154 U.S. 134 (1894), 1062, St. Clair v. United States

Docket Nº:No. 1062
Citation:154 U.S. 134, 14 S.Ct. 1002, 38 L.Ed. 936
Party Name:St. Clair v. United States
Case Date:May 26, 1894
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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154 U.S. 134 (1894)

14 S.Ct. 1002, 38 L.Ed. 936

St. Clair

v.

United States

No. 1062

United States Supreme Court

May 26, 1894

        Submitted March 5, 1894

        ERROR TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED

        STATES FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

        Syllabus

        An indictment for murder which charges that the offense was committed on board of an American vessel on the high seas, within the jurisdiction of the court and within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States, sufficiently avers the locality of the offense.

        An indictment which charges that A, B, and C, acting jointly, killed and murdered D, is sufficient to authorize the conviction of one, though the others may be acquitted.

        A charge in an indictment that the accused did then and there, piratically, willfully, feloniously, and with malice aforethought, strike and beat the said D, then and there giving to said D several grievous, damaging, and mortal wounds, and did then and there, to-wit at the time and place last above mentioned, him, the said D, cast and throw from and out of the said vessel into the sea, and plunge, sick, and drown him, the said D, in the sea aforesaid, sufficiently charges that the throwing into the sea was done willfully, feloniously, and with malice aforethought.

        An indictment being found after the trial jury had been properly discharged,

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the court may order a venire to issue for persons to serve as jurors, and may further direct the marshal to summon talesmen.

        Rule 63 of the court below is not inconsistent with any settled principle of criminal law, and does not interfere with the selection of impartial juries.

        Circumstances attending a particular transaction under investigation by a jury, if so interwoven with each other and with the principal facts that they cannot well be separated without depriving the jury of proof that is essential in order to reach a just conclusion, are admissible in evidence.

        On the trial under an indictment charging that A, B, and C, acting jointly, killed and murdered P, without charging that they were co-conspirators, evidence of the acts of B and C are admissible against A if part of the res gestae.

        A party may show that the testimony of one of his witnesses has taken him by surprise, and that it is contrary to the examination of him preparatory to the trial, or to what the party had reason to believe that the witness would testify, or that the witness had been recently brought under the influence of the other party and had deceived the party calling him.

        The certificate of the vessel's registry and proof that she carried the flag of the United States were properly admitted on the trial of this case, and established a prima facie case of proper registry under the laws of the United States, and of the nationality of the vessel and its owners.

        When no exception is taken on the trial of a person accused of crime to the action of the court below on a particular matter, that action is not subject to review here, although the statutes and practice of the state in which the trial takes place provide otherwise.

        In criminal proceedings, all parts of the record must be interpreted together so as to give effect to every part, if possible, and a deficiency in one part may be supplied by what appears elsewhere in the record.

       [14 S.Ct. 1003] In February, 1893, the grand jury impaneled in the District Court of the United States for the Northern District of California returned into that court an indictment charging that Thomas St. Clair, Herman Sparf, and Hans Hansen, mariners, late of that district, on the 13th day of January, 1893, with force and arms, on the high seas, and within the jurisdiction of the court, and within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the Unites states, and out of the jurisdiction of any particular state of the United States, in and on board of an American vessel, the bark Hesper, belonging to a citizen or citizens of the United States, whose name or names are or were to the grand jurors unknown, did, with a certain instrument

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or weapon (the character and name of which were to the grand jury unknown) then and there held in the hands of one of the defendants (but of which particular one was to the grand jurors unknown),

then and there, piratically, willfully, feloniously, and with malice aforethought, strike and beat the said Maurice Fitzgerald, then and there giving to the said Maurice Fitzgerald several grievous, dangerous, and mortal wounds, and did then and there, to-wit at the time and place last above mentioned, him, the said Maurice Fitzgerald, cast and throw from and out of the said vessel into the sea, and plunge, sink, and drown him, the said Maurice Fitzgerald, in the sea aforesaid, of which said mortal wounds, casting, throwing, plunging, sinking, and drowning, the said Maurice Fitzgerald, in and upon the high seas aforesaid, out of the jurisdiction of any particular state of the United States of America, then and there instantly died.

And the grand jurors aforesaid, upon their oath aforesaid, do say that, by reason of the casting and throwing the said Maurice Fitzgerald in the sea as aforesaid, they cannot describe the said mortal wounds, or the character and nature of said weapon or instrument. And so the grand jurors aforesaid, upon their oath aforesaid, do say that the said Thomas St. Clair, Herman Sparf, and Hans Hansen, him, the said Maurice Fitzgerald at the time and place as aforesaid, upon the high seas as aforesaid, out of the jurisdiction of any particular State of the United States of America, in and upon the said American vessel, within the jurisdiction of the United States of America, and of the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the said United States of America and of this Court, in the manner and form aforesaid, piratically, willfully, feloniously, and with malice aforethought, did kill and murder, against the peace and dignity of the United States of America, and contrary to the form of the statute of the said United States of America in such case made and provided.

        It was also averred that the Northern District of California was the district into which St. Clair, Sparf, and Hansen were first brought after committing said offense.

        The indictment was based upon section 5339 of the Revised

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Statutes, providing, among other things, that:

Every person who commits murder . . . upon the high seas or in any arm of the sea, or in any river, haven, creek, basin, or bay within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States, and out of the jurisdiction of any particular state; or who, upon any such waters, maliciously strikes, stabs, wounds, poisons, or shoots at any other person, of which striking, stabbing, wounding, poisoning, or shooting such other person dies, either on land or at sea, within or without the United States, shall suffer death.

        On motion of the district attorney, the indictment was remitted for trial to the circuit court, where the defendants were arraigned, and severally pleaded not guilty. Rev.Stat. section 1039.

       Subsequently the pleas of not guilty were withdrawn, and the defendants jointly demurred to the indictment upon these grounds: 1. that it did not state facts constituting a [14 S.Ct. 1004] public offense; 2. that it was uncertain in not showing upon what portion of the high seas the alleged offense was committed or which one of the defendants committed the alleged assault, or whether one or more of the defendants committed any of the acts alleged against them.

        The demurrer was overruled, and the defendants, being again arraigned, pleaded not guilty.

        A motion for a separate trial of the defendants was made and granted, and the trial of St. Clair was had separately.

        At the beginning of the trial, the accused challenged the panel of the trial jurors, and the challenge was denied.

        The facts in reference to the challenging of jurors are as follows:

        On the 1st day of February, 1893, a day of the term of the circuit court commencing November 28, 1892, an order was made and entered directing a venire to issue, summoning fifty persons to serve as trial jurors, returnable February 14, 1893. Pursuant to that order, a venire containing fifty names drawn from the regular jury box of the court was issued for those persons to act as petit or trial jurors. At the time of the drawing, there were at least three hundred names in the jury

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box, but of those, a part were names remaining after previous drawings at former terms of the court and the others were names placed therein by the proper officers just previous to the drawing of said venire to make the whole number of names, up to and including the full number of three hundred. The persons whose names were contained in that venire were duly summoned, and appeared on the 14th day of February, 1893, with the exception of three who had in the mean time been excused by the court. Thereafter, on the second day of March, 1893, a day of the term commencing on the first Monday of February, 1893, the following order was made and caused to be entered:

There being no further business to be brought before them, it is ordered that the trial jury of said circuit court, for the present February term thereof, be discharged, and paid for their attendance.

        On the 6th day of May, 1893, the indictment against St. Clair, Sparf, and Hansen was, as already stated, remitted to the circuit court from the district court.

        On the 29th day of May, 1893, a day of the February term, after the discharge of the regular jury for the term, the court entered an order directing a venire to...

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