People v. Miller

CourtNew York Court of Appeals
Writing for the CourtCARDOZO
Citation257 N.Y. 54,177 N.E. 306
Decision Date15 July 1931
PartiesPEOPLE v. MILLER.

257 N.Y. 54
177 N.E. 306

PEOPLE
v.
MILLER.

Court of Appeals of New York.

July 15, 1931.


Leroy J. Miller was convicted of murder in the first degree, and he appeals.

Affirmed.


[257 N.Y. 55]Appeal from Onondaga County Court.

[177 N.E. 307]


R. J. Shanahan, of Syracuse, for appellant.

257 N.Y. 56]Clarence Unckless, Dist. Atty., of Syracuse (William C. Martin, and De Banks M. Henward, both of Syracuse, of counsel), for respondent.
CARDOZO, C. J.

The evidence amply sustains the verdict that the defendant shot and killed Gladys Blaich with a deliberate and premeditated design to cause her death.

An opinion would not be necessary if it were not for erroneous rulings of the trial judge which in this case were harmless, but which if repeated in other cases, where guilt is not so clearly proved, might cause justice to be thwarted.

(1) The defendant's mother, Mary Miller, gave testimony as to the defendant's life history and his relations to the murdered woman. On cross-examination, she was questioned by the district attorney as to her statements on the same subject when examined by the grand jury. At the stage of redirect examination, counsel for the [257 N.Y. 57]defendant made demand upon the district attorney that he be permitted to inspect the copy of the minutes of the grand jury from which the district attorney had been examining, in so far as they included the testimony of the witness then upon the stand. The demand was refused, and, upon the protest of counsel, the court upheld the refusal.

We think the minutes to the extent demanded should have been offered for inspection. The people invoke the rule whereby the secrecy of the proceedings before the grand jury must be preserved inviolate. Code Cr. Proc. § 265. It is a rule not without exceptions, some of them declared by statute (Code Cr. Proc. § 266), others implied by courts when essential to the ends of justice. People ex rel. Hirschberg v. Board of Supervisors of Orange County, 251 N. Y. 156, 170, 171, 167 N. E. 204;Attorney-General v. Pelletier, 240 Mass. 264, 134 N. E. 407;State v. Campbell, 73 Kan. 688, 85 P. 784,9 L. R. A. (N. S.) 533,9 Ann. Cas. 1203; 4 Wigmore on Evidence, §§ 2360-2363. The district attorney might have refrained, if he had pleased, from asking the witness anything about her previous testimony. He was not at liberty, after exhibiting so much of it as was helpful to the people, to deprive the defendant of the privilege of exhibiting the residue.

The error, for such it was, was not so substantial in its bearing on the fate of the defendant as to call for a reversal of the judgment of conviction. Code Cr. Proc. § 542. What was said by Mrs. Miller before the grand jury, though left unqualified by anything else that she may have said at the same time, was too trivial in its significance, too fully in accord with the testimony on her direct examination by counsel for the defendant, to have counted as a material factor in the choice of innocence or guilt. There is no reasonable possibility that the qualifying statements, if any such there were, could have changed the verdict of the jury, if the defendant had been allowed to prove them.

What is true of the testimony of the witness Mary [257 N.Y. 58]Miller, is true, and for like reasons, of the testimony of other witnesses, Shapiro and Keville. Their testimony before the grand jury, as brought out by counsel for the people, was not at variance, in any substantial measure, with their testimony at the trial, as brought out by the defense. There is no suggestion in the record that the complete minutes, if produced, would have shown any testimony qualifying or retracting what had been quoted by the people. Even if they would, there is no reasonable possibility that a different verdict would have followed.

(2) The defendant complains also of the refusal of the court to allow him to inspect letters marked for identification. Manning, a state trooper, testified for the people that he had visited the home of Gladys Blaich, and in her room had found letters, from which he had gathered ten that appeared to be in the same handwriting. These letters were marked for identification. They were never offered in evidence. There is nothing to show who wrote them. They were produced as a batch of papers found in a stated place, and there the matter rested.

The defendant did not attempt to cross-examine about the contents of these writings while...

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57 practice notes
  • People v. Colon
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • March 22, 1988
    ...v. Glover, 60 N.Y.2d 783, 469 N.Y.S.2d 677, 457 N.E.2d 783; People v. Jelke, 308 N.Y. 56, 63, 123 N.E.2d 769, supra; People v. Miller, 257 N.Y. 54, 60, 177 N.E. 306). Locking the doors during the charge to avoid disruption--allowing those already present to remain--does not seek to exclude ......
  • State v. Lawrence, No. 52826
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • May 6, 1969
    ...health or sanitary conditions, see People v. Jelke, supra, 308 N.Y. 56, 63, 123 N.E.2d 769, 772, and citations, and People v. Miller, 257 N.Y. 54, 60, 177 N.E. 306, 308. See also Wendling v. Commonwealth, 143 Ky. 587, 601, 137 S.W. 205, 211; State v. Saale, 308 Mo. 573, 579--581, 274 S.W. 3......
  • United States v. Kobli, No. 9547.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • February 3, 1949
    ...1164; State v. Saale, 1925, 308 Mo. 573, 274 S.W. 393; People v. Greeson, 1925, 230 Mich. 124, 203 N.W. 141; People v. Miller, 1931, 257 N.Y. 54, 177 N.E. 306; Tate v. Commonwealth, 1935, 258 Ky. 685, 80 S.W.2d 817; In re Oliver, 1948, 333 U.S. 257, 271-272, 68 S.Ct. 499. 11 United States v......
  • United States v. Rose, No. 12217.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Pennsylvania
    • July 10, 1953
    ...where the court itself does so. See United States v. Socony-Vacuum Oil Co., supra, 310 U.S. 150, 60 S.Ct. 811, and People v. Miller, 1931, 257 N.Y. 54, 177 N.E. 306, Cardozo J. in United States v. Cotter, 2 Cir., 1932, 60 F.2d 689 at page 692, where the prosecuting attorney used the transcr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
57 cases
  • People v. Colon
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • March 22, 1988
    ...v. Glover, 60 N.Y.2d 783, 469 N.Y.S.2d 677, 457 N.E.2d 783; People v. Jelke, 308 N.Y. 56, 63, 123 N.E.2d 769, supra; People v. Miller, 257 N.Y. 54, 60, 177 N.E. 306). Locking the doors during the charge to avoid disruption--allowing those already present to remain--does not seek to exclude ......
  • State v. Lawrence, No. 52826
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • May 6, 1969
    ...health or sanitary conditions, see People v. Jelke, supra, 308 N.Y. 56, 63, 123 N.E.2d 769, 772, and citations, and People v. Miller, 257 N.Y. 54, 60, 177 N.E. 306, 308. See also Wendling v. Commonwealth, 143 Ky. 587, 601, 137 S.W. 205, 211; State v. Saale, 308 Mo. 573, 579--581, 274 S.W. 3......
  • United States v. Kobli, No. 9547.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • February 3, 1949
    ...1164; State v. Saale, 1925, 308 Mo. 573, 274 S.W. 393; People v. Greeson, 1925, 230 Mich. 124, 203 N.W. 141; People v. Miller, 1931, 257 N.Y. 54, 177 N.E. 306; Tate v. Commonwealth, 1935, 258 Ky. 685, 80 S.W.2d 817; In re Oliver, 1948, 333 U.S. 257, 271-272, 68 S.Ct. 499. 11 United States v......
  • United States v. Rose, No. 12217.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Pennsylvania
    • July 10, 1953
    ...where the court itself does so. See United States v. Socony-Vacuum Oil Co., supra, 310 U.S. 150, 60 S.Ct. 811, and People v. Miller, 1931, 257 N.Y. 54, 177 N.E. 306, Cardozo J. in United States v. Cotter, 2 Cir., 1932, 60 F.2d 689 at page 692, where the prosecuting attorney used the transcr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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