Commonwealth v. White

CourtUnited States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
Writing for the CourtKNOWLTON
Citation208 Mass. 202,94 N.E. 391
Decision Date02 March 1911
PartiesCOMMONWEALTH v. WHITE et al.

208 Mass. 202
94 N.E. 391

COMMONWEALTH
v.
WHITE et al.

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, Essex.

March 2, 1911.


Exceptions from Superior Court, Essex County; Wm. Schofield, Judge.

William P. White and others were indicted for conspiring to bribe members of the board of aldermen to vote for the removal of a city official. Judgment of conviction, and the defendant named excepts. Exceptions overruled.


Henry C. Attwill, Dist.
Atty., for the Commonwealth.

Herbert [208 Mass. 208]Parker, H. H. Fuller, and M. L. Sullivan, for defendant.


[208 Mass. 203]KNOWLTON, C. J.

This is an indictment against the defendant White, who was the mayor of the city of Lawrence, and five other persons, charging them with having conspired together, and with other persons whose names are to the jurors unknown, to bribe three members of the board of aldermen

[94 N.E. 392]

of that city to vote in favor of the removal of one Hamilton from the office of chief engineer of the first department, which office he held by the appointment of this defendant as mayor. The exceptions were taken by White alone, and he is the only defendant before us. The indictment is in two counts, charging the substantive offense in different forms, which it is not important[208 Mass. 204]to consider. The defendant desired to remove Hamilton from the office, and wished to have a majority of the board of aldermen, which consisted of six members, vote to approve the removal of him.

The exceptions argued by the defendant relate to three subjects: First, the refusal to rule that there was no evidence to warrant a verdict of guilty; second, the alleged errors in ruling upon the admission of evidence; third, the impaneling of the jury, and the alleged error in allowing certain peremptory challenges by the commonwealth.

There was much evidence tending to show attempts to bribe aldermen by some of the defendants. This came through the testimony of numerous witnesses as to what was said and done, constituting such attempts. The defendant's counsel has argued the case as if none of this testimony was to be considered by the jury, as against the defendant, for any purpose. When the district attorney offered different conversations between different defendants and individual members of the board of aldermen, the judge, after objection by the defendant White, admitted the conversations and statements only as against the particular defendant who was the party to them, telling the jury that he would instruct them later as to how far and for what purposes the statements could be considered. Plainly the conversations and statements, as such, were competent only as against the persons who made them. This was the substance and effect of the ruling. But if a material transaction, like the acceptance of a bribe or an attempt to influence one by the gift of a bribe, was accomplished wholly or in part by words, proof of the transaction by stating the words would be competent against any person in whose trial the transaction might be important as a circumstance proper to be proved. The substance of the offense charged against the defendant can be proved only as such offenses are commonly proved, by circumstantial evidence. There was testimony of a statement by the defendant in December, 1909, that, if he was re-elected and could get four aldermen to stay, he would remove Hamilton as chief of the fire department, that he was an ingrate; that he repeated this statement[208 Mass. 205]several times; that he asked the different aldermen how they stood in regard to the removal of Hamilton. It was well established that the purpose and desire of the defendant in reference to the removal of Hamilton were like those of the persons who were shown to have offered bribes. When the mayor asked the...

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8 practice notes
  • Commonwealth v. Ventura
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • April 1, 1936
    ...that such person stands indifferent. It was said by the court speaking through Chief Justice Knowlton in Commonwealth v. White, 208 Mass. 202, at page 207, 94 N.E. 391, 393: ‘In cases where the parties think the right very important, and usually in trials for murder, a direction is given by......
  • State v. Lizotte
    • United States
    • Supreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)
    • January 27, 1969
    ...See also State v. Pike, 49 N.H. 399, III p. 406 (1870); State v. Flint, 60 Vt. 304, 14 A. 178, 2. p. 184 (1888); Commonwealth v. White, 208 Mass. 202, 94 N.E. 391, 393 (1911); and Hicks v. State, 199 Ind. 401, 156 N.E. 548, 1st Col. 549 In anticipation of our M.R.Crim.Proc., effective Decem......
  • Com. v. Pleasant
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • August 1, 1974
    ...Not all statements of coconspirators or joint criminal venturers are admissible against an absent defendant. Commonwealth v. White, 208 Mass. 202, 204, 94 N.E. 391 (1911). Commonwealth v. Carita, 356 Mass. 132, 138--139, 249 N.E.2d 5 (1969). Cf. Bruton v. United States, 391 U.S. 123, 88 S.C......
  • Commonwealth v. Borasky
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • April 1, 1913
    ...and common statement in court touching the right of challenge is that it must be exercised before the juror is sworn. See Com. v. White, 208 Mass. 202, 208, 94 N. E. 391. But without placing the decision on that ground, it is plain that the juror was indifferent in law, that he had no knowl......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • Commonwealth v. Ventura
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • April 1, 1936
    ...that such person stands indifferent. It was said by the court speaking through Chief Justice Knowlton in Commonwealth v. White, 208 Mass. 202, at page 207, 94 N.E. 391, 393: ‘In cases where the parties think the right very important, and usually in trials for murder, a direction is given by......
  • State v. Lizotte
    • United States
    • Supreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)
    • January 27, 1969
    ...See also State v. Pike, 49 N.H. 399, III p. 406 (1870); State v. Flint, 60 Vt. 304, 14 A. 178, 2. p. 184 (1888); Commonwealth v. White, 208 Mass. 202, 94 N.E. 391, 393 (1911); and Hicks v. State, 199 Ind. 401, 156 N.E. 548, 1st Col. 549 In anticipation of our M.R.Crim.Proc., effective Decem......
  • Com. v. Pleasant
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • August 1, 1974
    ...Not all statements of coconspirators or joint criminal venturers are admissible against an absent defendant. Commonwealth v. White, 208 Mass. 202, 204, 94 N.E. 391 (1911). Commonwealth v. Carita, 356 Mass. 132, 138--139, 249 N.E.2d 5 (1969). Cf. Bruton v. United States, 391 U.S. 123, 88 S.C......
  • Commonwealth v. Borasky
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
    • April 1, 1913
    ...and common statement in court touching the right of challenge is that it must be exercised before the juror is sworn. See Com. v. White, 208 Mass. 202, 208, 94 N. E. 391. But without placing the decision on that ground, it is plain that the juror was indifferent in law, that he had no knowl......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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