Hubbard v. State

Decision Date25 May 1896
PartiesHUBBARD et al. v. STATE.
CourtFlorida Supreme Court

Error to circuit court, Duval county; R. M. Call, Judge.

Joseph Hubbard and Robert Hubbard were convicted of murder and of manslaughter, respectively, and bring error. Reversed.

Syllabus by the Court


1. On the examination of the jurors on their voir dire, the judge expressly naming each one of the prisoners' counsel asked of each juror if said counsel or any one had talked with him about the case, or spoken to, or had any conversation of any kind whatever with him relative to the case. Held, that the question tended to prejudice the defendants' case, from the pointedness of its aim at their defending counsel; that, if such questions became necessary, they should be more generally framed, with less pointedness at any particular counsel in the case; that the utmost care should always be used by trial judges, especially in capital cases, not to let any expression fall, either by questions or otherwise, that is capable of being interpreted by the jury as an index of what he thinks of the prisoner his counsel, or his case.

2. The provisions of section 2920 of the Revised Statutes are mandatory, and positively require that the charge of the court in capital cases shall be wholly in writing; and if, in such a case, any portion of the charge is given orally, and exception thereto is properly and seasonably taken, it is ground for reversal, as such provisions of law are required to be complied with strictly. If the manner of giving the charge is not excepted to promptly at the time it is given orally, it will be considered as waived, and is not ground of reversal.

3. It is error to instruct the jury in a murder trial that, before a defendant can be justified in taking the life of his assailant, he must satisfy the jury that the defense was necessary at the time, that he did all he could to avoid it and that it was necessary to protect his own life, etc. The established rule of law is that, if the evidence upon this or any other material question in the case goes far enough to raise a reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury, it is sufficient for acquittal, whether the jury are satisfied upon the point or not.

COUNSEL John T. Walker, J. N. Stripling, and Cromwell Gibbons, for plaintiffs in error.

W. B. Lamar, Atty. Gen., for the State.



The plaintiffs in error were jointly indicted at the spring term 1895, of the circuit court of Duval county, for the crime of murder, and were jointly tried therefor at the fall term, 1895, the trial resulting in a conviction of Joseph Hubbard of murder in the first degree, and Robert Hubbard of manslaughter, for which the former was sentenced to death, and the latter to imprisonment in the penitentiary for 15 years. From these judgments the said defendants have jointly taken a writ of error.

There are 10 assignments of error, but, from the conclusions we have reached, it becomes unnecessary to consider them all. While the jurors who tried the case were being examined on the voir dire, after they had satisfactorily answered all questions testing the formation or expression of any opinion as to the guilt or innocence of the accused, and as to the possession of any bias or prejudice for or against them, the judge, at the request of the state attorney, propounded to each juror the following question: 'Has Mr. Stripling Mr. Walker, Mr. Gibbons, or any one talked with you about this case, or spoken to or had any communication of any kind whatever with you relative to the case?' The question was objected to by the defendants, on the ground that it was calculated to create the impression that the defendants or their counsel had made improper efforts to influence the jury, and was therefore calculated to prejudice the accused in the minds of the jury. The objection was overruled, and the ruling is assigned as error. There is nothing shown in the record before us as to whether the circuit judge had any evidence or ground for believing or suspecting that any of the counsel for the defense, who are pointedly named in the question, had been improperly communicating with the proposed jurors about the case. We will not, therefore, declare whether the propounding of the question objected to in this instance was reversible error or not, inasmuch as a broad discretion is very properly lodged in trial courts in securing for the trial of every case a jury that is perfectly fair, unprejudiced, and impartial. We will say, however, that the question here propounded is aimed with peculiar pointedness at the three counsel who were defending the accused, and, from this pointedness, was capable of impressing the jury...

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22 cases
  • Young v. State
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • March 15, 1923
    ...the necessity of a resort to the means employed by him in defense of himself. Hathaway v. State, 32 Fla. 56, 13 South. 592; Hubbard v. State, 37 Fla. 156, 20 So. 235; v. State, 44 Fla. 105, 32 So. 896. In Lane v. State, supra, in considering a charge substantially the same as this, the cour......
  • Pensacola Electric Co. v. Bissett
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • March 4, 1910
    ... ... the examination made by myself and Dr. Renshaw.' Question ... by plaintiff's attorney: 'Did you or not in that ... statement state that you had found a tumor and cancerous ... growth?' Answer: 'That is what I described as the ... indurated prolapsed womb or tumor mass as I ... charges and instructions, this court has rather clearly ... defined its position. See Murphy v. State, 31 Fla ... 166, 12 So. 453, Hubbard v. State, 37 Fla. 156, 20 ... So. 235, and Galloway v. State, 47 Fla. 32, 36 So ... 168, all cited to us by the plaintiff in error, as is also ... ...
  • Mathis v. State
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • March 31, 1903 counsel constitutes reversible error, we are of opinion that it was ill-advised and unfortunate. As was said by this court in Hubbard v. State, 37 Fla. 156, text, 159, 20 235, 236, 'the utmost care should always be used by the trial judge, especially in cases where human life is involved......
  • Lane v. State
    • United States
    • Florida Supreme Court
    • April 30, 1902 defending himself, it will be sufficient if the evidence raises a reasonable doubt in favor of a lawful defense. In the case of Hubbard v. State, supra, the was reversed for giving substantially the same charge, regardless of other general instructions in the case. Murphy v. State, 31 Fl......
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