Osborne v. Florida
164 U.S. 650 (1897)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Osborne v. Florida, 164 U.S. 650 (1897)

Osborne v. Florida

No. 87

Argued December 8, 1896

Decided January 4, 1897

164 U.S. 650

Syllabus

The license tax imposed upon express companies doing business in Florida by § 9 of the statute of that state, approved June 2, 1893, c. 4115, as construed by the Supreme Court of that state, applies solely to business of the company within the state, and does not apply to or affect its business which is interstate in its character, and, being so construed, the statute does not, in any manner, violate the federal Constitution.

The construction of the state statute below is not open to review.

F. R. Osborne, the plaintiff in error, was arrested in the State of Florida for an alleged violation of a statute of that state in knowingly acting as the agent at Jacksonville, for the Southern Express Company, a corporation created under the laws of the Georgia and doing business in Florida, without having paid the license provided for by statute. He was required to give a bond for his appearance before the criminal court of record of Duval County, in the Florida, to answer the charge, and upon his refusal to give the same, he was committed to the common jail of the county there to await trial. He then applied to the judge of the state circuit court for a writ of habeas corpus, and upon the hearing, his arrest was adjudged to be legal, and he was remanded to the custody of the sheriff. The case was submitted to the circuit court upon an agreed statement of facts as follows:

"That the said F. R. Osborne is the agent of the Southern Express Company, and that said company is a corporation created, existing and being under the laws of the Georgia; that said Southern Express Company is doing a business in the Florida ordinarily done by express companies in the United States of carrying goods and freight for hire from points within the State of Florida to points in said state, and also of carrying goods and freights for hire from points within the State of Florida to points without the State of Florida in other states in divers

Page 164 U. S. 651

parts of the United States, and in carrying goods and freights for hire from points in other States of the United States to points within the State of Florida, and that it has been engaged in such business for more than twenty years, and was so engaged on the 3d day of October, 1893; that of the business done by the Southern Express Company, 95 per cent thereof consists of traffic carrying of goods and freights from the State of Florida into other States, and bringing and carrying from other States of the United States to points within the State of Florida, and 5 per cent thereof consists of carrying goods and freights between points wholly within the State of Florida; that F. R. Osborne did knowingly act as the agent of said express company on the 3d day of October, 1893, in the City of Jacksonville, Duval County, Florida, a city having more than 15,000 inhabitants, the said Southern Express Company having then and there failed and refused to pay the license tax as required by article 12, section 9, of an act entitled 'An act for the assessment and collection of revenue' of the laws of Florida, approved June 2, 1893; that the Southern Express Company does business in and has agents in more than one town in nearly every county in the state, and that said towns differ in population, and that it has an office and agent and does business in Polk County, Florida, in the following incorporated towns, with a population as follows: Bartow, 1500 inhabitants, Ft. Meade, 600 inhabitants, Columbia, 600 inhabitants, Lakeland, 800 inhabitants, and Winter Haven, 200 inhabitants. In Orange County, Apopka, 500 inhabitants, Orlando, 10,000 inhabitants, Sanford, 5,000 inhabitants, Umatilla, 3,000 inhabitants, Winter Park, 600 inhabitants, and Zellwood, 300 inhabitants. In Alachua County: Campville, 400 inhabitants, Archer, 150 inhabitants, Grove Park, 110 inhabitants, Gainesville, 5,000 inhabitants, Hawthorne, 300 inhabitants, High Springs, 500 inhabitants, and Island Grove, 200 inhabitants. In Duval County: Jacksonville, with a population of over 15,000, Baldwin, 125 inhabitants."

From the order committing plaintiff in error to the custody of the sheriff, an appeal was taken to the Supreme Court of

Page 164 U. S. 652

the State of Florida, and that court affirmed the order. Osborne v. State, 33 Fla. 162. The plaintiff in error then sued out a writ of error from this Court.

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