Bishop v. State, 14271

CourtMississippi Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtWHITFIELD, C. J.
Citation96 Miss. 846,52 So. 21
PartiesGEORGE T. BISHOP v. STATE OF MISSISSIPPI
Decision Date18 April 1910
Docket Number14271

52 So. 21

96 Miss. 846

GEORGE T. BISHOP
v.

STATE OF MISSISSIPPI

No. 14271

Supreme Court of Mississippi

April 18, 1910


FROM the circuit court of Sunflower county, HON. JAMES M. CASHIN, Judge.

Bishop, appellant, was indicted for the murder of one Hutchison, was convicted of murder, and sentenced to suffer death, and appealed to the supreme court.

The deceased was shot while sitting in his house, the bullet being fired through the window in the day time by some one from the outside of the house. Suspicion pointing to the appellant, he was arrested, and while in the custody of a deputy sheriff, Riddle, he is alleged to have confessed to committing the homicide. His conviction rested entirely upon circumstantial evidence and the alleged confession. The opinion of the court further states the facts.

Reversed.

W. D. Watts, for appellant.

The state's witness, Riddle, a deputy sheriff in charge of the prisoner, exercised unwarranted zeal in drawing the alleged confession from the prisoner, taking him to a room upstairs in the depot; asking him where he had been, and when appellant began to give an account of his movements, Riddle interrupted him and said that what had been stated would leave no doubt of his guilt. Riddle said in his testimony, "I told accused I was sorry for him. " Now, viewing this testimony as a whole, one could arrive at no other conclusion than that the witness, Riddle, was hostile to appellant. Again, Riddle testified that he made no threats or promises, and that the confession was free and voluntary, but, he says, some one present might have made a promise or threat.

If it appears that the prisoner has not been left wholly free, and did not consider himself to be so, in what he was called upon to say, or did not feel himself at liberty wholly to decline any explanation or declaration whatever, the examination is not held to have been voluntary. 1 Greenleaf Ev. § 225.

In the face of the testimony in this case, does it not seem more like the "sweat-box process" than a free, deliberate, and voluntary confession?

Chief Justice Fuller, in delivering the opinion of the court in the case of Wilson v. The United States, 162 U.S. 621, said: "In short, the true test of admissibility is that the confession is made freely, voluntarily, and without compulsion or inducement whatever."

The tests provided by the law to be applied to confessions are not entirely to insure the truth, as some have supposed, but there is a more humanitarian consideration, which the law has seen fit to throw around the mentally weak, that they may be on an equal footing with their more intelligent brethren, and this has been embodied in the fifth amendment to the United States Constitution, wherein it is said: "No person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself."

Constitutional provisions for the security of person and property should be liberally construed. Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616.

If the facts as to Which he is interrogated, form but one link in the chain of evidence, which is to convict him, he is protected from its consequences. And whether it may tend to incriminate or expose the witness, is a point upon which the court is bound to instruct him; and which the court will determine under all circumstances of the case. 1 Greenleaf Ev. § 451.

The supreme court of Mississippi, speaking through Arnold, J., in the case of Ellis v. State, 65 Miss. 48, said: "If there is a reasonable doubt against it (confession) being free and voluntary, it should be excluded from the jury."

It is said that by the term "voluntary" is meant a proceeding from the spontaneous operation of the party's own mind, free from the influence of any extraneous disturbing cause. People v. McMahon, 15 N.Y. 384.

A party must be allowed to make his own calculations as to the advantages to be derived from confessing. State v. Smith, 72 Miss. 420.

In determining whether a confession was voluntary, the age, situation, experience, intelligence, character, and disposition of the accused, and the circumstances under which the confession was made are relevant. 12 Cyc. 480.

The court below refused to permit counsel for the defense to offer in evidence, the testimony of witnesses who had known. appellant intimately for many years to show the mental condition of appellant. This was error. It seems to be well settled law that witnesses, though not experts, where they had had the opportunity to judge from close observation, may testify as to the sanity or insanity of the accused. 1 Wharton Ev. 451; Wood v. State, 58 Miss. 741.

If the confessions are introduced in evidence by the state, the accused who, under the statute, has the right to testify in his own behalf, should be allowed to explain his mental condition when he confessed. Simmons v. State, 61 Miss. 243. Then why should not evidence to show mental incapacity be admissible?

In the case of Bram v. United States, 168 U.S. 532, the words used by the police officer to the accused were conceded by the court to be neither a threat nor a promise, and yet the court reached the conclusion that there was sufficient in them to make any conviction or statement by the accused inadmissible. The testimony of the detective, because of the admission of which the supreme court of the United States, ordered a new trial, was as follows: "When Mr. Bram came into my office, I said to him: 'Bram, we are trying to unravel this horrible mystery; your position is rather an awkward one; I have had Brown in this office, and he made a statement that he saw you do the murder.' To which the accused answered, 'He could not have seen me, where was he?' I said: 'He states that he was at the wheel.' 'Well', he said, 'he could not have seen me from there.' I said: 'Now look here, Bram, I am satisfied that you killed the captain from all that I have heard from Brown,' but, I said: 'some of us here think that you could not have done all that crime alone. If you had an accomplice, you should say so, and not have the blame of this horrible crime on your own shoulders.' He said: 'Well, I think, and many others on board the ship think, that...

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15 practice notes
  • Harvey v. State, No. 44669
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • 19 Febrero 1968
    ...169 Miss. 295, 153 So. 381 (1934); Cunningham v. State, 56 Miss. 269 (1879); Grissom v. State, 62 Miss. 167 (1884); Bishop v. State, 96 Miss. 846, 52 So. 21 (1910); Hoye v. State, 169 Miss. 111, 152 So. 644 (1934); McGann v. State, 175 Miss. 320, 167 So. 53 (1936); Brummett v. State, 181 So......
  • Keeton v. State, 31931
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • 6 Abril 1936
    ...257 N.Y. 54, 177 N.E. 306; State v. Murphey, 154 La. 190, 97 So. 397; People v. Radeloff, 252 N.Y.S. 290, 140 Misc. --; Bishop v. State, 96 Miss. 846, 52 So. 21; Coon v. State, 13 S. & M. 246; McCann v. State, 13 S. & M. 471; 2 A. L. R. 1017; 26 A. L. R. 541. The confession was insufficient......
  • Parker v. State, NO. 2016-CT-01502-SCT
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • 23 Mayo 2019
    ...was rendered fundamentally unfair." (citing Fisher v. City of Eupora , 587 So.2d 878, 883 (Miss. 1991) )). See also Bishop v. State , 96 Miss. 846, 52 So. 21, 22-23 (1910).¶52. To be clear, this preliminary showing is far from dispositive of the question of whether Parker has presented a vi......
  • McGarrh v. State, No. 42396
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • 14 Enero 1963
    ...can be had, to remove it to the satisfaction of the jury beyond reasonable doubt. Cunningham v. State, 56 Miss. 269; Bishop v. State, 96 Miss. 846, 52 So. 21; Waycaster v. State, 185 Miss. 25, 187 So. 205; Gambrell v. State, 238 Miss. 892, 120 So.2d In addition, the rule in this State, with......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
15 cases
  • Harvey v. State, No. 44669
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • 19 Febrero 1968
    ...169 Miss. 295, 153 So. 381 (1934); Cunningham v. State, 56 Miss. 269 (1879); Grissom v. State, 62 Miss. 167 (1884); Bishop v. State, 96 Miss. 846, 52 So. 21 (1910); Hoye v. State, 169 Miss. 111, 152 So. 644 (1934); McGann v. State, 175 Miss. 320, 167 So. 53 (1936); Brummett v. State, 181 So......
  • Keeton v. State, 31931
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • 6 Abril 1936
    ...257 N.Y. 54, 177 N.E. 306; State v. Murphey, 154 La. 190, 97 So. 397; People v. Radeloff, 252 N.Y.S. 290, 140 Misc. --; Bishop v. State, 96 Miss. 846, 52 So. 21; Coon v. State, 13 S. & M. 246; McCann v. State, 13 S. & M. 471; 2 A. L. R. 1017; 26 A. L. R. 541. The confession was insufficient......
  • Parker v. State, NO. 2016-CT-01502-SCT
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • 23 Mayo 2019
    ...was rendered fundamentally unfair." (citing Fisher v. City of Eupora , 587 So.2d 878, 883 (Miss. 1991) )). See also Bishop v. State , 96 Miss. 846, 52 So. 21, 22-23 (1910).¶52. To be clear, this preliminary showing is far from dispositive of the question of whether Parker has presented a vi......
  • McGarrh v. State, No. 42396
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • 14 Enero 1963
    ...can be had, to remove it to the satisfaction of the jury beyond reasonable doubt. Cunningham v. State, 56 Miss. 269; Bishop v. State, 96 Miss. 846, 52 So. 21; Waycaster v. State, 185 Miss. 25, 187 So. 205; Gambrell v. State, 238 Miss. 892, 120 So.2d In addition, the rule in this State, with......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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