Peterson v. Oceana Circuit Judge, Motion No. 88.

CourtSupreme Court of Michigan
Writing for the CourtFEAD
Citation219 N.W. 934,243 Mich. 215
Docket NumberMotion No. 88.
Decision Date22 June 1928

243 Mich. 215
219 N.W. 934


Motion No. 88.

Supreme Court of Michigan.

June 22, 1928.

Petition for mandamus by Angus Peterson against Joseph Barton, Oceana Circuit Judge. Writ denied.

Argued before the Entire Bench, except POTTER, J.

[219 N.W. 934]

Wm. J. Branstrom, of Fremont, and Earl C. Pugsley, of Hart, for petitioner.

William W. Potter, Atty. Gen., Henry J. Horrigan, Asst. Atty. Gen., and Frank Bagley, Pros. Atty., and F. E. Wetmore, both of Hart, for respondent.


On September 7, 1927, the plaintiff was bound over for trial in the circuit court for Oceana county upon a charge that, on March 22, 1927, he had set fire to and burned a house belonging to himself, with intent to injure an insurance company which had a fire policy then in force upon the building. At the examination before the magistrate, over objections by his counsel, evidence of both verbal and written confessions of plaintiff that he had set the fire was introduced. Plaintiff made a motion to the circuit court of Oceana county to dismiss the complaint, warrant, and all proceedings had in the cause, and to discharge the plaintiff on the ground that the corpus delicti had not been established at the examination by proper evidence. The motion having been denied, a writ of mandamus is here sought to require the circuit judge to grant the motion to discharge the plaintiff.

The question is whether there was sufficient evidence before the magistrate to establish the corpus delicti, aliunds the confessions of plaintiff. Counsel for plaintiff cite as controlling People v. Kirby, 223 Mich. 440, 194 N. W. 142, and People v. Lee, 231 Mich. 607, 204 N. W. 742.

In cases of arson, proof of the corpus delicti requires the showing, not only that the building was burned, but that the fire was intentionally or willfully set. This proof may be made by circumstantial evidence, and the

[219 N.W. 935]

cited authorities forbid neither the drawing of reasonable inferences nor the weighing of probabilities.

Excluding the confessions of plaintiff, the evidence taken on the examination was brief. The building burned was a farm house. The policy of fire insurance, covering the house, furniture, implements, and a barn, was written in September, 1925. The barn burned in December, 1925, and, on the same day, plaintiff moved to another farm in the neighborhood. A tenant occupied the house until December, 1926. The building was vacant thereafter, but some of plaintiff's...

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30 cases
  • People v. Wise, Docket No. 69725
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Michigan (US)
    • 12 d4 Julho d4 1984
    ...164 Mich. 1, 129 N.W. 3 (1910). Courts may draw reasonable inferences and weigh the probabilities. Peterson v. Oceana Circuit Judge, 243 Mich. 215, 219 N.W. 934 (1928). The evidence must show that the acts constituting the essential elements have been committed and that someone's criminalit......
  • People v. Allen, Docket No. 10157
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Michigan (US)
    • 27 d1 Março d1 1972
    ...People v. Preston, 299 Mich. 484, 493, 300 N.W. 853 (1941) (malicious poisoning of cattle); Peterson v. Oceana Circuit Judge, 243 Mich. 215, 217, 219 N.W. 934 (1928) (arson). 8 Page 882 In People v. Kelsch, 16 Mich.App. 244, 245, 167 N.W.2d 777 (1969), we said: '(T)he Corpus delicti of a cr......
  • People v. Wolfe, Docket No. 90730
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • 31 d1 Agosto d1 1992
    ...and reasonable inferences arising from that evidence, just as it can be established by direct evidence. Peterson v. Oceana Circuit Judge, 243 Mich. 215, 217, 219 N.W. 934 (1928); People v. Maliskey, 77 Mich.App. 444, 453, 258 N.W.2d 512 (1977). See also Montes-Cardenas, supra, 746 F.2d at 7......
  • People v. Williams, Docket No. 72519
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Michigan
    • 4 d3 Setembro d3 1985
    ...v Preston, 299 Mich 484, 493 [300 N.W. 853] (1941) (malicious poisoning of cattle); Peterson v Oceana Circuit Judge, 243 Mich 215, 217 [219 N.W. 934] (1928) * * * * * * "Nevertheless, the hornbook view is, indeed, that the corpus delicti of 'felonious homicide' consists of evidence of a dea......
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