Linnen v. Banfield

Decision Date22 July 1897
Citation114 Mich. 93,72 N.W. 1
CourtMichigan Supreme Court

Error to circuit court, Washtenaw county; Edward D. Kinne, Judge.

Action by James Linnen against Paris Banfield and others. Judgment for defendants, and plaintiff brings error. Reversed.

Lehman Bros., for appellant.

J. W Bennett, for appellees Banfield and Collins.

John L Duffy, for appellee Sheehan.


This is an action of trespass. The declaration contains counts for false imprisonment and for trespass in making a search of plaintiff's dwelling house. The defendant Banfield justified the arrest, on the ground that it was made on reasonable suspicion of felony, and the search was justified under a warrant issued by a justice of the peace. The case was discontinued as to defendant Peterson. The material facts appearing on the trial were as follows: "Defendant John V. Sheehan is a dealer in books and stationery in the city of Ann Arbor, and was engaged in this business in December 1894. Defendants Banfield and Collins were, respectively chief of police and patrolman of said city during that month. The plaintiff was engaged in peddling patent buttons and song books. On the morning of December 31, 1894, Mr. Sheehan discovered that his store had been broken into during the preceding night, and that goods to the value of about $200 had been stolen out of it. With the goods stolen from the store were several dozens of gold pens and penholders. Mr Banfield, as chief of police, was immediately called upon by Mr. Sheehan to investigate the burglary, and, in the search of the store, found a vest which apparently had been thrown off and left behind by the person who committed the crime. In a pocket of the vest were found a dozen gold pens. This vest had several marked peculiarities. The cloth portion was torn away from the lining on both sides, for a distance of six to eight inches from the bottom of the vest, and on one side the cloth and lining had been pinned together with a very long pin. On the other side, and near the lower inner corner of the cloth, there was attached a patent button, called a 'padlock' or 'hand-snap' button, which was fastened to the cloth by means of a thin piece of metal, slipped upon a small metallic rod, projecting from the back of the button, on the under side of the vest. This was the patent fastening. This button was similar to the buttons that plaintiff had been selling. When Mr. Banfield examined this vest, and saw the patent button attached to it in such an unusual place, he immediately recalled the fact that several weeks prior to this time, while walking upon one of the streets of Ann Arbor, in company with one Eugene K. Frueauff, he had observed some person offering buttons similar to this for sale, and that Mr. Frueauff and he had stood and watched this person for some time; that, while they were watching him, he had placed one of these buttons upon his own vest in precisely the same place where the button was attached to the vest found in Sheehan's store He testifies that he remembered also that the person's vest was torn in a manner similar to the vest just found, and that one side of his vest had been pinned together as was this one. Mr. Banfield did not at that time know who this peddler was, nor had he learned his name or anything about him prior to this 31st day of December; but he immediately instituted a search, and about 4 o'clock of that day saw and identified the plaintiff as the man whom he had observed offering these patent buttons for sale. Mr. Frueauff also remembered the incident of the plaintiff offering some kind of a patent button for sale, and such a one as was upon the vest found in Mr. Sheehan's store, and had a distinct recollection of seeing one of these patent buttons on the plaintiff's vest at that time, in the identical place where was the button on the vest that was found in Sheehan's store. After a careful examination of the plaintiff regarding the ownership of the vest, and after a close comparison of the cloth of the vest and of the trousers that plaintiff was wearing on the 31st day of December, the defendant Banfield went at once to the prosecuting attorney of the county, and disclosed to him all that he knew about the burglary, and all the circumstances tending to show the connection of the plaintiff with the offense, and he furthermore informed him of the plaintiff's denial of any complicity in the crime. He informed the attorney of his recollection regarding the vest, similar in many respects to the one that had...

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