Appeal from the Circuit Court of Baltimore City; Sodaro, J.
The cause was argued on June 8, 1961, before Henderson, Prescott, Horney, Marbury and Sybert, JJ., and reargued on September 19, 1961, before the full Court. Marbury, J., delivered the opinion of the Court.
This is an appeal by the defendants below from a final decree of the Circuit Court of Baltimore City (Sodaro, J.), dated January 10, 1961. The decree declared that Ordinance No. 437 of the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, approved
August 4, 1960, providing for the regulation of those engaged in the business of becoming surety for compensation in criminal cases, was invalid. The decree enjoined the appellants from acting under or enforcing the provisions of said ordinance, and required costs to be paid by the appellants.
The questions presented below and considered on this appeal are: (1) Did the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore have the authority under its police power to adopt Ordinance No. 437, regulating those engaged in the business of becoming surety for compensation in criminal cases; (2) is Ordinance No. 437 invalid because it provides for additional regulation by the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore of companies already holding licenses issued by the State of Maryland; and (3) does Ordinance No. 437 deny appellees the equal protection of the law?
The appellees filed their bill of complaint for a declaratory decree that Ordinance No. 437 is unconstitutional, arbitrary, discriminatory, and invalid, and prayed that the appellants be restrained and enjoined from acting under or enforcing it.
The appellants filed their demurrer and answer, and pending the outcome of litigation, agreed that they would not enforce the criminal provisions of the ordinance.
Since there was no dispute as to the material facts, and the questions involved being of law to be decided by the court, the parties agreed to submit the case to the court for decision on stipulations.
The appellees are all insurance companies licensed in the State of Maryland by the Insurance Department of the State under Code (1957), Article 48A and, as such, are authorized to engage in the insurance business and the writing of surety bonds within this State. Under such license the companies have been engaged in the writing of bail bonds in Maryland for varying periods of time prior to August 4, 1960, when the ordinance in question, passed by the City Council of Baltimore and approved by the Mayor of Baltimore, was enacted into the local laws of Baltimore City.
The ordinance adds a new section to be known as 21B to
Article 19 of the Baltimore City Code (1950 Edition), title "Licenses", to be under a new subtitle "Bail Bonds".
Its pertinent parts are as follows:
(a) Declares that the business and/or activity of becoming surety for compensation upon bonds in criminal cases is impressed with a public interest.
(1) "Bondsman" as any person, firm or corporation engaged in the business and/or activity of becoming surety for compensation on bonds in criminal cases or any agent, employee or representative of any such person, firm, or corporation.
(2) "Bond" as a corporate or individual bond or the placement of any form of collateral, including cash.
(3) The meaning of the term "criminal case" to include cases involving the violation of any traffic law, ordinance or regulation; the phrase "court having criminal jurisdiction" to include the Criminal Court of Baltimore City, the Traffic Court of Baltimore City, the Police Courts of Baltimore City, and the Magistrates or Justices of the Peace assigned to said courts, and shall include courts which take the place of or supplant the courts specifically mentioned.
(c) Prohibits any bondsman from giving anything of value to any "attorney at law, police officer, sheriff, jailer, probation officer, clerk or other attache of any court having criminal jurisdiction in Baltimore City, or public official, or employee, of any character, for procuring or assisting in procuring any person to employ said bondsman to execute as surety any bond for compensation in any criminal case". This subsection also prohibits any of the designated individuals from accepting anything of value from a bondsman for the proscribed purposes.
(d) Prohibits a bondsman from procuring or suggesting the employment of any attorney in a criminal case.
(e) Prohibits a bondsman from charging a defendant any fee in addition to the regular bonding fee and also prohibits a bondsman from attempting to procure the dismissal of any criminal proceeding.
(f) Requires that a typewritten or printed list alphabetically arranged for all persons ...