People v. Hancock

Decision Date09 January 1950
Docket NumberNo. 65,65
Citation326 Mich. 471,40 N.W.2d 689
PartiesPEOPLE v. HANCOCK.
CourtMichigan Supreme Court

James E. Haggerty, Detroit, for appellant, Hugh V. Williams, Detroit, for counsel.

Stephen J. Roth, Attorney General, Edmund E. Shepherd, Solicitor General, Lansing, Daniel J. O'Hara, Assistant Attorney General, Richard B. Foster, Special Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, Lansing, for plaintiff-appellee.

Before the entire bench, except DETHMERS, BUTZEL and CARR, JJ.

SHARPE, Justice.

Defendant, John Hancock, and others were tried, convicted and sentenced under an information which charged them with a criminal conspiracy to corrupt the 1939 legislature of the State of Michigan by the act of bribery.

The information, under which defendant was tried and convicted, reads as follows:

'Victor C. Anderson, Prosecuting Attorney for the County of Ingham, for and in behalf of the People of the State of Michigan, comes into said Court in the March term thereof for the year 1944, and gives the court to understand and be informed:

'That heretofore, to-wit: on the 1st day of January, 1939, and on divers other days and times between that time and the 1st day of July, A.D. 1939, at the City of Lansing, and in the County of Ingham aforesaid, John Hancock, George Omacht, Mark S. Young, Samuel Hopkins, Abraham Cooper, Ernest G. Nagel, Earl C. Gallagher, William G. Buckley, Joseph J. Kowalski, Walter N. Stockfish, Martin A. Kronk, Stanley J. Dombrowski, Adam W. Sumeracki, Joseph L. Kaminski, Michael J. Clancy, Francis J. Nowak, Edward J. Walsh, Charles C.Diggs, D. Stephen Benzie, Henry F. Shea, William M. Bradley, Jerry T. Logie, and Leo J. Wilkowski, did unlawfully and wickedly agree, combine, conspire, confederate and engage to, with and among themselves, and to and with each other and to and with divers other persons to me unknown, wifully and corruptly to affect and influence the action of the legislature of the State of Michigan, the Senate, the House of Representatives, and divers members thereof, in the consideration of and action on certain proposed legislative measures then and there pending in and before said legislature, Senate and House of Representatives, towit:

'Senate Bill No. 85, entitled:

"A bill to provide the procedure for the foreclosure of chattel mortgages and to limit the right to deficiency judgments thereunder and to repeal all acts and parts of acts inconsistent with the provisions of this act.'

'Senate Bill No. 166, entitled:

"A bill to regulate retail and installment sales contracts covering motor vehicles; to prescribe penalties for the violation of the provisions of this act; and to repeal all acts and parts of acts inconsistent herewith,' and divers other measures and bills then and there pending in and before said legislature, the Senate and the House of Representatives, by then and there offering, tendering, promising, giving and receiving of bribes, money, and other things of value; and by promises to accept and receive such bribes, money, and other things of value; and by the actual giving and receiving of the same, they, the said Charles C. Diggs, D. Stephen Benzie, Henry F. Shea, William M. Bradley, Jerry T. Logie, ad Leo J. Wilkowski, being then and there duly elected, qualified and acting members of the Senate of the State of Michigan; and Ernest G. Nagel, Earl C. Gallagher, William G. Buckley, Joseph J. Kowalski, Walter N. Stockfish, Martin A. Kronk, Stanley J. Dombrowski, Adam W. Sumeracki, Joseph L. Kaminski, Michael J. Clancy, Francis J. Nowak, Edward J. Walsh, being then and there duly elected, qualified and acting members of the House of Representatives of the State of Michigan; and it being then and there the duty of said members of the said Senate and of the House of Representatives to refrain from the acceptance of the promises of bribes, bribes, money, or other things of value, made, offered, or given for the purpose or with the intent of influencing such members in the performance of their official duties and particularly in the consideration of and action on bills and proposed legislation pending before such legislature, Senate and House of Representatives, and they, the said John Hancock, George Omacht, Mark S. Young, Samuel Hopkins, and Abraham Cooper, being then and there interested in the proposed legislative measures aforesaid, and in other measures then and there pending before said legislature, Senate and House of Representatives, and it being then and there their duty to refrain from the making of promises, the offering, tendering or giving of bribes, money or other things of value whatsoever to the members of said Senate and House of Representatives, or to any one of such members for the purpose and with the intent of influencing said members of the Senate or the House of Representatives of the State of Michigan, or any of them, in the performance of the official duties of such members, and particularly in the consideration of and action on the proposed legislative measures aforesaid, or any bill or proposed legislation pending in and before said legislature, Senate and House of Representatives, nevertheless well knowing their respective duties aforesaid, said defendants did corruptly, dishonestly, fraudulently, and illegally engage and participate in said conspiracy and confederate as aforesaid, contrary to the form of the statute in such case made and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the People of the State of Michigan.'

The original warrant named 26 defendants. For the purpose of convenience they are referred to as six 'finance defendants' and 20 legislators. Of the six finance defendants, one Ernest J. Prew Pleaded guilty on arraignment. One of the legislator defendants, namely Miles M. Callaghan, also pleaded guilty, but at the time of the trial was too ill to testify and his testimony taken at the preliminary examination was read into the record. He is now deceased. One other legislator was granted a separate trial as he was then serving in the United States Navy. The trial proceeded with five finance men and 17 legislators as defendants. The jury acquitted two of the former group and convicted three finance defendants and all 17 legislators.

Prior to the trial of the cause and on June 2, 1944, defendant Hancock made a motion to quash the information and discharge defendant for the following reasons, among others:

'Because the information is vased upon an examination arising from an investigation conducted by a circuit judge of Ingham county under the purported authority of sections 17217-17218 of C.L.1929 (Stat.Ann. §§ 28.943, 28.944) which statutes are unconstitutional and void, being in contravention to the provisions of sections 1 and 2 of article 4, section 9 of article 7, and section 16 of article 2 of the Michigan Constitution; and section 1 of the 14th amendment to the Constitution of the United States;

'Because the information is based upon an examination not held pursuant to any formal complaint, but arising from an investigation by judge L. W. Carr who employed paid investigators and detectives and performed the duties and functions cast upon the prosecuting attorney and other officers of the executive department of the State of Michigan;

'Because the information does not comply with C.L.1929, § 17217 et seq.;

'Because the information charges no crime known to the common law;

'And because the information is fatally defective in that the allegations are indefinite and uncertain.'

On June 6, 1944, an answer was filed by the prosecuting attorney in which there was a denial of the allegations contained in the motion and on the same day an order was entered by the trial judge denying the motion to quash the information.

On June 12, 1944, an order was entered to empanel a jury of 14 and on the same day an order was entered denying the motion to discharge the entire panel of jurors and adjourn the cause.

On June 15, 1944, defendant Hancock and other defendants filed a challenge to the array and moved to quash the panel of jurors drawn April 18, 1944, and the panel drawn May 29, 1944, to serve at the May term of court, also the panel drawn on June 6 and 12 to serve at the June term of court for the following reasons:

'1. The panel drawn on April 18, 1944, to be summoned to attend on this court for the May, 1944, term thereof was and is void and of no effect for the reason that no order was at any time entered by this court authorizing and directing the calling of the forty (40) persons to be summoned to attend on this court at the May, 1944, term thereof, as required by section 13745, C.L.1929.

'2. Said panels are void and the persons named thereon are disqualified to act as jurors for the reasons that the County Clerk did not comply with the provisions of Section 13729, C.L.1929, and did not fold up the pieces of paper containing the names of the persons returned to serve as petit jurors pursuant to Section 13726, C.L.1929, so as to conceal the names thereon.

'3. The panel of jurors drawn on May 29, 1944, and the panel of jurors drawn on June 6, 1944, and also the panel of jurors drawn June 12, 1944, as aforesaid, are void and of no effect for the reason that the orders directing the drawing of such additional number of jurors on said respective panel were not made within the period required by Sections 13745 and 13746, C.L.1929, in that such orders were made less than 20 days previous to the time specified by law for the making thereof.

'4. The panel of jurors drawn on May 29, 1944, and the panel of jurors drawn on June 6, 1944, and also the panel of jurors drawn June 12, 1944, as aforesaid, are void and of no effect for the reason that they are not authorized by Sections 13745, 13746 or 13747, or either of them.'

On June 14, 1944, the trial court denied the challenge to the array and motion to quash the panel of jurors. The cause came on for trial and lasted approximately two months.

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