People v. Hall

CourtSupreme Court of Michigan
Writing for the CourtCAMPBELL
Citation48 Mich. 482,12 N.W. 665
Decision Date14 June 1882
PartiesPEOPLE v. HALL.

48 Mich. 482
12 N.W. 665

PEOPLE
v.
HALL.

Supreme Court of Michigan.

Filed June 14, 1882.


Where an information merely charges murder, without charging in what way it was committed or in what degree, and the jury were left at liberty to find the degree and did not find it to be murder of the first degree, and the sentence of the court treated it as murder of the first degree, it is error indicating that the trial lacked some of the elements of a calm judicial proceeding.

In cases of homicide the order of proof is essential, and this order requires the corpus delicti to be first shown.

The existence of malice of itself is no proof tending to show that death was caused by a criminal act of the accused, and only when there is legal evidence leading to the belief that homicide has been committed can the motive of the criminal become important and the relations of the parties become relevant.

Where the jury was ordered to be drawn from 11 specified townships, out of the 25 townships and the other supervisor districts constituting the county, some of the specified towns separated from the place of trial by intervening tiers of towns, and excluding the entire vicinage of the alleged offence, the order being made on the suggestion of the prosecution for this particular case, such order was not sanctioned by the statute and was illegal.

The allowance of names of witnesses to be added to the information during the trial, where witnesses are known, is a violation of a substantial right of the accused to have notice in season to anticipate their presence before trial.

Preventing witnesses from answering questions as to the conduct of the prosecution in seeking to induce them to suppress testimony or volunteer improper testimony is error.

Questions answered by medical experts upon theories put to them which were contrary to positive and uncontradicted facts were improper and misleading.

A refusal to instruct the jury that no inference can arise against the accused from the silence of a witness was error.

That a witness had been convicted of an infamous crime may be shown as a distinct fact bearing on his credit as a witness.

The reading of medical books to the jury as evidence is not permissible.

Error to Oakland.

[12 N.W. 665]

Howard & Thayer and Thos. J. Davis, for plaintiff in error.

J.J. Van Riper, for the people.


CAMPBELL, J.

Hall brings error from a judgment on conviction for the murder of his wife. The case was twice tried,—first in June, 1881, and afterwards

[12 N.W. 666]

in October, 1881,—the first jury having disagreed. We find in the outset a defect which does not seem to have been noticed by the parties, but which, under our advisory duty in criminal cases under the statute, we cannot very well overlook in passing upon the exceptions. The information, which conforms to the statute and is in the usual form, merely charges murder, without charging in what way it was committed or in what degree. Under the statute the jury must find the degree of the offence, and it cannot be treated as murder in the first degree unless expressly so found. Murder by poison, under the statute, is always murder in the first degree, and the jury should have been so charged. They were, however, by this charge left at liberty to find the degree, and did not find it to be the first degree. The sentence, however, expressly treated it as murder in the first degree, not only by so naming it, but also by inflicting the statutory punishment for that crime. If this error had been assigned, we might have been compelled to determine to what extent the proceedings could be opened or reversed.

As there are other defects which must lead to a new trial, we need not now go further in this discussion beyond the suggestion that this is only one of several indications that the trial lacked some of the elements of a calm judicial proceeding, and that matters appear to have been lost sight of which the rules governing the administration of justice required those conducting the prosecution to keep in mind. The first of these, and one which in several different ways was brought to the attention of the court below, but ruled against, was the rule which requires the corpus delicti to be shown, before any other testimony is directed against the prisoner. In many and perhaps in most cases the order of proof is not very essential. But in cases of homicide, and in others where justice demands it, the prosecution should not be allowed to proceed further until the death and its character shall have been shown, as far as the testimony can be separately given, and especially so far as can be shown from the post mortem examinations. Under our system of informations the prosecution must always have knowledge, in advance of the trial, concerning the case intended to be made out, and there can be no good reason for pursuing the course which was allowed to be taken here. Instead of showing in the outset the death of Mrs. Hall, the examinations of her remains and their several analyses, and the medical opinions, indicating or not indicating death by poison, the first testimony introduced was for the only and obvious purpose of creating a prejudice against the accused by raising suspicions—which this particular testimony was not legally sufficient to establish—that he had been at some former period intimate with another woman. The testimony did not tend to prove any lack of harmony or kindness between the prisoner and his wife before her death; but had it done so, it was improper to show it until the evidence that she had been poisoned and died from poison had been introduced. All the malice imaginable is no proof in itself tending to show that death was caused by crime. When there is legal evidence leading to the...

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31 practice notes
  • Jones v. Bloom, No. 11
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court
    • August 30, 1972
    ...a new trial? I. THE MICHIGAN RULE The first Michigan case dealing with this issue of reading textbooks to the jury was People v. Hall, 48 Mich. 482, 490--491, 12 Page 198 N.W. 665, 669 (1882). Defendant Hall had been tried and convicted of murder. On appeal, the Supreme Court reversed. The ......
  • People v. Harrison, Docket No. 11447
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Michigan (US)
    • February 20, 1973
    ...People v. Gilleylen, 31 Mich.App. 416, 188 N.W.2d 131 (1971); People v. Hocquard, 33 Mich.App. 325, 189 N.W.2d 750 (1971); People v. Hall, 48 Mich. 482, 12 N.W. 665 (1882); see also People v. Karamol, 173 Mich. 354, 139 N.W. 1 (1912). Ordinarily, late endorsement should be permitted and a c......
  • People v. McCrea, No. 51.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • November 24, 1942
    ...did not abuse its discretion in ordering such indorsement. The cases of People v. Howes, 81 Mich. 396, 45 N.W. 961, and People v. Hall, 48 Mich. 482, 12 N.W. 665,42 Am.Rep. 477, and other early cases cited by McCrea, arose and were decided under Act No. 138, § 2, Pub.Acts 1859, Comp.Laws 18......
  • Ruth v. Fenchel, No. A--459
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
    • October 11, 1955
    ...v. Kittridge, supra (12 Cush., at page 195); Gallagher v. Market Street R. Co., supra (67 Cal. at page 16, 6 P. 869); People v. Hall, 48 Mich. 482, 490, 12 N.W. 665 (Sup.Ct.1882). Wigmore (op. cit., § 1690, p. 3) points out that such changes attribute to the entire body of scientific knowle......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
33 cases
  • Jones v. Bloom, No. 11
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court
    • August 30, 1972
    ...a new trial? I. THE MICHIGAN RULE The first Michigan case dealing with this issue of reading textbooks to the jury was People v. Hall, 48 Mich. 482, 490--491, 12 Page 198 N.W. 665, 669 (1882). Defendant Hall had been tried and convicted of murder. On appeal, the Supreme Court reversed. The ......
  • People v. Harrison, Docket No. 11447
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Michigan (US)
    • February 20, 1973
    ...People v. Gilleylen, 31 Mich.App. 416, 188 N.W.2d 131 (1971); People v. Hocquard, 33 Mich.App. 325, 189 N.W.2d 750 (1971); People v. Hall, 48 Mich. 482, 12 N.W. 665 (1882); see also People v. Karamol, 173 Mich. 354, 139 N.W. 1 (1912). Ordinarily, late endorsement should be permitted and a c......
  • People v. McCrea, No. 51.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • November 24, 1942
    ...did not abuse its discretion in ordering such indorsement. The cases of People v. Howes, 81 Mich. 396, 45 N.W. 961, and People v. Hall, 48 Mich. 482, 12 N.W. 665,42 Am.Rep. 477, and other early cases cited by McCrea, arose and were decided under Act No. 138, § 2, Pub.Acts 1859, Comp.Laws 18......
  • Ruth v. Fenchel, No. A--459
    • United States
    • New Jersey Superior Court – Appellate Division
    • October 11, 1955
    ...v. Kittridge, supra (12 Cush., at page 195); Gallagher v. Market Street R. Co., supra (67 Cal. at page 16, 6 P. 869); People v. Hall, 48 Mich. 482, 490, 12 N.W. 665 (Sup.Ct.1882). Wigmore (op. cit., § 1690, p. 3) points out that such changes attribute to the entire body of scientific knowle......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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