Goldsby v. United States

Decision Date02 December 1895
Docket NumberNo. 620,620
Citation160 U.S. 70,16 S.Ct. 216,40 L.Ed. 343
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Crawford Goldsby, alias Cherokee Bill, was convicted of murder, and brings error. Affirmed.

The plaintiff was indicted on the 8th of February, 1895 for the murder of Ernest Melton, a white man, and not an Indian. The crime was charged to have been committed at the 'Cherokee Nation, in the Indian country, on the 18th day of November, 1894.' Prior to impaneling the jury, on the 23d of February, 1895, the accused filed two affidavits for continuance until the next term of court. The first, filed on the 12th of February, 1895, was based on the ground that for some time prior to the finding of the indictment the defendant had been in jail, was sick, and unable properly to prepare his defense, and that he was informed, if further time were given him, there were witnesses, whose names were not disclosed in the application, who could be produced to establish that he was not guilty as charged. This was overruled. The second was filed on the 22d day of February, upon the ground that four witnesses, whom the court had allowed to be summoned at government expense, were not in attendance, and that there were others, whose names were given, who could prove his innocence, and who could be produced if the case were continued until the next term of court. The affidavit made no statement that the four witnesses had been actually found at the places indicated, and gave no reason for their nonattendance, and asked no compulsory process to secure it.

Before the trial the accused filed three requests for leave to summon a number of witnesses at government expense. The first was made on the 12th of February, and asked for 25. The affidavit made by the accused gave the names of the witnesses, and the substance of what was expected to be proven by them. The court allowed 15. Of the 10 witnesses disallowed, 2 were government witnesses, and were already summoned; 7 were the wives of witnesses whom the court ordered summoned, the affidavit stating that the husband and wife were relied on to prove the same fact. The other witness disallowed, the affidavit disclosed, was also relied on simply to corroborate the testimony of some of the witnesses who were allowed. The second request was made on the 16th of February, asking for six witnesses, all of whom were ordered to be summoned. The third request was made on the 19th of February for two additional witnesses,—one Harris and wife. This application was refused, both being government witnesses.

On the trial the uncontradicted testimony on behalf of the government was that at about noon, on the day stated, two men robbed a store at a town in the Indian Territory, and that during the course of the robbery the murder was committed by one of those engaged therein. The testimony for the prosecution tended to identify the accused not only as having been one of the robbers, but also as being the one by whom the murder was committed. The testimony for the defense tended to disprove that of the government, which identified the accused, and tended, moreover, by proof of an alibi, to demonstrate the impossibility of the offense having been committed by him. There was a verdict of guilty as charged. The defendant brings the case, by error, here.

Wm. M. Cravens, for plaintiff in error.

Asst. Atty. Gen. Whitney, for defendant in error.

Mr. Justice WHITE, after stating the facts, delivered the opinion of the court.

There are 14 assignments of error. Two address themselves to the refusal of the court to grant the applications for continuance; three to the action of the court in denying the request to summon certain witnesses at government expense; four relate to rulings of the court admitting or rejecting testimony; and, finally, five to errors asserted to have been committed by the court in its charge to the jury. We will consider these various matters under their respective headings.

In a recent case we said: 'That the action of a trial court upon an application for continuance is purely a matter of discretion, not subject to review by this court, unless it be clearly shown that such discretion has been abused, is settled by too many authorities to be now open to question.' Isaacs v. U. S., 16 Sup. Ct. 51, and authorities there cited. We can see nothing in the action on the applications for continu- ance, which we have recited in the statement of facts, to take it out of the control of this rule. The contention at bar, that, because there had been no preliminary examination of the accused, he was thereby deprived of his constitutional guaranty to be confronted by the witnesses, by mere statement, demonstrates its error.

There was likewise no error in the action of the court in relation to the various requests to summon witnesses at government expense. On the contrary, the fullest latitude was allowed the accused. Were it otherwise, the right to summon witnesses at the expense of the government is by the statute (Rev. St. § 878) left to the discretion of the trial court, and the exercise of such discretion is not reviewable here. Crumpton v. U. S., 138 U. S. 361, 364, 11 Sup. Ct. 355.

There was proof showing that at the time of the robbery a watch charm had been taken by the accused from one of the persons present in the house which was robbed. This charm was produced by a witness for the prosecution, who testified that it had been given him by one Verdigris Kid, who the testimony tended to show had participated in the robbery; that this giving of the charm to the witness had taken place in the presence of the accused; that at the time it was given the fact of the robbery was talked of by the accused, he saying 'that he had made a little hold up, and got about one hundred and sixty-four dollars, as well as I remember, and that he had shot a fellow, I believe.' To the introduction of the watch charm, objection was made. We think it was clearly admissible, and came directly under the rule announced in Moore v. U. S., 150 U. S. 61, 14 Sup. Ct. 26. John Schufeldt, the son of the man whose store was robbed, in his testimony on behalf of the government, identified the accused, not only as one of the robbers, but also as the one by whom the murder was committed. He was asked on cross-examination whether he had heard his father, in the presence of a Mr. John Rose, say that the robbers were, one, an Indian, and the other a white man. He answered that he did not recollect hearing him make such a statement. On the opening of the defendant's case, Schufeldt was recalled for further cross-examination, and the question was again asked him, he replying to the same effect. Thereupon the defense put Rose upon the stand to testify to the conversation had by him with the father of Schufeldt in his (John Schufeldt's) presence, the father not being a witness in the cause. On objection the testimony was excluded on the ground that while it would be competent, if the proper foundation had been laid, to impeach the witness by proving statements made by him, it was incompetent to affect his credibility by proving statements made by another person, not a witness in the case. The ruling was manifestly correct.

The government...

To continue reading

Request your trial
191 cases
  • Gomes v. University of Maine System, No. CIV.03-123-B-W.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Maine
    • April 8, 2005
    ...allow the Government to call a rebuttal witness in a criminal trial is reviewed for abuse of discretion. Goldsby v. United States, 160 U.S. 70, 74, 16 S.Ct. 216, 40 L.Ed. 343 (1895); United States v. Jalbert, 504 F.2d 892, 893 (1st Cir.1974). The decision to allow the testimony of unlisted ......
  • Marron v. United States
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
    • October 5, 1925
    ...error to receive in rebuttal testimony which ought to have been offered as a part of the case in chief. Goldsby v. U. S., 160 U. S. 70, 74, 16 S. Ct. 216, 40 L. Ed. 343; Seebach v. U. S. (C. C. A.) 262 F. 885, 887, 888; U. S. v. Heitler (D. C.) 274 F. 401, Kissane was the policeman on the b......
  • Neufield v. United States
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — District of Columbia Circuit
    • January 27, 1941
    ...all compulsory process is discretionary where the production of the witness is sought at Government expense. Goldsby v. United States, 1895, 160 U.S. 70, 16 S.Ct. 216, 40 L.Ed. 343; Crumpton v. United States, 1891, 138 U.S. 361, 11 S.Ct. 355, 34 L.Ed. 958; Gibson v. United States, 8 Cir., 1......
  • State v. Olsen
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • June 23, 1982 the case in chief rests within the sound discretion of the trial judge is widely recognized. See, e.g., Goldsby v. United States, 160 U.S. 70, 16 S.Ct. 216, 40 L.Ed. 343 (1895); United States v. Marsh, 451 F.2d 219 (9th Cir. 1971); Rodella v. United States, 286 F.2d 306 (9th Cir. 1960); ......
  • 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