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ST. JOHN v. NEW YORK

April 16, 1906

ST. JOHN
v.
NEW YORK



ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK

Fuller, Harlan, Brewer, Brown, White, Peckham, McKenna, Holmes, Day

Author: Mckenna

[ 201 U.S. Page 633]

 MR. JUSTICE MCKENNA delivered the opinion of the court.

Plaintiff in error is a non-producing wholesale and retail milk dealer in the city of Buffalo, New York. In February, 1903,

[ 201 U.S. Page 634]

     he exposed for sale and sold a quantity of milk in violation of sections 20 and 22 of chapter 338 of the laws of New York for the year 1893, and its amendments and supplements, in that the said milk contained more than 88% of water and less than 12% of milk solids, to wit, 89.24% of water and 10.36% of milk solids.

The Commissioner of Agriculture of the State in pursuance of said laws filed a complaint against plaintiff in error in the Supreme Court of the State, charging him with the violation of the laws, and that it was his second offense. Judgment was prayed for the sum of $200 in pursuance of section 37. Plaintiff in error admitted the charge, but alleged in defense that the laws were in contravention of section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States; also of the constitution of New York.

At the trial he offered to show that the milk from which the sample exhibited in the case was taken was in the same condition when the sample was taken as it was when it left the herd of the producer. The testimony was rejected and plaintiff in error excepted. The court directed the jury to find a verdict against him for $100 and costs, which was done. He excepted to the ruling. Under the procedure in New York the court ordered the exceptions to be heard in the Appellate Division. In that court the exceptions were overruled, a motion for a new trial was denied and judgment entered on the verdict. On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment, and the record and proceedings were remanded to the Supreme Court, where judgment was entered in accordance with the remittitur from the Court of Appeals. This writ of error was then sued out

The purpose of the law which is assailed is to prevent the sale of adulterated and unwholesome milk. Section 20*fn1 defines

[ 201 U.S. Page 635]

     what milk shall be deemed adulterated, and it gives a very comprehensive meaning to the word. Section 22 prohibits the sale or offering for sale of such milk, or "any unclean, impure, unhealthy, adulterated or unwholesome milk." Section 7 makes intention immaterial. Section 37 provides for the forfeiture to the People of the State of New York of not less than $50 for the first violation of the law, and increased sums for second and subsequent violations, and also makes violations of the law misdemeanors. Section 12 is the one which is especially complained of. It was materially amended in 1898, and is (omitting matter not necessary to quote) as follows:

"SEC. 12. Inspection, how conducted. . . . In taking samples of milk for analysis at a creamery, factory, platform or other place where the same is delivered by the producer for manufacture, sale or shipment, or from a milk vendor who produces the milk which he sells, with a view of prosecuting the producer of such milk for delivering, selling or offering for sale adulterated milk, the said Commissioner of Agriculture or assistant or his agent or agents shall, within ten days thereafter, with the consent of said producer, take a sample in a like manner of the mixed milk of the herd of cows from which the milk first sampled ...


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