Bridges v. U.S.

Decision Date18 October 1909
Citation104 P. 370,3 Okla.Crim. 64,1909 OK CR 127
CourtUnited States State Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma. Court of Criminal Appeals of Oklahoma

Syllabus by the Court.

It is error for the trial court to single out the defendant personally and charge upon the credibility of his testimony.

Appeal from District Court, Creek County; John Caruthers, Judge.

H. E Bridges was convicted of the larceny of a steer, and he appeals. Reversed and remanded.

McDougal Wood & Latimore, for appellant.

Charles West, Atty. Gen., and C. L. Moore, Asst. Atty. Gen., for the State.


First. Upon the trial of this case the court instructed the jury as follows: "Under the law the defendant has the right to testify on his own behalf; but the credibility and the weight to be given to his testimony are matters exclusively for the jury. In weighing his testimony, you have a right to take into consideration his manner of testifying, the reasonableness or unreasonableness of his account of the transaction, and his interest in the result of the verdict as affecting his credibility. You are not required to receive blindly the testimony of the accused as true; but you are to consider whether it is true, and made in good faith, or only for the purpose of avoiding conviction." In the case of Jesse Reed v. United States, 103 P. 371, Judge Owen speaking for the court said: "In our opinion it is reversible error for the trial court to single out the defendant personally, and instruct the jury upon the credibility of his evidence. This court so held in the case of Fletcher v. State, reported in 101 P. 599, and in the case of Green v. United States, 101 P. 112, and again in the case of Hendrix v. United States, 101 P. 125. In the latter case the instruction was condemned, but was held to be harmless error in that case for reasons given in the opinion. In the case of Fletcher v. State, opinion by the Presiding Judge of this court, the court, in passing on this question, says: 'We think that it is error for the court to single out any special witness, personally, and burden his testimony with any suggestions which might indicate to the jury that in the opinion of the court such witness was liable to testify falsely. Instructions as to the credibility of witnesses should be general, and apply equally to all of the witnesses for the state and the defendant alike. Because a witness may be the defendant is no reason why he should be visited with...

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