Bradford v. State

Citation17 A.L.R.3d 134,234 Md. 505,200 A.2d 150
Decision Date04 May 1964
Docket NumberNo. 289,289
Parties, 17 A.L.R.3d 134 Carl David BRADFORD, Sr. v. STATE of Maryland.
CourtCourt of Appeals of Maryland

William O. Goldstein, Baltimore (Roland Walker, Baltimore, on the brief), for appellant.

Fred Oken, Asst. Atty. Gen., Baltimore (Thomas B. Finan, Atty. Gen., William J. O'Donnell and Andrew J. Graham, State's Atty. and Asst. State's Atty., respectively, for Baltimore City, Baltimore, on the brief), for appellee.



HORNEY, Judge.

In this criminal case, we are confronted for the first time with questions as to which party--the prosecution or the defendant--has the burden of proof on the issue of insanity and as to which degree of proof--beyond a reasonable doubt or preponderance of the evidence--should be applied.

These appeals are from the judgments entered by the lower court after it had found the defendant (Carl David Bradford, Sr.) guilty in a nonjury trial of several cases involving statutory rape and assaults of female children ranging in age from eleven to fourteen years.

The defendant, who owned and operated a grocery store in Baltimore City, resided with his sister in living quarters above the store. He employed several young girls of the neighborhood on a part time basis to work in the store. One of them, with the permission of her parents, who were moving to the country, came to live with the defendant and his sister so as to be able to continue attending a nearby public school and working in the store. She had her own room in the apartment above the store, and, on two occasions, while she was a member of the household, the defendant entered her room in the nighttime and had sexual intercourse with her. On other occasions, when the defendant was alone in the store with other of his young female employees, he used obscene language, made indecent solicitations, and molested them by placing his hands on them.

Following his arraignment, at which he filed pleas of not guilty by reason of insanity, the defendant was confined for approximately two months in the Clifton T. Perkins State Hospital for a determination of his mental status.

At the trial of the defendant, Dr. Victor Gregory, a psychiatrist on the staff at Perkins, testified that after examining the defendant on numerous occasions, he was of the opinion that he had a chronic brain syndrome with a paranoid type of schizophrenic reaction. On the basis of this conclusion, he thought that the defendant 'was unable to distinguish right from wrong and adhere to the right' on the dates the offenses were committed. His opinion was shared by Dr. Murray, another member of the hospital staff. On cross-examination, Dr. Gregory produced the hospital report signed by Dr. Cushard, the superintendent, and Dr. Hamilton, the clinical director. The report was based on a finding made at a staff conference at which the defendant was present. In essence, the report stated that, although the defendant suffered from a mild chronic brain syndrome, he was a responsible agent at the time of the commission of the offenses and that he had sufficient mental capacity to stand trial. But the report did not express the unanimous opinion of the three psychiatrists (Drs. Gregory, Hamilton and Murray) who were at the conference. Although Dr. Cushard signed the report, he did not attend the conference. Nor did he ever examine the defendant. Dr. Hamilton, who had not observed the defendant prior to the conference, concluded that he was sane, whereas Drs. Gregory and Murray were of the opinion that he was mentally irresponsible.

Dr. Oscar G. Prado, a psychiatrist on the staff of the State Department of Mental Hygiene, was ordered by the lower court to observe the defendant and to express an opinion in relation to the insanity plea. His report, based on a single examination, stated that the defendant was a responsible agent at the time of the commission of the offenses and that he was competent to stand trial. At the trial, Dr. Prado testified that at the time of the offenses the defendant 'was not deprived, by reason of insanity, of the capacity to distinguish between right and wrong and the nature and consequences of his actions.' He was not present at the staff conference held at Perkins.

No evidence was offered by the defendant denying that he had committed the offenses with which he was charged. Nor was there any evidence that he did not have sufficient capacity to advise as to the conduct of his defense. The sole defense was rested on the ground that he was insane at the time the various offenses were committed.

In reviewing the evidence before announcing his verdicts, the trial judge--after observing that 'the presumption of sanity carries until the defendant raises a serious question as to [his] sanity' and that the lack of unanimity on the part of the hospital staff made it 'impossible [for the judge] to give an opinion which would reflect on the condition of the patient'--stated that the opinion expressed by Dr. Gregory was not specific 'under the Maryland test for legal insanity,' and then found that 'the defendant was sane at the time of the commission of the alleged offenses mentioned in the indictments, and that he is sane today.'

On appeal, the defendant contends: (i) that there was sufficient evidence to overcome the presumption of sanity; (ii) that once this presumption has been rebutted, the State has the burden of proving sanity beyond a reasonable doubt; and (iii) that the State did not successfully meet the burden cast upon it.


In this nonjury case, it was the function of the lower court to evaluate the conflicting evidence on the issue of sanity and to determine whether or not the presumption of sanity had been rebutted. While it is the function of this Court to review both the law and the evidence, we cannot set aside the findings of the lower court on the evidence unless clearly erroneous. Dunn v. State, 226 Md. 463, 174 A.2d 185 (1961); Saldiveri v. State, 217 Md. 412, 143 A.2d 70 (1958); Maryland Rule 886 a.

All of the courts in this country are in agreement that there is a presumption that all persons are sane and responsible for their acts at the time of the commission of a criminal offense. See Weihofen, Mental Disorder As A Criminal Defense, p. 214. See also Saldiveri v. State, supra, 217 Md. at p. 423, 143 A.2d 70. This presumption is a creature of necessity and serves principally to save time in the trial of the issues presented by the pleadings. Otherwise a great deal of time and effort would be wasted if in every case the prosecution had to introduce full evidence of sanity as it does of all other material facts. See the case-note, Burden of Proof of Insanity in Criminal Cases, in 15 Md.L.Rev. 157, 160.

This Court has said that 'a man is presumed sane until sufficient proof of his insanity is introduced to raise a question in the minds of reasonable men as to whether he is or is not sane.' Lipscomb v. State, 223 Md. 599, 604, 165 A.2d 918, 921 (1960). The 'sufficient proof' necessary to overcome the presumption must be evidence of insanity under the 'M'Naghten-Spencer' test. Saldiveri v. State, supra, 217 Md. at p. 422, 143 A.2d 70. In other words, regardless of who introduces it, it must be shown by sufficient competent evidence that the defendant, at the time of the commission of the offense, did not have capacity and reason sufficient to enable him to distinguish between right and wrong and understand the nature and consequences of his acts as applied to himself. Spencer v. State, 69 Md. 28, 13 A. 809 (1888). Evidence of some undefined mental disorder or instability is insufficient proof to overcome the presumption of sanity. See Thomas v. State, 206 Md. 575, 112 A.2d 913 (1955); Bryant v. State, 207 Md. 565, 115 A.2d 502 (1955); and Cole v. State, 212 Md. 55, 128 A.2d 437 (1957), wherein this Court rejected the liberal test for ascertaining criminal responsibility applied in Durham v. United States, 94 U.S.App.D.C. 228, 214 F.2d 862, 874, 45 A.L.R.2d 1430 (1954), to the effect that an accused is not responsible if his act was the product of a mental disease or mental defect.

In the case at bar, the trial court had before it conflicting evidence on the issue of the defendant's sanity. On the one hand, the hospital report based primarily on the opinion of Dr. Hamilton, and the independent conclusion of Dr. Prado, indicated that the defendant was sane. On the other hand, Dr. Gregory, with whom Dr. Murray was in agreement, was of the opinion that the defendant was insane. It is obvious that the decision the lower court had to make was not an easy one, but we think it was in error when it disregarded the conclusion of Dr. Gregory as to the mental status of the defendant and ruled that the presumption of sanity had not been rebutted. Rule 886 a. Apparently the testimony of Dr. Gregory was not considered because the court believed that he had not been specific as to whether or not he had applied the Maryland test in arriving at the opinion he expressed. As we read it, the record shows that he had been quite specific. While it is true that Dr. Gregory, in testifying in chief as to the defendant's lack of criminal responsibility, did not use the exact phraseology (nor did Dr. Prado) of the M'Naghten-Spencer test, the court evidently overlooked the fact that the witness, on recross-examination, unequivocally stated that the defendant 'was insane under the M'Naghten rule.' Having applied the approved test, Dr. Gregory was a competent witness and the lower court should have considered his testimony. We think that the testimony of Dr. Gregory (with which Dr. Murray agreed) was sufficient proof of insanity to raise a doubt in the minds of reasonable men as to the defendant's sanity and thereby overcome the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
43 cases
  • Commonwealth v. Vogel
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
    • July 13, 1970
    ...... proving appellant's sanity beyond a reasonable doubt. One. of the most fundamental principles in our criminal law is. that it is for the State to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt,. all the elements of a crime. Equally fundamental is the. principle that murder is not, in Mr. Justice. ... to prove the intent,. [268 A.2d 91] . to show that the perpetrator was capable of forming the. requisite intent.' Bradford v. State, 234 Md. 505, 512, 200 A.2d 150, 154 (1964). I therefore cannot agree. with the assertion that '(a)n individual may. Intentionally kill ......
  • Commonwealth v. Simms
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Pennsylvania
    • June 21, 1974
    ...... situation in which the defendant in a murder prosecution was. attempting to prove by way of a defense that his unbalanced. mental state caused him to respond violently to certain. events and he was, therefore, guilty not of murder but only. of voluntary manslaughter. The Court noted ... perpetrator [228 Pa.Super. 115] was capable of. [324 A.2d 373] . forming the requisite intent.' Bradford v. State, 234 Md. 505, 512, 200 A.2d 150, 154 (1964). I. therefore cannot agree with the assertion that '(a)n. individual may Intentionally kill ......
  • Trimble v. State, s. 15
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • September 1, 1982
    ...a defendant must present evidence that could raise a doubt in a reasonable juror as to the sanity of the defendant. Bradford v. State, 234 Md. 505, 200 A.2d 150 (1964). This is a relatively light burden because the State shoulders the ultimate persuasion burden beyond a reasonable doubt. C.......
  • Hof v. State, 117
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Maryland
    • September 1, 1993
    ...330 Md. 223, 234-35, 623 A.2d 630, 635-36 (1993); State v. Faulkner, 301 Md. 482, 502, 483 A.2d 759, 770 (1984); Bradford v. State, 234 Md. 505, 509, 200 A.2d 150, 152 (1964); Tripp v. State, 36 Md.App. 459, 464, 374 A.2d 384, 388, cert. denied, 281 Md. 745 (1977). But that is not the only ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT