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RONALD A. PETERSON, SHERIFF OF HANCOCK COUNTY, AND JERRY D. HEITZMANN, CIRCUIT CLERK OF HANCOCK COUNTY, MS v. SIDNEY A. SANDOZ

MAY 30, 1984

RONALD A. PETERSON, SHERIFF OF HANCOCK COUNTY, AND JERRY D. HEITZMANN, CIRCUIT CLERK OF HANCOCK COUNTY, MS
v.
SIDNEY A. SANDOZ



BEFORE PATTERSON, C.J., HAWKINS & PRATHER, JJ.

PATTERSON, CHIEF JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

Sidney A. Sandoz, a licensed professional bail bondsman, brought suit for a declaratory judgment under Rule 57 of the Mississippi Rules of Civil Procedure against Ronald A. Peterson, the Sheriff, and Jerry D. Heitzmann, the Circuit Clerk of Hancock County, in the Circuit Court of that county. Sandoz alleged that Section 2 of Senate Bill #3027, passed during the 1983 Legislative Session, was unconstitutional and void. That bill provides:

Section 2. Upon every person licensed as a professional bondsman pursuant to Chapter 39, Title 83, Mississippi Code of 1972, there is hereby imposed for each bond which he takes that is conditioned for the appearance at trial of a person charged with a criminal offense, a fee equal to one percent (1%) of the face value of each bond or Five Dollars ($5.00), whichever is greater.

 Sandoz contended the statute was arbitrary, capricious, and discriminatory inasmuch as the greater of 1% of the face value of the bond or Five Dollars ($5.00) is assessed only against professional bail bondsmen while other types of bonds are not so subjected. By way of illustration, and not as a conclusive listing, Sandoz noted that cash bonds, insurer bonds, property bonds and other types of bail bonds, among others, were exempted.

 Sandoz contends the statute was defective because it discriminated within a classification. Peterson and Heitzmann denied that this was so. The trial judge found

 the challenged section unconstitutional and Peterson and Heitzmann appeal, assigning as error:

 I. The trial court erred in holding Section 2 of Senate Bill #3027, Laws of 1983, was discriminatory and violated the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution.

 II. The trial court erred in holding Section 2 of Senate Bill #3027, Laws of 1983, was arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable.

 III. The trial court erred in holding Section 2 of Senate Bill #3027, Laws of 1983, was conflicting.

 IV. The trial court erred in holding that Section 2 of Senate Bill #3027, Laws of 1983, was unconstitutional.

 The permissible scope of taxation has long been announced." Common justice requires that taxation, as far as possible, should be equal. . . "Society for Savings v. Coite, 73 U.S. (6th Wall.) 594, 609, 18 L.Ed. 897, 903 (1867).

 It is stated in Walters v. City of St. Louis, 347 U.S. 231, 237, 74 S. Ct. 505, 509, 98 L.Ed. 660, 665-66 (1954), that:

 Equal protection does not require identity of treatment. It only requires that classification rest on real and not feigned differences, that the distinction have some relevance to the purpose for which the classification is made, and that the different treatments be not so disparate, relative to the difference in classification, as to be wholly arbitrary. Cf. Dominion Hotel, Inc. v. Arizona, 249 U.S. 265, 39 S. Ct. 273, 63 L.Ed. 597; Great Atlantic & P. Tea Co. v. Grosjean, 301 U.S. 412, 57 S. Ct. 772, 81 L.Ed. 1193; New York Rapid Transit Corp. v. New York, 303 U.S. 573, 58 S. Ct. 721, 82 L.Ed. 1024; Skinner v. Oklahoma, 316 U.S. 535, 62 S. Ct. 1110, 86 L.Ed. 1655;" In its discretion it may tax all, or it may tax one or some, taking care to accord to all in the same class equality of rights. "Southwestern Oil Co. v. Texas, 217 U.S. 114, 121, 30 S. Ct. 496, 54 L.Ed. 688, 692.

 Kahn v. Shevin, 416 U.S. 351, 94 S. Ct. 1734, 40 L.Ed.2d 189 (1974), held that a Florida statute which gave a $500.00 tax exemption to ...


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