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LINE 29-51====We further hold that the assessment imposed by the Chattanooga City Court in City of Chattanooga v. Davis was punitive in its intended purpose and therefore subject to constitutional limitation. As for the assessments imposed in Barrett v. Metropolitan Government, we hold that the actual purpose and effect of all these sanctions were to impose punishment for ordinance violations.
Therefore, the judgment of the Court of Appeals is affirmed as modified and explained below in Davis's case, and the judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed in Barrett's case. Because no court, other than one of general jurisdiction, has been granted the authority to empanel a jury to determine facts or to impose punishment, we reduce each of the unlawful fines imposed in these cases to fifty dollars, the maximum assessment allowed under such circumstances by Article VI, section 14
247—252=== HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF ARTICLE VI, SECTION 14
Article VI, section 14 is unique in the whole of American constitutional law, and no other provision like it may be found either in the Federal Constitution or in any other modern state constitution. Although this provision dates to our first Constitution signed in Knoxville in February 1796, we know little else about its origin
306---311== e also State v. Bryant, 805 S.W.2d 762, 767 (Tenn.1991). Since then, this Court has further recognized that the intent behind limiting the ability to lay fines “was to prevent judges from imposing unreasonable fines, and to prevent confiscation of the citizen's substance under the guise of a statute applied by a judicial tribunal.”
349---353==== Since our decision in City of Chattanooga v. Myers, 787 S.W.2d 921 (Tenn.1990), the law now appears settled that proceedings for a municipal ordinance violation are civil in nature, at least in terms of technical application of procedure and for pursuing avenues of appeal.
638—647==== Examining the relevant textual provisions of the Chattanooga City Code, little doubt can exist that the intended purpose of the penalty imposed on Davis for reckless driving was to punish for the violation of the ordinance. Chattanooga City Code section 24-13(b) sets forth the penalty for reckless driving:
Every person convicted of reckless driving shall be punished upon the first conviction by a fine of not less than five dollars ($5.00), on a second conviction by a fine of not less than ten dollars ($10.00), on a third conviction by a fine of not less than twenty-five dollars ($25.00) and on all subsequent convictions by a fine of not less than fifty dollars ($50.00).
648---653=== As the plain language of the ordinance shows, the intended purpose of the penalty is to punish the offender, and the language does not otherwise suggest any remedial purpose to be served by the fine. The ordinance further provides that the penalty is to be applied only after a “conviction” of the offense, further indicating that the sanction is intended to punish.
672--674== Rather, as applied to the offense of reckless driving in this case, the clearly intended purpose of the City Council in enacting the fine was to impose punishment
we conclude that the clear and predominant intention in imposing a fine for reckless driving is to punish the defendant for the violation of that ordinance.18 Assuming presently that the General Assembly has granted the Chattanooga City Council authority to enact punitive sanctions in excess of fifty dollars,19 we have been unable to locate any statute that confers upon the Chattanooga City Court the power or authority to empanel a jury for this purpose. In fact, our research confirms that only courts of general jurisdiction have the power to empanel a jury to determine facts or to impose punishment.
968---778===-To summarize our conclusions in Barrett's case, we hold that the assessment for the violation of the stop-work order was imposed with the actual purpose and effect of serving as punishment. Although such prospectively coercive fines may be remedial in nature if the defendant is given an opportunity to purge the fine
978---791=== Therefore, because the Davidson County General Sessions Court, like the Chattanooga City Court, has not been given the authority to empanel a jury for any reason, its ability to assess punitive fines is necessarily limited by Article VI, section 14
1105—1110== Unlike the challenge to section 6-54-306, which went to the heart of the City's ability to impose a punitive fine in excess of fifty dollars, the challenge to section 55-10-307 essentially alleges that the Chattanooga City Council was without authority to enact the reckless driving ordinance under which Davis was convicted
1250—1258==== In Ramsey v. Town of Oliver Springs, 998 S.W.2d 207 (Tenn.1999), we recently had the opportunity to examine closely the constitutional and statutory authority of the District Attorney General. In that case, the Anderson County District Attorney General challenged a policy and practice of prosecuting state offenses arising in Anderson County in the Oliver Springs City Court, which is located in Roane County.26 The District Attorney argued that this practice impeded his constitutional and statutory authority to prosecute state offenses. We agreed
1267—1276=== Relying upon our decision in Ramsey, the appellant in this case argues that the authority of the District Attorney General in Hamilton County has been undermined by City of Chattanooga officers who cite all defendants to the city court, even though the conduct of the defendants is likewise proscribed by state law. We do not take these allegations lightly, because the record contains literally volumes of evidence to support this contention. For example, the record indicates that more than ninety city ordinances have been enacted by the City Council that are identical or substantially identical to state offenses dealing with motor vehicle and traffic offenses.
1288—1293=== Circular # 75.” In this circular dated August 16ChattanoChief of Police issued the following order to his officers:
Effective immediately, if an officer issues a traffic citation for a violation in which there is both a state and city violation, the officer is to cite the person for violation of the city ordinance.
1296--1309===In many respects, this practice by the City of Chattanooga perhaps represents the most disturbing aspect of this case. A letter from the District Attorney General to the Chief of Police contained in the record summarizes the problem in clear and unequivocal terms: “Your directive has the potential for allowing state law violators to avoid appropriate punishment, removes my ability to enhance punishment for state law violators[,] and infringes upon my constitutional duty and responsibility to prosecute those who violate the laws of the State of Tennessee.” Indeed, through this “potential” infringement, the City of Chattanooga has received a financial windfall, which, according to the city court judge himself, was a direct result of the City Council passing ordinances that transferred state cases to city court, “thereby allowing the revenues to remain in Chattanooga.” Transcript, Minutes of Chattanooga City Council Meeting, at 1-2 (Sept. 5, 1995).27
1310--1312===Despite the probable unconstitutionality of the policies and practices of the City of Chattanooga, however, we decline to take corrective action at this time.
1362- 1365==Because it is grounded in the organic law of this state, the authority of the District Attorney General to prosecute according to the law must be vindicated in the face of all infringements, no matter their source. Nevertheless,
1383---1399=== The sanction punish the offender for a violation of the ordinance; or (2) despite evidence of remedial intent, the monetary sanction is shown by the “clearest proof” to be so punitive in its actual purpose or effect that it cannot legitimately be viewed as remedial in nature.
Applying this test to the cases before us, we hold that the penalty imposed by the Chattanooga City Court in City of Chattanooga v. Davis was intended to serve as punishment for the violation of an ordinance
1399---1302 The intent to punish is clear on the face of the several municipal ordinances, and nothing in the Chattanooga City Code otherwise indicates that these assessments were truly intended to serve any remedial purpose whatsoever.
w1393---1299===ith regard to Barrett v. Metropolitan Government, we hold that the actual purpose and effect of these sanctions were to impose punishment for violations of the Code of Laws. Although a pecuniary sanction imposed for the failure to comply with a stop-work order may sometimes be characterized as predominantly remedial in its actual purpose and effect, Barrett was given no opportunity to purge the fine by correcting the violatio
1402----1407 Because no court, other than one of general jurisdiction, has been granted the authority to empanel a jury to determine facts or to impose punishment, we reduce each of the unlawful fines imposed in these cases to fifty dollars, the maximum assessment allowed under such circumstances by Article VI, section 14.
1429--1432==However, this holding in no way resolves the challenge raised by the Tennessee District Attorneys General Conference that the city ordinance is in violation of the state law, and we reserve any determination on that issue for later cases.
1434--1439===we conclude that Davis has established a compelling case demonstrating that some policies and practices of the City of Chattanooga infringe upon the District Attorney General's constitutional and statutory authority, in direct violation of our decision in Ramsey v. Town of Oliver Springs, 998 S.W.2d 207 (Tenn.1999).