People v. Coughlin

CourtSupreme Court of Michigan
Writing for the CourtCHAMPLIN
Citation65 Mich. 704,32 N.W. 905
Decision Date28 April 1887
PartiesPEOPLE v. COUGHLIN.

65 Mich. 704
32 N.W. 905

PEOPLE
v.
COUGHLIN.

Supreme Court of Michigan.

April 28, 1887.


Error to circuit court, Chippewa county.

[32 N.W. 905]

The Attorney General, for plaintiff.

Brennan & Donnelly, for defendant and appellant.


CHAMPLIN, J.

Respondent was convicted of manslaughter, and sentenced to be confined in the state prison at Jackson at hard labor for the period of 13 years. The circuit judge charged the jury that, in cases where the respondent seeks to justify his acts of killing as done in self-defense, the burden of proof is upon himself to establish the killing to have been done in self-defense. This was error. In civil cases the burden of proof is generally upon the party who affirms the existence of facts necessary to make out his case. In criminal cases, however, the burden of proof is upon the prosecutor to show that the accused is guilty of the offense charged. The charge made against respondent in this case could not be made out unless the testimony should exclude the idea of self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt. Consequently it was incumbent upon the people to show such facts and circumstances as convinced the jury that the killing was not done in self-defense.

It also appears that the sheriff entered the complaint upon which the respondent was arrested, and also was a witness in the case in behalf of the people. He was also the officer who had the jury in charge during their deliberations, and this is alleged as error. We can see no impropriety in these facts. The sheriff is a public officer and conservator of the peace, and it does not appear that he acted in the character of a private prosecutor.

The judgment must be reversed, and the prisoner remanded to the custody of the sheriff of Chippewa county.

(The other justices concurred.)

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8 practice notes
  • Berrier v. Egeler, No. 77-1100
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • November 6, 1978
    ...of proof. 1 This has been true for many years. One of the clearest statements is found in the leading Michigan case of People v. Coughlin, 65 Mich. 704, 32 N.W. 905 (1887), where the Supreme Court of Michigan CHAMPLIN, J. Respondent was convicted of manslaughter, and sentenced to be confine......
  • State v. Webb
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • January 20, 1899
    ...775, 15 A. 219; Rudy v. Commonwealth, 128 Pa. St. 500, 18 A. 344; Commonwealth v. McKie, 1 Gray, 61, 61 Am. Dec. 410; People v. Coughlin, 65 Mich. 704, 32 N.W. 905; Lilienthal v. United States, 97 U.S. 237; Howard v. State, 50 Ind. 190; 1 Bishop's Criminal Procedure, secs. 1048, 1051, 1066;......
  • Thompson v. Morrison, Case No. 1:19-cv-937
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District Michigan)
    • February 17, 2021
    ...of murder. Id. at 521. However, the primary precedent Berrier cites is from 1887 and arose in a manslaughter case, People v. Coughlin, 32 N.W. 905 (Mich. 1887). Only two cases Berrier cites relate to murder (rather than manslaughter), and one held that under Michigan state law, "once the is......
  • People Of The State Of Mich. v. Dupree, Docket No. 139396.
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court
    • July 23, 2010
    ...the parties stipulated that defendant had been convicted of a “specified felony” under MCL 750.224f(2). 13See, e.g., People v. Coughlin, 65 Mich. 704, 32 N.W. 905 (1887). 14Garwols v. Bankers Trust Co., 251 Mich. 420, 424, 232 N.W. 239 (1930); see also Const. 1963, art. 3, § 7 (“The common ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • Berrier v. Egeler, No. 77-1100
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • November 6, 1978
    ...of proof. 1 This has been true for many years. One of the clearest statements is found in the leading Michigan case of People v. Coughlin, 65 Mich. 704, 32 N.W. 905 (1887), where the Supreme Court of Michigan CHAMPLIN, J. Respondent was convicted of manslaughter, and sentenced to be confine......
  • State v. Webb
    • United States
    • Idaho Supreme Court
    • January 20, 1899
    ...775, 15 A. 219; Rudy v. Commonwealth, 128 Pa. St. 500, 18 A. 344; Commonwealth v. McKie, 1 Gray, 61, 61 Am. Dec. 410; People v. Coughlin, 65 Mich. 704, 32 N.W. 905; Lilienthal v. United States, 97 U.S. 237; Howard v. State, 50 Ind. 190; 1 Bishop's Criminal Procedure, secs. 1048, 1051, 1066;......
  • Thompson v. Morrison, Case No. 1:19-cv-937
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 6th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District Michigan)
    • February 17, 2021
    ...of murder. Id. at 521. However, the primary precedent Berrier cites is from 1887 and arose in a manslaughter case, People v. Coughlin, 32 N.W. 905 (Mich. 1887). Only two cases Berrier cites relate to murder (rather than manslaughter), and one held that under Michigan state law, "once the is......
  • People Of The State Of Mich. v. Dupree, Docket No. 139396.
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court
    • July 23, 2010
    ...the parties stipulated that defendant had been convicted of a “specified felony” under MCL 750.224f(2). 13See, e.g., People v. Coughlin, 65 Mich. 704, 32 N.W. 905 (1887). 14Garwols v. Bankers Trust Co., 251 Mich. 420, 424, 232 N.W. 239 (1930); see also Const. 1963, art. 3, § 7 (“The common ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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