Wilson v. Eureka City
173 U.S. 32 (1899)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Wilson v. Eureka City, 173 U.S. 32 (1899)

Wilson v. Eureka City

No. 142

Submitted January 17, 1899

Decided February 20, 1899

173 U.S. 32

Syllabus

Section 12 of ordinance No. 10, of Eureka City, providing that

"No person shall move any building or frame of any building, into or upon any of the public streets, lots or squares of the city, or cause the same to be upon, or otherwise to obstruct the free passage of the streets, without the written permission of the mayor, or president of the city council, or in their absence a councillor. A violation of this section shall on conviction, subject the offender to a fine of not to exceed twenty-five dollars,"

is not in conflict with the provisions of the Constitution of the United States.

Section 12 of Ordinance No. 10 of Eureka City, Utah, provided as follows:

"No person shall move any building or frame of any building, into or upon any of the public streets, lots or squares of the city, or cause the same to be upon, or otherwise to obstruct the free passage of the streets, without the written permission of the mayor, or president of the city council, or in their absence a councilor. A violation of this section shall on conviction, subject the offender to a fine of not to exceed twenty-five dollars."

The plaintiff in error was tried for a violation of the ordinance in the justice's court of the city. He was convicted and

Page 173 U. S. 33

sentenced to pay a fine of twenty-five dollars. He appealed to the District Court of the First Judicial District of the Territory of Utah.

On the admission of Utah into the Union, the case was transferred to the Fifth District Court of Juab County, and there tried on the 24th of October, 1896, by the court without a jury, by consent of the parties.

Section 12, supra, was offered and admitted in evidence. Plaintiff in error objected to it on the ground that it was repugnant to Section 1 of Article XIV of the Constitution of the United States in that it delegated an authority to the mayor of the city, or, in his absence, to a councilor.

There was also introduced in evidence an ordinance establishing fire limits within the city, providing that no wooden buildings should be erected within such limits except by the permission of the committee on building, and providing further for the alteration and repair of wooden buildings already erected. The ordinance is inserted in the margin. *

Page 173 U. S. 34

The evidence showed that the plaintiff in error was the owner of a wooden building of the dimensions of twenty by sixteen feet, which was used as a dwelling house. It was constructed prior to the enactment of the ordinances above mentioned. The evidence further showed that plaintiff in error applied to the mayor for permission to move the building along and across Main Street in the city to another place within the fire limits. The mayor refused the permission, stating that, if the desire was to move it outside of the fire limits, permission would be granted. Notwithstanding the refusal, the plaintiff in error moved the building, using blocks and tackle and rollers, and, in doing so, occupied the time between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. At the place where the building stood originally, the street was fifty feet from the houses on one side to those on the other, part of the space being occupied by sidewalks, and the balance by the traveled highway. The distance of removal was two hundred and six feet along and across Main Street. Eureka City was and is a mining town, and had and has a population of about two thousand. It was admitted that the building was moved with reasonable diligence.

The plaintiff in error was again convicted. From the judgment

Page 173 U. S. 35

of conviction he appealed to the supreme court of the state, which court affirmed the judgment, and to the judgment of affirmance this writ of error is directed.

Eureka City has no special charter, but was incorporated under the general incorporation Act of March 8, 1888, and among the powers conferred by it on city councils are the following:

"10. To regulate the use of streets, alleys, avenues, sidewalks, cross-walks, parks, and public grounds."

"11. To prevent and remove obstructions and encroachments upon the same."

The error assigned is that the ordinance is repugnant to the fourteenth amendment of the Constitution of the United States because "thereby the citizen is deprived of his property without due process of law," and "the citizen is thereby denied the equal protection of the law."

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