duty to do so. He admitted that not only he had not applied for a ...


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