Lane v. State

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtMABRY, J.
Citation44 Fla. 105,32 So. 896
Decision Date30 April 1902
PartiesLANE v. STATE.

32 So. 896

44 Fla. 105

LANE
v.
STATE.

Florida Supreme Court

April 30, 1902


Error to circuit court, Sumter county; William S. Bullock, Judge.

William J. Lane was convicted of murder, and brings error. Reversed.

Syllabus by the Court

SYLLABUS

1. A homicide is justifiable, under the laws of Florida, when committed in the lawful defense of a person, when there shall be reasonable ground to apprehend a design to commit a felony, or to do some great personal injury, and there shall be imminent danger of such design being accomplished. The danger need not be actual, but may be apparent, and the slayer is to judge from the circumstances by which he is surrounded and as they appear to him. If he acts upon appearances, he does so at his peril, and can justify the killing only where the circumstances are such as to induce a reasonably cautious man to believe that the killing was necessary to save his own life or protect him from great personal injury; but, unless a reasonably cautious man would entertain the same belief from the same appearances, of which the jury are the ultimate judges, it will be no defense, even though the belief of danger was honest.

2. The belief of the accused as to the apparent necessity to kill in order to save his own life or protect him from great personal injury must be based upon facts and circumstances justifying such belief, and, where the evidence authorizes the submission of this question to the jury, the belief of the accused is material, and it is error to refuse to permit him who is permitted by statute to become a witness in his own behalf to testify to his belief based on such facts and circumstances. Carter, J., dissenting.

3. The court instructed the jury that: 'Before a person can avail himself of the defense that he used a deadly weapon in defense of his life, and be justified, 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, or to his life was in immediate danger.' Held to be would give him a reasonable apprehension that his life was in immediate danger.' Held to be erroneous. (a) It imposed upon the accused the duty of satisfying the jury that the defense was necessary; whereas, if the evidence raises a reasonable doubt it will be sufficient. (b) Though an actual necessity to kill did not exist, yet if the circumstances were such as to induce a reasonably cautious man to believe his life to be in imminent danger, or that he was in imminent danger of receiving great personal injury, it will be sufficient.

4. In determining the correctness of charges the court should consider them as a whole, but, where a special charge in itself announces a patently erroneous proposition of law, it must affirmatively and clearly appear that the presumptive harm caused thereby has been entirely removed, or the judgment should be reversed.

5. The charge set out in the third headnote being erroneous, and embodying the specific view that, if a deadly weapon was used, the accused must satisfy the jury that the killing was necessary to protect life, is not cured by other charges given in the case. Carter, J., dissenting.

6. Where the evidence on the part of the state affords no basis for the introduction of threats on the part of the deceased, but that produced for the defense shows such action or demonstration on his part, at the time of the killing, as to authorize their introduction, and they are admitted, it is not accurate for the court to instruct the jury that if they find there was no evidence tending to show that the deceased had, at the time of the killing, in fact or apparently sought a conflict with the accused, or was actually or apparently making some demonstration of attack towards the accomplishment of his threats, then they could not take into consideration any threats made prior to the killing, and especially when they were not communicated to the accused. The threats having been admitted on the basis of the overt acts shown by the defense, the jury should not be told to disregard them if they find there is no evidence of such overt acts, but the rejection of the threats should be made to depend upon whether the jury believed such evidence on the part of the defense.

COUNSEL [44 Fla. 108] R. W. Davis, R. A. Burford, and W. F. Himes, for plaintiff in error.

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

OPINION

MABRY, J.

The plaintiff in error was indicted at the fall term, A. D. 1901, of the circuit court for Sumter county, for the murder of George S. Offerman, and his trial resulted in a conviction of murder in the second degree. A writ of error was sued out to review the judgment and proceedings of the trial court, and numerous assignments of error are made. After a careful consideration of the entire record, the court is of the opinion that the judgment must be reversed for the reasons hereinafter stated, and the conclusions on these points make it unnecessary to specifically consider assignments as to which we find no error, and some relating to irregularities in the ordering, drawing, and summoning of petit jurors that need not necessarily arise again.

The trial of the accused occurred the second week of the court, and in the morning of a day of the first week the court ordered a venire to issue for 12 men drawn from the regular jury box to serve as petit jurors for the second week of the court, and also a special venire of 88 men, from which to complete a jury in the case against the accused. The 88 men were also drawn from the jury box. An irregularity occurred in the drawing of the jury, and in the afternoon of the same day, and in the absence of the accused from the courtroom, the court amended the order for the drawing made in the forenoon, and also ordered an additional [44 Fla. 109] special venire for jurors to serve in the case. The irregularity in the drawing of the jury need not occur in another trial, and no further reference to the assignments on this point will be made, except to state, without deciding whether the irregularity was sufficient to cause a reversal, or whether the presence of the accused in cases of felony is indispensable at the ordering and drawing of a special venire in his case, that it is always the safest course to have the accused personally present when the [32 So. 897] ordering or drawing of a special venire is made.

The accused was bookkeeper and in charge of a store run in connection with a sawmill at the place where the homicide occurred. In detailing as a witness in his own behalf the circumstances of the homicide, the accused testified that: 'Mr. Offerman came in, and called for his check, and, when giving it, gave out others to other parties. And in a short time he came to the place where I gave them out, and said his check was wrong. I took his check, and looked at it, referred it to my office book, and saw it was correct there. Then went to the time book, which was turned in by Mr. Steadman, and compared them. Found them all to be the same. In the meantime he came around in the office where I was, and said the check was not right, and I explained it to him, showing where it was, according to the time that had been turned in to me. He said, 'All right, if the check is all right.' He said it seemed that I wanted to kick up some disturbance about it. I told him 'No,' that the check was right according to the time I had received from Mr. Steadman, and I could not make it out otherwise. Then I told him I did not care to have any further talk and trouble about the matter, and to get out of the office. He hesitated a few minutes. I slightly pushed him with my left hand, [44 Fla. 110] and told him to get out of the office, and go on and hush; that I did not want any disturbance at all. He said he would get out of the office, and did so very slowly after I pushed him. In the meantime he was saying it was me that wanted to kick up a row. I told him, after replying to that, that I did not want to kick up any row; to go on and hush; that I had asked him as a gentleman to get out. There was some words--oaths--passed by each of us. After the talk, I had ordered him out. I had asked him to hush; to get out. He then said he would get out if I would. There were some other oaths used by each one of us, and he was walking up and down the counter outside of the office. It hushed for a few minutes, a short time. I do not know how many minutes; only a short time. He commenced talking again about his check; it was not he that wanted to raise the disturbance,--'wanted to raise hell,' I believe, is the way he expressed himself. Then I stepped up, and said: 'No, I don't want to raise no hell. I had asked you to get out of the office as a gentleman. Go on out, Mr. Offerman. I don't want to have any disturbance.' He said he would get out, but did not leave. He walked then backward and forward up the counter. Then I cursed, and told him to go out. He turned, and cursed, and started towards me. I was standing at the desk in my office, where I had been at work after giving out the checks. Seeing him make a start towards me, and both of us using such words as we did,--we did not curse each other, but they were curse words by both of us, which, of course, were very hard feelings between us,--seeing him start towards me, and knowing that a hatchet and 'deer foot' were lying on the counter, which I knew he had been looking at, as his face was turned towards them quite a while, I turned to my drawer, where [44 Fla. 111] a pistol was, took it out, and fired, thinking that he was coming on me either to kill or may be beat me, I did not know which, but knowing that, if he got these weapons, that he would kill me, and I fired.' He further stated that at the time he fired the deceased was 'reaching over the counter, making his way towards the office,' and he was 'reaching over to where the hatchet and...

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39 practice notes
  • Frank v. United States, No. 6065.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • 7 July 1930
    ...L. R. A. (N. S.) 1166, 140 Am. St. Rep. 668; State v. Holbrook, 98 Or. 43, 188 P. 947, 192 P. 42 F.2d 628 640, 193 P. 434; Lane v. State, 44 Fla. 105, 32 So. 896; People v. Epaski, 57 App. Div. 91, 67 N. Y. S. 1033; People v. Shanley, 49 App. Div. 56, 63 N. Y. S. 449; People v. Downs, 123 N......
  • Keigans v. State
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 3 August 1906
    ...it could not be cured by any other instructions which might have been given. See Sigsbee v. State, 43 Fla. 524, 30 So. 816; Lane v. State, 44 Fla. 105, 32 So. 896. I do not think that either that paragraph of the charge given by the trial judge numbered 13, copied in subdivision 1 of Mr. Ju......
  • Atlantic Coast Line R. Co. v. Crosby
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 20 February 1907
    ...and clearly appear that the presumptive harm caused thereby has been entirely removed or the judgment should be reversed.' Lane v. State, 44 Fla. 105, text 120, 32 So. 896, text 900. Also see Knight v. State, 44 Fla. 94, 32 So. 110; Ward v. State, 51 Fla. 133, 40 So. 177. As is said in Hugh......
  • Robinson v. State, 609
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • 10 January 1910
    ...in the instructions given. (People v. Marshall, 112 Cal. 422; Farnham v. U.S. 1 Colo. 309; State v. Gannon, 75 Conn. 206; Lane v. State, 32 So. 896; Wood v. State, 31 Fla. 221; State v. Johnson, 69 Ia. 623; Barnett v. Comm., 84 Ky. 449; Josephim v. State, 39 Miss. 613; Cuny v. State, 4 Neb.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
39 cases
  • Frank v. United States, No. 6065.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • 7 July 1930
    ...L. R. A. (N. S.) 1166, 140 Am. St. Rep. 668; State v. Holbrook, 98 Or. 43, 188 P. 947, 192 P. 42 F.2d 628 640, 193 P. 434; Lane v. State, 44 Fla. 105, 32 So. 896; People v. Epaski, 57 App. Div. 91, 67 N. Y. S. 1033; People v. Shanley, 49 App. Div. 56, 63 N. Y. S. 449; People v. Downs, 123 N......
  • Keigans v. State
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 3 August 1906
    ...it could not be cured by any other instructions which might have been given. See Sigsbee v. State, 43 Fla. 524, 30 So. 816; Lane v. State, 44 Fla. 105, 32 So. 896. I do not think that either that paragraph of the charge given by the trial judge numbered 13, copied in subdivision 1 of Mr. Ju......
  • Atlantic Coast Line R. Co. v. Crosby
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 20 February 1907
    ...and clearly appear that the presumptive harm caused thereby has been entirely removed or the judgment should be reversed.' Lane v. State, 44 Fla. 105, text 120, 32 So. 896, text 900. Also see Knight v. State, 44 Fla. 94, 32 So. 110; Ward v. State, 51 Fla. 133, 40 So. 177. As is said in Hugh......
  • Robinson v. State, 609
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • 10 January 1910
    ...in the instructions given. (People v. Marshall, 112 Cal. 422; Farnham v. U.S. 1 Colo. 309; State v. Gannon, 75 Conn. 206; Lane v. State, 32 So. 896; Wood v. State, 31 Fla. 221; State v. Johnson, 69 Ia. 623; Barnett v. Comm., 84 Ky. 449; Josephim v. State, 39 Miss. 613; Cuny v. State, 4 Neb.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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