Howie v. State, 20880

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
Writing for the CourtSTEVENS, J.
Citation121 Miss. 197,83 So. 158
PartiesHOWIE v. STATE
Decision Date24 November 1919
Docket Number20880

83 So. 158

121 Miss. 197

HOWIE
v.
STATE

No. 20880

Supreme Court of Mississippi

November 24, 1919


October, 1919

1. CRIMINAL LAW. Petition for writ of error coram nobis taken as true on demurrer.

A demurrer to a petition for a writ of error coram nobis admits all facts well stated or pleaded in the petition.

2. INSANE PERSON. Common law prevails where insanity is made known at the trial.

There is no statute in this state which lays down the procedure in cases where it is made known to the court that the defendant is insane at the time he is placed upon trial for a felony, but in such case the common law on the subject is clear and must prevail.

3. INSANE PERSONS. Not to be arraigned for crime.

If a man in his sound memory commits a capital offense and before arraignment becomes mad he ought not to be arraigned for it, because he is not able to plead to it with that advice and caution that he ought.

4. INSANE PERSON. Not to be tried for crime.

If after a prisoner has pleaded he becomes mad, he cannot be tried, for he cannot make his defense.

5. SAME.

If after one charged with a felony has been tried and found guilty, he loses his senses before judgment, judgment should not be pronounced.

6. SAME.

If after one charged with a felony has been tried, convicted and sentenced, he becomes insane, execution should be stayed.

7. CRIMINAL LAW. No appeal by one convicted while unknown to be insane.

Where an accused was arraigned, tried and convicted while insane, such insanity being unknown to the court he has no remedy by appeal.

[121 Miss. 198]

8. CRIMINAL LAW. Writ of coram nobis recognized.

A writ on the nature of the writ of coram nobis has always been recognized in this state as a common-law remedy in appropriate cases.

9. CRIMINAL LAW. Writ of coram nobis.

A writ in the nature of a writ of coram nobis is applicable to criminal as well as civil proceedings. It is founded upon the inherent power of the court over its judgments and proceedings.

10. CRIMINAL LAW. Writ of coram nobis applies to reverse conviction of one insane at trial.

A circuit court judge has power, after the expiration of a term, to issue the writ of error coram nobis to reverse a judgment of conviction in a criminal case, where it appears that the defendant was insane at the time of the trial, and the fact was not made known at the trial, and upon the assignment of such error in fact, if disputed by the state, to cause a jury to be impaneled in term to try such issue; and the venue for the trial of such issue may be changed to another court but the change carries the whole case.

HON. A. J. MCLAURIN, Judge.

APPEAL from the circuit court of Rankin county, HON. A. J. MCLAURIN, Judge.

George Hawie was convicted of murder and sentenced to death. From an order sustaining a demurrer to a petition for a writ of error coram nobis, he appeals.

The facts are fully stated in the opinion of the court.

Judgment reversed, demurrer overruled, and cause remanded.

L. M. Burch, for appellant.

Appellant was tried, convicted and sentenced to be hanged, at the January, 1919, of the circuit court of Rankin county, Mississippi. He was tried on the 24th day of January, of the said term, and on the 25th day of January, the said court finally adjourned.

Between the time of appellant's conviction and the final adjournment of said court, he was confined within the county jail of Rankin county, without an opportunity to communicate with any one who was interested in him, or who knew of his mental infirmities. [121 Miss. 199] Relatives of the appellant knew nothing of the said trial, until after the adjournment of the court.

On the day of June, 1919, in vacation, the appellant filed his application with the trial judge for a writ of error coram nobis to issue, because of certain errors of fact, committed at the trial of his case, which said errors of fact, the trial court had no knowledge of at the time of trial. In his said application, the appellant, through his attorney, alleges that at the time of and during the said trial, he was an insane man, to the extent that he was wholly incapable of pleading to the indictment against him, or, of offering any sort of defense, or of making a defense to the said charge; further, that he was, so insane, at the time of the commission of the crime charged, and is still insane.

The said petition also alleges that appellant was deprived of his right of a fair and impartial trial as contemplated by law, because of a violent prejudice, which existed in the minds of the people of the county in which he was tried; that by reason of threats of mob violence, directed against the appellant, the attorneys representing him, were deterred and restrained in their efforts to properly present appellant's case to the court and jury; that by reason of the said prejudice, appellant was prevented from presenting a motion to the court for a change of venue to have his case removed from the said county, because the said mob (then and there gathered around the place of his trial), prevented appellant from doing so by threatening to do violence to any one who might make the necessary affidavit, required by law, to accompany the motion for such change; notwithstanding his case had been universally prejudged in the said county, appellant was, for this reason, forced to go to trial in a court where his conviction was a foregone conclusion

Appellant further alleges that the said violent prejudice extended, not only to himself, but to the immediate [121 Miss. 200] members of his family, said family being warned to stay away from the Rankin county court while appellant was being tried, lest the said mob do them violence also, and for this reason none of his said family attended the trial.

And for other causes set forth in his said petition, which said petition is a part of the record before this court on appeal, and to be considered as a whole in passing on the merits of said petition.

Appellant would show that his application for the said writ was set down for hearing at the July, 1919, term, of the said Rankin county court; that when same came on to be heard, the district attorney acting in behalf of the state interposed a demurrer to said petition which is in part as follows: "Said petition affirmatively shows that each and every ground cited therein for a writ coram nobis existed at the time of the trial and conviction of the said defendant."

The said demurrer was by the court sustained and the appellant denied a hearing on the merits of his petition or the relief prayed for therein, to which said action on the part of the court, the appellant duly accepted and prosecutes this appeal.

By the interposition of the said demurrer to appellant's petition for the said writ, the state admits each and every allegation contained therein, true as stated, and thereby confess that appellant was in truth and in fact a lunatic at, and during the period of his trial, and wholly incapable of offering any defense he might have had to the crime charged against him; that he was further incapable of informing his attorneys (who were appointed by the trial court just a few minutes prior to entering upon the trial), of any defense that he might have, because of his said insanity. The question as to whether the appellant was in truth and in fact, so insane, at the time of his trial is, therefore, [121 Miss. 201] not in question here, same having been disposed of by the said demurrer.

The district attorney at the hearing of the said demurrer, relied solely on the case of Fugate v. State, 85 Miss. 94, as an authority to sustain his position. In the Fugate case this court held that, the writ could not be so comprehensively used as heretofore under the common law, because of various statutory enactments in this state, and said:

"Within this rule must fall the defense of insanity, as well as all other defenses existing at the time of the commission of the crime, within this rule must fall all cases of accident and surprise, of verdicts against evidence, of newly discovered evidence, and all like matters."

Clearly, under this rule, had the appellant based his petition for the said writ on his lack of sanity at the time of the commission of the crime, the sustaining of the demurrer could not have been here complained of. But such is not the case. His petition raises the question of his sanity and his capacity to defend himself in a court of justice, at the time of his arraignment, plea, trial and the rendition of judgment against him.

The rule above quoted from the Fugate case is but an extract or quotation from the case of Sanders v. State, 85 Ind. 318, 44 Am. Rep. 29. The facts in the Sanders case, are on all fours with the facts of the case at bar. Judge ELLIOTT, in the Indiana case, after having used the exact language quoted above from Fugate v. State, supra, said, when he undertook to differentiate between the question of the insanity of a defendant at the time of the commission of the crime, and his insanity at the time of the trial and judgment, as grounds for the issuance of the writ coram nobis:

"We do not deem it necessary, to discuss the question of the appellant's insanity at the time the plea of [121 Miss. 202] guilty was entered there are cases holding that such cause was sufficient ground for a writ coram nobis or a proceeding of like character. Adler v. State, 35 Ark. 517; State v. Patton, 10 La. 229; Warton, Cr. Law, 52; 1st Bish. Ct. Law, sec. 396; McLean v. Davis, 77 Ind. 419. All we deem it necessary to say upon this point is, that if the court below has determined this question before receiving the plea, an appellate court should be slow to interfere, if it should indeed interfere at all, and should only do so upon clear and convincing evidence. The question of the appellant's capacity is however a circumstance of importance to be taken...

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34 practice notes
  • Lamb v. State
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • March 1, 1926
    ...110 S.W. 672, 131 Mo.App. 585; Jeude v. Sims, 166 S.W. 1048, 258 Mo. 26; State v. Wallace, 108 S.W. 542, 209 Mo. 358; Hawie v. State, 83 So. 158, 121 Miss. 197, 10 A. L. R. 205, text 213 and notes; Wharton's Crim. Proc. 1715; Fugate v. State, 87 So. 554, 85 Miss. 94, 107 Am. St. Rep. 268, 3......
  • State v. Huffman
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oregon
    • May 23, 1956
    ...Judgments, 812; 24 C.J.S., Criminal Law, § 1606. * * *' See also, Jones v. Commonwealth, 269 Ky. 779, 108 S.W.2d 816; Howie v. State, 121 Miss. 197, 83 So. 158, 10 A.L.R. 205; People v. Guariglia, 303 N.Y. 338, 102 N.E.2d In State ex rel. Lopez v. Killigrew, 202 Ind. 397, 174 N.E. 808, 809,......
  • Keeton v. State, 31931
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • April 6, 1936
    ...by the common law, the distinguished authorities on criminal law and procedure and the prior decisions of this court. Hawie v. State, 121 Miss. 197, 83 So. 158; Freeman v. People, 4 Denio (N. Y.) 9, 47 Am. Dec. 216; 16 C. J. 789; 3 A. L. R. 94. Complaint is made at the action of the trial C......
  • Sinclair v. State, 28673
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • February 16, 1931
    ...An insane person is incapable of acting with criminal intent and cannot be held criminally responsible for his act. Howie v. State, 83 So. 158; Hawie v. Hawie, 91 So. 131; Grisson v. State, 62 Miss. 167; Smith v. State, 49 So. 945; Cunningham v. State, 56 Miss. 269; Kearney v. State, 8 So. ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
34 cases
  • Lamb v. State
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • March 1, 1926
    ...110 S.W. 672, 131 Mo.App. 585; Jeude v. Sims, 166 S.W. 1048, 258 Mo. 26; State v. Wallace, 108 S.W. 542, 209 Mo. 358; Hawie v. State, 83 So. 158, 121 Miss. 197, 10 A. L. R. 205, text 213 and notes; Wharton's Crim. Proc. 1715; Fugate v. State, 87 So. 554, 85 Miss. 94, 107 Am. St. Rep. 268, 3......
  • State v. Huffman
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oregon
    • May 23, 1956
    ...Judgments, 812; 24 C.J.S., Criminal Law, § 1606. * * *' See also, Jones v. Commonwealth, 269 Ky. 779, 108 S.W.2d 816; Howie v. State, 121 Miss. 197, 83 So. 158, 10 A.L.R. 205; People v. Guariglia, 303 N.Y. 338, 102 N.E.2d In State ex rel. Lopez v. Killigrew, 202 Ind. 397, 174 N.E. 808, 809,......
  • Keeton v. State, 31931
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • April 6, 1936
    ...by the common law, the distinguished authorities on criminal law and procedure and the prior decisions of this court. Hawie v. State, 121 Miss. 197, 83 So. 158; Freeman v. People, 4 Denio (N. Y.) 9, 47 Am. Dec. 216; 16 C. J. 789; 3 A. L. R. 94. Complaint is made at the action of the trial C......
  • Sinclair v. State, 28673
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
    • February 16, 1931
    ...An insane person is incapable of acting with criminal intent and cannot be held criminally responsible for his act. Howie v. State, 83 So. 158; Hawie v. Hawie, 91 So. 131; Grisson v. State, 62 Miss. 167; Smith v. State, 49 So. 945; Cunningham v. State, 56 Miss. 269; Kearney v. State, 8 So. ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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