Clair v. People

Citation10 P. 799, 9 Colo. 122
Case DateApril 09, 1886
CourtSupreme Court of Colorado

10 P. 799

9 Colo. 122

CLAIR and others
v.

PEOPLE.

Supreme Court of Colorado

April 9, 1886


Error to district court, Clear Creek county.

Tilford & Gilmore and R. S. Morrison, for plaintiffs in error.

T. H. Thomas, Atty. Gen., for the People.

HELM, J.

Plaintiffs in error, being lessees of a mine, were tried and convicted of removing and concealing ore [9 Colo. 123] therefrom with intent to defraud the owner thereof. The prosecution took place under section 2513 of the General Statutes. The evidence upon which the conviction rests is not contained in the abstract before us, but counsel agree that it was 'wholly circumstantial.' Two assignments of error are pressed for consideration.

One of the instructions given on behalf of the state contained, inter alia, the following:

'* * * That the rule requiring the jury to be satisfied of the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in order to warrant a conviction, does not require that the jury should be satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt of each link in the chain of circumstances relied upon to establish the defendant's guilt. * * *'

The proposition which the court doubtless intended to announce is that it was not necessary for the state to have proven beyond a reasonable doubt every circumstance offered in evidence, and tending to [10 P. 800] establish the ultimate facts or circumstances on which a conviction depended. This would have been, in our judgment, good law. But while such was the purpose which the court sought to accomplish, it is exceedingly doubtful if the language employed did not mislead the jury. The metaphor used is inaccurate, and liable to misconstruction. It is incorrect to speak of a body of circumstantial evidence as a chain, and allude to the different circumstances as the links constituting such chain; for a chain cannot be stronger than its weakest link, and if one link fails, the chain is broken. This figure of speech may perhaps be correctly applied to the ultimate and essential facts necessary to conviction in criminal cases, since if one be omitted, or be not proven beyond a reasonable doubt, an acquittal must follow. It is not true, however, that each and every of the minor circumstances introduced to sustain these ultimate facts must be proven with the same degree of certainty. Some of these circumstances may fail of proof altogether, and be discarded from consideration [9 Colo. 124] by the jury, yet the ultimate fact to establish which they were presented may be shown beyond a reasonable doubt. The evidence in cases similar to the one before us has been more aptly likened to a cable. One, two, or a half dozen strands may part, yet the cable still remain so strong that there is scarcely a possibility of its breaking. But the word 'circumstance' and the word 'fact' are frequently used interchangeably. In 1 Bouv. Dict. 569, they are given as synonyms, and instances sometimes arise when it would puzzle a professional philologist to tell which of the two words would more accurately characterize a given 'action' or 'thing done.' In cases where the conviction depends upon circumstantial evidence, it often happens that one or more of the ultimate or essential matters may very appropriately be called 'circumstances,' and such matters, whether spoken of as circumstances or...

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49 practice notes
  • Rhinehart v. Denver & R.G.R. Co., 8471.
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • April 3, 1916
    ...expressed in the title, are germane.' Other cases in which the reasoning sustains our conclusion in this respect are: Clare v. People, 9 Colo. 122, 10 P. 799; Dallas v. Redman, 10 Colo. 297, 15 P. 397; Edwards v. D. & R. G. R. R. Co., 13 Colo. 59, 21 P. 1011; In re Breene, 14 Colo. 401, 24 ......
  • In re Fourth Judicial District
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • April 24, 1893
    ...reasonably and liberally construed. Golden v. Canal Company v. Bright, 8 Colo. 144; People ex rel. Goddard, 8 Colo. 432; Clare v. People, 9 Colo. 122; Dallas v. Redman, 10 Colo. 297; State ex rel. Ranson, 73 Mo. 78; State v. Barrett, 27 Kan. 213; State v. Miller, 45 Mo. 495. In construing t......
  • Pioneer Irr. Dist. v. Bradbury
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • March 8, 1902
    ...(Winters v. City of Duluth, [8 Idaho 314] 82 Minn. 127, 84 N.W. 788; State v. Cassidy, 22 Minn. 324, 21 Am. Rep. 765; Clare v. People, 9 Colo. 122, 10 P. 799; State v. Board of Commrs., 21 Nev. 235, 29 P. 974.) If the provisions of a statute all relate, directly or indirectly, to the same s......
  • State v. Blydenburg
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • July 3, 1907
    ...v. Webster, 5 Cush. (Mass.) 295, 52 Am. Dec. 711;Sumner v. State, 36 Am. Dec. 561, 5 Blackf. (Ind.) 579; Clare v. People, 10 Pac. 799, 9 Colo. 122;Graves v. People, 18 Colo. 170, 32 Pac. 63;People v. Ah Chung, 54 Cal. 398; Burrell's Cir. Ev. 733; Hodge v. Territory, 69 Pac. 1077, 12 Okl. 10......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
49 cases
  • Rhinehart v. Denver & R.G.R. Co., 8471.
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • April 3, 1916
    ...expressed in the title, are germane.' Other cases in which the reasoning sustains our conclusion in this respect are: Clare v. People, 9 Colo. 122, 10 P. 799; Dallas v. Redman, 10 Colo. 297, 15 P. 397; Edwards v. D. & R. G. R. R. Co., 13 Colo. 59, 21 P. 1011; In re Breene, 14 Colo. 401, 24 ......
  • In re Fourth Judicial District
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • April 24, 1893
    ...reasonably and liberally construed. Golden v. Canal Company v. Bright, 8 Colo. 144; People ex rel. Goddard, 8 Colo. 432; Clare v. People, 9 Colo. 122; Dallas v. Redman, 10 Colo. 297; State ex rel. Ranson, 73 Mo. 78; State v. Barrett, 27 Kan. 213; State v. Miller, 45 Mo. 495. In construing t......
  • Pioneer Irr. Dist. v. Bradbury
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • March 8, 1902
    ...(Winters v. City of Duluth, [8 Idaho 314] 82 Minn. 127, 84 N.W. 788; State v. Cassidy, 22 Minn. 324, 21 Am. Rep. 765; Clare v. People, 9 Colo. 122, 10 P. 799; State v. Board of Commrs., 21 Nev. 235, 29 P. 974.) If the provisions of a statute all relate, directly or indirectly, to the same s......
  • State v. Blydenburg
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • July 3, 1907
    ...v. Webster, 5 Cush. (Mass.) 295, 52 Am. Dec. 711;Sumner v. State, 36 Am. Dec. 561, 5 Blackf. (Ind.) 579; Clare v. People, 10 Pac. 799, 9 Colo. 122;Graves v. People, 18 Colo. 170, 32 Pac. 63;People v. Ah Chung, 54 Cal. 398; Burrell's Cir. Ev. 733; Hodge v. Territory, 69 Pac. 1077, 12 Okl. 10......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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