20 Ga. 156 (Ga. 1856), 33, Jesse v. State

Docket Nº:33.
Citation:20 Ga. 156
Opinion Judge:MCDONALD, J.
Party Name:JESSE (a slave) plaintiff in error, v. THE STATE, defendant.
Attorney:R. F. LYON, for plaintiff in error. Sol. Gen. EVANS, for defendant.
Court:Supreme Court of Georgia

Page 156

20 Ga. 156 (Ga. 1856)

JESSE (a slave) plaintiff in error,


THE STATE, defendant.

No. 33.

Supreme Court of Georgia.

June, 1856

[1.] The Act of 1856, in relation to the qualification, selection and impanneling Juries, is constitutional, and applies to trials for offences committed before its passage.

[2.] Deafness is an infirmity for which, like ordinary sickness, the Court may excuse a Juror without the consent of the prisoner.

[3.] The refusal of the Court to allow a re-examination of a witness, merely to have her testimony taken down, which had been omitted inadvertently— the Court would, no doubt, allow that to be done, if the parties could not agree as to the evidence.

[4.] Witness may be recalled to explain her evidence.

[5.] It is the duty of the Jury, in making up their verdict, to weigh the whole evidence; and in doing this, they may consider the manner of the witnesses in giving their evidence; but manner is not always a safe criterion of the credit due to a witness.

[6.] The fact that a person accused of a crime did not fly, is but an equivocal evidence of his innocence.

[7.] If there be a reasonable doubt resting upon the minds of the Jury, whether the crime charged was committed, they ought to acquit.

[8.] The statement of the effect that a reasonable doubt resting on the mind of the Jury should have on their finding, is not an explanation of what is to be understood by a reasonable doubt.

[9.] Circumstances not in proof cannot be considered by the Jury.

[10.] The Jury cannot go beyond the evidence submitted in the cause, to raise doubts in their minds as to the guilt of the accused.

[11.] No error for the Court to charge the Jury that they are not responsible for the effect of their verdict, where prisoner's Counsel insists on the punishment annexed by 1aw to the officer, to influence the verdict.

[12.] If affidavit of witness, inconsistent with the testimony delivered on trial, be relied on to impeach her, it may be explained and shown to have been given under circumstances not implicative of her character or integrity. (See 4.) And when her evidence is attempted to be impeached by the proof of counter statements under oath, she may be supported by the proof of consistency in her statements.

[13.] A witness who makes an affidavit, which is untrue, without knowing its contents, and having no reason to know them, is not worthy of credit; but not so, if the affidavit is drawn from witness' statements, which are true, but erroneously written by the draftsman.

[14.] No error for the Court to instruct the Jury emphatically in regard to the form of their verdict, if it be not done in a manner to impress the minds of the Jury unfavorably to one of the parties.

Indictment for rape, in Decatur.

Tried before Judge ALLEN, June Term, 1856.

Jesse (a slave) was arraigned for trial at said term, upon an indictment containing two counts: one for rape, and the other for an assault with intent to commit a rape. The parties then being ready, and proceeding to form a Jury to try the case, the first Juror on the panel, John Smith, was called and put directly upon the prisoner, who objected to the mode of putting the Juror on him, insisting that before the Juror could be put on him, the prisoner, it was necessary to present the Juror to the accused, so that objections might be made, as to his competency as a Juror, if any existed; and that if then no objections should be made, the Sol. General should ask the Juror the questions prescribed by the Act in relation thereto, approved February 28, 1856; that the Jury should be selected according to the provisions of that Act.

The Court over-ruled the objection, and held that that Act did not apply to offences committed before its passage, & c.; to which ruling, prisoner's Counsel excepted. Prisoner's Counsel then asked the Court to try the Juror's competency. The Court ordered the questions prescribed by Statutes, existing previous to the Act of 1856, to be propounded to the Juror, which he answered affirmatively. The Court being requested to test the Juror's competency further, the Juror was tested by " triors," according to the law as it existed previous to said Act of 1856. Two Jurors were thus selected.

A Juror having been sent before the triors, he answered, in response to questions addressed him by prisoner's Counsel, that he had formed and expressed an opinion from what he had heard in relation to the guilt or innocence of the accused; and from what he had heard, he had a bias or prejudice resting on his mind, for or against the accused. Counsel for prisoner insisted that the Juror should be set down for cause, without waiting for the report of the triors. The Court refused the motion, and prisoner excepted.

One John M. Potter was then called as a Juror, and put on the prisoner; having affirmatively answered the statutory questions, he was put on triors, and answered before them, that he had heard a portion of the testimony of Mrs. Patterson before the committing Magistrates, and but little of it; and that he had formed and expressed no opinion from what he did hear; but that the same had made an impression on his mind against the prisoner; he was challenged for cause. The Court refused to allow the challenge for cause, and ordered the triors to examine and report on his competency; he was reported incompetent.

A. S. Curry was then called, and having answered the formal questions negatively, was sent before the triors, and answered, that from what he had heard, he had formed an opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the accused, which was still resting on his mind, though it might be removed by the evidence; he would not say that it would, but thought it could be. Prisoner asked that he be set down for cause at once. The Court refused, and ordered the triors to examine and report on his competency; which was also excepted to. Being reported competent, prisoner's Counsel insisted that notwithstanding the report, the Juror had shown himself incompetent in the presence of the Court, and ought to be adjudged incompetent. The Court over-ruled the objection, and prisoner excepted.

James Lasseter being called, and having answered he had conscientious scruples in regard to capital punishment, the Solicitor General...

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