27 Iowa 494 (Iowa. 1869), Ryan v. Harrow

Citation:27 Iowa 494
Opinion Judge:BECK, J.
Party Name:RYAN et al. v. HARROW et al
Attorney:E. M. Thorp, Thos. F. Withrow and J. H. Penney for the appellants. H. H. Trimble and Perry & Townsend for the appellees.
Court:Supreme Court of Iowa

Page 494

27 Iowa 494 (Iowa. 1869)

RYAN et al.


HARROW et al

Supreme Court of Iowa, Des Moines

December, 1869

Appeal from Lucas District Court.


ACTION of replevin, verdict and judgment for defendants. Plaintiff moved the court to set aside the verdict, and for a new trial, on the ground of the misconduct of the jury, alleging that certain of the jury drank intoxicating liquors, and were intoxicated while deliberating upon their verdict. And on the further ground of newly discovered evidence, being the declarations and admissions of one of the defendants as to certain material facts, made after the cause was submitted to the jury. Affidavits in support and denial of the facts alleged as the grounds of a new trial were filed by the parties, and the motion was submitted thereon to the court, and was overruled. Plaintiffs appeal.


E. M. Thorp, Thos. F. Withrow and J. H. Penney for the appellants.

H. H. Trimble and Perry & Townsend for the appellees.



Page 495

The fact that, during the progress of the trial, and after the cause was submitted to the jury, and before they had agreed upon their verdict, two or more of the jury drank intoxicating liquors, seems to be conclusively established by the evidence embodied in the record. The liquors appear to have been procured by the jury without the knowledge or aid of any of the parties, none of whom are blamable for this misconduct of the jury in this respect. Whether any of the jury were intoxicated is a question of doubt: several of the jurors, and the bailiff attending them, giving it as their opinion that one or two were under the influence of intoxicating liquors, while the persons thus charged, and several others, deny the fact. The view we take of the case will relieve us of the duty of determining whether the charge of intoxication is sustained by the record. And we are glad to escape so unpleasant an investigation, which might result in convincing us that the administration of the law in our State has been disgraced by the drunkenness of those appointed to decide, in a court of justice, upon the rights of their fellow-citizens. We had hoped that such things were of the past, and would only be remembered as rare instances existing in the traditions of frontier days.

This court has ruled that a juror, separating from his fellows while considering of their verdict, and drinking ale or lager beer, without the charge that he become intoxicated, is misconduct requiring the verdict to be set aside. State v. Baldy, 17 Iowa 39. The ruling of the court is based upon the fact of the drinking of the liquor by the juror, and no weight seems to be given to the fact of separation without permission. The authorities cited in support of this decision are Brant v. Fowler, 7 Cow. 562, and The People v. Douglass, 4 Cow. 26, which are directly in point, and fully sustain the doctrine

Page 496

adopted by this court. It is urged that these cases, were at the time of the decision of this court in The State v. Baldy, overruled by Wilson v. Abrahams, 1 Hill 207, and the following cases, holding a contrary doctrine, are cited: The State v. Sparrow, 3 Mur. 487; Pope & Jacobs v. State, 36 Miss. 121; Gilmanton v. Ham, 38 N.H. 108; Commonwealth v. Roby, 12 Pick. 496. Wilson v. Abrahams, it may be admitted, does overrule Brant v. Fowler and The People v. Douglass. The other cases cited by defendants' counsel hardly go to the length and in the direction claimed for them. In The State v. Sparrow, refreshments, consisting of victuals and coffee, were handed into the jury room, and a vessel was found there containing some wine. There was no charge of intoxication as to any of the jury. In Pope & Jacobs v. State, at the suggestion of a fellow-juror, who was a physician, one of the jurors who was sick drank brandy, handed into the room for that purpose. No other juror drank of it. The court say: "If indeed the evidence closed with the proof of the naked fact...

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