Commonwealth v. Clifford

CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
Writing for the CourtHOLMES
Citation13 N.E. 345,145 Mass. 97
Decision Date19 October 1887
PartiesCOMMONWEALTH v. CLIFFORD.

145 Mass. 97
13 N.E. 345

COMMONWEALTH
v.
CLIFFORD.

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Worcester.

October 19, 1887.


Indictment charging the defendant with adultery with one Angie P. Stone. Trial in the superior court for Worcester county, before KNOWLTON, J., where the jury returned a verdict of guilty, and the defendant alleged exceptions. Sufficient facts are stated in the opinion.

[13 N.E. 346]


[145 Mass. 98]John Hopkins and Chas.
R. Johnson, for defendant.

The original charge is open to the criticism that it is a charge with reference to a matter of fact, and so is prohibited by Pub.St. c. 153, § 5. The fact to be proved was sexual intercourse. Without reference to the soundness of the opinion expressed by the court, it is submitted that the sufficiency of the circumstantial evidence was for the jury, and not for the court, and the court had no right to express the opinion that the occupancy together of the room by the parties was enough to warrant the finding of guilty. The statement “that the evidence alluded to was as strong as is usually found in such cases” is open to question as a matter of fact. Courts and practitioners might differ as to the proposition. It was a statement of the judgment of the court, and its conclusion upon a matter of fact, and was an interference with the province of the jury. Com. v. Barry, 9 Allen, 277. The modified charge is open to all the criticisms that may be made against the original. The jury would not be warranted in finding the fact of adultery from the circumstance that “a married man is found with a woman not his wife, in a room with a bed in it, and stays through the night with her there,” unless that circumstance satisfied them beyond a reasonable doubt of the criminal act. The court cannot say, as a matter of law, that the circumstance put in evidence would so satisfy them, or that it ought to satisfy them. The court should in all cases be scrupulously careful not to invade the province of the jury by undertaking to decide on the weight or effect of evidence. Gavett v. Railroad Co., 16 Gray, 505. The fact of adultery was to be determined as an inference of fact from the evidence adduced before the jury. It was their duty to pass upon this evidence. The court had no right to express an opinion upon its weight, or to indicate what the judgment of the court was as to the weight it ought to have. Banfield v. Whipple, 14 Allen, 13.

The defendant alleged exceptions to a certain portion of the charge...

To continue reading

Request your trial
17 practice notes
  • Robinson v. State, 609
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • January 10, 1910
    ...v. State, 106 Ala. 23; Esterling v. State, 30 Ala. 46; People v. Camillo, 54 Cal. 63; Allison v. State, 42 Ind. 354; Comm. v. Clifford, 145 Mass. 97.) The presumption arising from the possession of recently stolen property is used to identify the thief, not to prove the theft. (2 Bish. Cr. ......
  • Commonwealth v. Millen
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • April 18, 1935
    ...of sentence in criminal cases by frivolous exceptions as well as the similar delay of judgment in civil cases. Commonwealth v. Clif ford, 145 Mass. 97, 13 N. E. 345; [195 N.E. 545]Commonwealth v. Meserve, 156 Mass. 61, 30 N. E. 166. When, by St. 1895, c. 469 (G. L. [Ter. Ed.] c. 279, § 4), ......
  • Commonwealth v. Millen
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • April 18, 1935
    ...of sentence in criminal cases by frivolous exceptions as well as the similar delay of judgment in civil cases. Commonwealth v. Clif ford, 145 Mass. 97, 13 N.E. 345; [195 N.E. 545] Commonwealth v. Meserve, 156 Mass. 61, 30 N.E. 166. When, by St. 1895, c. 469 (G. L. [Ter. Ed.] c. 279, § 4), t......
  • State v. Richardson, 6254
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • November 2, 1935
    ...97 Ga. 193, 23 S.E. 832; Eldridge v. State, 97 Ga. 192, 23 S.E. 832; State v. Ean, 90 Iowa 534, 58 N.W. 898; Commonwealth v. Clifford, 145 Mass. 97, 13 N.E. 345; United States v. Griego, 11 N.M. 392, 72 P. 20; State v. Snover, [56 Idaho 157] 65 N.J.L. 289, 47 A. 583). Upon an examination of......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
17 cases
  • Robinson v. State, 609
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • January 10, 1910
    ...v. State, 106 Ala. 23; Esterling v. State, 30 Ala. 46; People v. Camillo, 54 Cal. 63; Allison v. State, 42 Ind. 354; Comm. v. Clifford, 145 Mass. 97.) The presumption arising from the possession of recently stolen property is used to identify the thief, not to prove the theft. (2 Bish. Cr. ......
  • Commonwealth v. Millen
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • April 18, 1935
    ...of sentence in criminal cases by frivolous exceptions as well as the similar delay of judgment in civil cases. Commonwealth v. Clif ford, 145 Mass. 97, 13 N. E. 345; [195 N.E. 545]Commonwealth v. Meserve, 156 Mass. 61, 30 N. E. 166. When, by St. 1895, c. 469 (G. L. [Ter. Ed.] c. 279, § 4), ......
  • Commonwealth v. Millen
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • April 18, 1935
    ...of sentence in criminal cases by frivolous exceptions as well as the similar delay of judgment in civil cases. Commonwealth v. Clif ford, 145 Mass. 97, 13 N.E. 345; [195 N.E. 545] Commonwealth v. Meserve, 156 Mass. 61, 30 N.E. 166. When, by St. 1895, c. 469 (G. L. [Ter. Ed.] c. 279, § 4), t......
  • State v. Richardson, 6254
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Idaho
    • November 2, 1935
    ...97 Ga. 193, 23 S.E. 832; Eldridge v. State, 97 Ga. 192, 23 S.E. 832; State v. Ean, 90 Iowa 534, 58 N.W. 898; Commonwealth v. Clifford, 145 Mass. 97, 13 N.E. 345; United States v. Griego, 11 N.M. 392, 72 P. 20; State v. Snover, [56 Idaho 157] 65 N.J.L. 289, 47 A. 583). Upon an examination of......
  • 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