This action is in the nature of quo warranto, brought by the attorney general upon his own information, pursuant to section 1948 of the Code of Civil Procedure. The action is primarily against certain persons alleged to have usurped and entered into the office of city magistrates in the boroughs constituting the Second division in the city of New York. Pursuant to section 1954 of the Code, the persons who claim to have been elected to said offices, and rightfully entitled thereto, are also made defendants.
The complaint proceeds upon the theory that under section 1392 of the Revised Charter of New York City, enacted in 1901, there was a valid election in the fall of that year, at which certain persons were elected to the office of city magistrates in the boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, and Richmond, who are prevented from discharging the duties thereof and receiving the emoluments belonging thereto by the unlawful usurpation of said office by the defendants above named. Said defendants, by their answer, challenge the constitutional validity of said charter provisions, and allege their own legal incumbency of said office pursuant to legal appointments made prior to said election. To this answer the plaintiffs interposed a demurrer on the ground that it is insufficient in law.
For the purposes of administration of criminal justice, the greater city of New York, under its original charter, enacted in 1897, was divided into two divisions. In the first division were the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx; in the second the boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, and Richmond. Section 1390. When said charter went into effect, the office of city magistrate was in existence in the former city of New York, having been established by chapter 601 of the Laws of 1895. Section 1392 of said charter provided that the city magistrates in office when it took effect should continue to hold their office until the expiration of their respective terms, and should be known as the city magistrates of the First division; that their successors should be appointed in the same manner, and have the same powers and duties, as provided by said chapter 601, Laws 1895. The act just referred to provided that such magistrates should be appointed by the mayor for terms of 10 years. On account of the different conditions which prevailed in the boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, and Richmond, the charter provisions relating to the office of city magistrate in these boroughs were more elaborate than those above summarized.