Garlitz v. State

Decision Date26 June 1889
Citation18 A. 39,71 Md. 293
PartiesGARLITZ v. STATE.
CourtMaryland Court of Appeals

Appeal from circuit court, Allegany county.

Melvin C. Garlitz appeals from a conviction of murder.

Argued before ALVEY, C.J., and MILLER, ROBINSON, IRVING, STONE BRYAN, and MCSHERRY, JJ.

Ferdinand Williams and R. T. Semmes,

p>Page for appellant.

Wm. Pinckney Whyte, Atty. Gen., David W Sloan, State's Atty., and Jas. A. McHenry for the State.

ALVEY C.J.

The prisoner, the appellant in this case, was indicted for the willful and deliberate murder of his wife in one of the public streets of the city of Cumberland, on the 26th day of March, 1889, where she had met him by his own request. He pleaded "not guilty," and was tried by a jury, and found guilty of murder in the first degree. In the course of the trial the counsel for the prisoner took 14 bills of exception; some to rulings with respect to the qualification of jurors, and others as to questions of the admissibility or non-admissibility of evidence. The first four bills of exceptions present questions arising upon the impaneling of the jury; the exceptions being taken to rulings upon challenges for cause interposed by the prisoner.

It appears by the first exception that all the jurors of the regular panel, upon being sworn on their voir dire, proved to be disqualified; and of a large number of talesmen summoned and sworn on their voir dire seven jurors were qualified and sworn. Hiram H. Little, a talesman, was then called, and, being sworn on his voir dire, in reply to the question whether he had formed or expressed an opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the prisoner, said he had. He was then asked upon what his opinion was based, and he replied, "Upon the newspapers and rumor." On further examination he said that the opinion he had formed "was not of a fixed or positive character; that he had not, to his knowledge, talked with any witness in the case, nor with any person who claimed to have any knowledge of the facts of the case; that he had no prejudice or bias in his mind for or against the prisoner; that he felt confident that if he should be sworn as a juror in the case he could give the prisoner a perfectly fair and impartial trial, according to the evidence produced by the witnesses, and be governed by the evidence, and that alone." He further swore, in answer to questions asked by counsel for the prisoner, that he "believed and accepted as true the accounts, verbal and printed, which he had heard and read, and had seen no reason since to change his belief; but he felt confident that if sworn as a juror he could and would be governed and guided alone by the evidence, and could render a fair and impartial verdict, but that it would require evidence to change his opinion." The court having pronounced him competent as a juror, the prisoner thereupon challenged him peremptorily, and excepted to the opinion of the court.

In the second exception it appears that Nimrod Little, a talesman, was sworn on his voir dire, and, in answer to the usual question, said he had formed and expressed an opinion, "but that such opinion was based on newspaper reports and rumors, and that such opinion was not of a fixed or positive character; that he had not conversed with any of the witnesses in the case, nor with any person who claimed to have any knowledge of the facts; that he had neither prejudice nor bias for or against the prisoner, and felt confident that, if accepted as a juror, he could render a perfectly fair and impartial verdict, according to the evidence, and the evidence alone, which might be produced on the trial." And on further examination by the counsel for the prisoner he said "that the opinion or belief which he had so formed or expressed as to the guilt or innocence of the prisoner, he still entertained, and that it would take some evidence to change that belief, but that it could be changed by the evidence; that he could render a fair and impartial verdict on the evidence alone, irrespective of the opinion he had so formed or expressed." Whereupon the court pronounced this talesman qualified as a juror, and the prisoner then challenged him peremptorily, and excepted to the ruling of the court.

The third bill of exception was taken to the ruling of the court in holding that John A. Martin, a talesman, was competent to be sworn as a juror. This talesman answered the question substantially in the same manner, and showed his mind to be in all respects in a similar state and condition to the minds of the talesmen named in the two preceding exceptions. He was emphatic in saying that the opinion he had formed on newspaper accounts and conversations was not of a fixed or positive character; that he had no bias or prejudice for or against the prisoner; and that he felt confident that he could give the prisoner a perfectly fair and impartial trial, according to the evidence that might be adduced on the trial. In answer to questions propounded by the counsel of the accused he said: "I have an opinion from what I have read, but it can be changed by testimony." He also said that he believed what he had heard and read, and would continue to take it as the truth until he had other evidence; that the opinion he had formed would readily yield to evidence; and that he believed that he would be able to weigh the evidence as fully and fairly as though he had never formed an opinion. Thereupon the court pronounced this talesman qualified to be sworn as a juror, and he was accordingly accepted and sworn, with the prisoner's 20 challenges still unexhausted. The prisoner excepted to the ruling of the court declaring the talesman Martin competent. Afterwards Charles Keyser, a talesman, was called and examined on his voir dire, and declared to be competent as a juror, but was thereupon challenged peremptorily by the prisoner, thereby exhausting his 20 peremptory challenges. And then Thomas Brown, a talesman, was called and examined on his voir dire, and was declared to be competent by the court; whereupon the prisoner challenged said Brown peremptorily, but which challenge was disallowed by the court, because the prisoner had exhausted all of his peremptory challenges before Brown was called, and therefore Brown was sworn as a juror, to which ruling of the court, the prisoner excepted.

We have thus fully stated the facts to show the basis of the several rulings of the court in disallowing the challenges for cause interposed by the prisoner. The fourth exception seems to have been taken for the purpose of showing how the prisoner might be or had been prejudiced by being required to expend his peremptory challenges on talesmen challenged for cause, but which challenges for cause had been overruled.

1. All persons accused of crime are entitled, as matter of right, to be tried by a fair and impartial jury, selected according to law. About this there can be no question. But the question is constantly presented in practice, by what standard or test is the condition of the mind to be tried, in order to obtain with reasonable certainty the requisite degree of fairness and impartiality in those called upon to serve as jurors? In this age of intelligence and universal reading, with newspapers in the hands of every man with sufficient intelligence to qualify him to sit upon a jury, to require that jurors shall come to the investigation of crime committed in their community, no matter how notorious or atrocious it may be, with minds wholly unaffected or unimpressed by what they may have read or heard in regard to it, is simply to maintain a rule or standard by which every man who is fit to sit upon a jury may be excluded. Many crimes are committed under circumstances of such flagrant atrociousness as to impress and shock the whole community the ignorant as well as the intelligent; and, if such rule of exclusion were applied, it would. in many cases, render the impaneling a jury impossible. Such state of things could never be contemplated by the law. All men, by natural instinct, are supposed to be more or less biased against crime in the abstract; and every member of the community as against which crime has been committed is naturally interested and impressed with the circumstances of crimes of atrocious character. But this natural bias, however atrocious the crime, can never be regarded as a sufficient cause for the disqualification of the juror. The intellectual as well as the moral impressions, produced by the reading or hearing of reports or statements of facts in regard to the commission of crime, are such that intelligent minds cannot resist; indeed, in many cases the mind receives the impressions from such statements as by intuition. But these impressions, with intelligent, fair-minded men, are always of a hypothetical nature, resting upon the supposition of the truth of what they have read or heard. The minds of such men always remain open to the correction of former impressions, and remain entirely impartial, with power to hear and determine upon the real facts of the case, without the least bias in favor of former impressions, whatever they may have...

To continue reading

Request your trial
1 cases
  • Green v. State
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • June 3, 1981
    ...challenges and told the court he was "satisfied" with the panel. Under these circumstances, we see no reversible error. Garlitz v. State, 71 Md. 293, 301, 18 A. 39 (1889); see also McCree v. State, 33 Md.App. 82, 97-98, 363 A.2d 642 Louis Addison had been charged as a codefendant in the the......

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