Sasse v. State

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
Writing for the CourtORTON
PartiesSASSE v. STATE.
Decision Date22 March 1887

68 Wis. 530
32 N.W. 849

SASSE
v.
STATE.

Supreme Court of Wisconsin.

March 22, 1887.


Appeal from circuit court, Dodge county.

[32 N.W. 849]

George W. Sloan, for plaintiff in error.

C. E. Estabrook, Atty. Gen., for defendant in error.


ORTON, J.

The plaintiff in error was tried and convicted, in the circuit court of Dodge county, for the crime of murder in the first degree for the killing of William Martin, in said county, on the tenth day of July, 1885, and was sentenced to imprisonment in the state's prison during his natural life. We refrain from any further reference to the evidence in the case than to say that it appears to have been wholly circumstantial. At the first opening of the case to the jury by the district attorney, and before any testimony had been taken, he stated to the jury as follows: “The defendant committed a crime in the old country,--in Germany,--and he fled from justice. He engaged passage in one ship, and then in another. He landed in this country, and went to Philadelphia, committing a crime there. He admitted that he knocked a hole in a man's head in the old country, and by his admission fled and committed a crime in Philadelphia,--a crime on one of the citizens of this country.” To these remarks to the jury the defendant's counsel objected. The circuit court overruled the objection, with the remark as follows, viz.: “I suppose the previous history of the defendant may be given, but the fact that he committed one crime is no evidence that he committed this. The court permits the district attorney to proceed as far as to state the previous history of the defendant, with the suggestion, however, that because he committed one crime it is no evidence that he committed the crime of which he now stands charged.” To which ruling the defendant's counsel excepted. The district attorney then proceeded as follows: “He assumed another man's name. He obtained money under false pretenses, and told how he came to commit the crime before stated.” The district attorney afterwards repeated the remark that “the defendant knocked a hole in a man's head,” which was also excepted to. The learned judge before whom the case was tried instructed the jury, in reference to these remarks of the district attorney, as follows: “You will not regard any statement of counsel that the defendant committed a crime in Germany, or that he was a fugitive from justice, or that he came here under an assumed name, all of which things are not in the case.” On denying the motion for a new trial in the case, the learned judge remarked as follows: “The district attorney stated in his opening that the defendant had been guilty of some crime in Germany, etc. Whether that be such an error

[32 N.W. 850]

as will reverse the judgment I am not certain. That it was error permitting the district attorney to make the statement I haven't any doubt; but that it was cured I am of the impression. I am disposed to let the supreme court pass upon the question.”

The language of the learned judge in his instructions to the jury and in these last remarks is here quoted to his credit, as well illustrating his characteristic candor, frankness, fairness, and sense of justice. And it was thought proper that it should be reproduced, to accompany and explain his first ruling upon the remarks of the district attorney in opening the case to the jury. The facts stated by the district attorney would not have been competent or proper evidence if placed before the jury under the sanctions of an oath, and they were much more improper when pressed upon the attention of the jury by the authority of the prosecuting officer of the state, and produced a greater and more lasting effect. These remarks of the district attorney, so grossly improper, unprofessional, and unjust, and so repeated and asseverated to the jury, when their minds were entirely free from bias, prejudice, or partiality, when they had no knowledge or opinion of the defendant, or of the merits or demerits of his prosecution, and before they had heard any evidence, and when they were bound to presume him innocent, must have produced an ineffaceable and permanent impression. After hearing the recital of these crimes charged to have been committed by him, and that he was yet a fugitive from justice, their suspicions were aroused, and in their minds the probability of his guilt in the present case was already established, and they were ready and in fit mood to construe every fact and circumstance in the evidence that was afterwards produced, and...

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29 practice notes
  • Snyder v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, No. 241
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • January 8, 1934
    ...v. Auerbach, 176 Mich. 23, 141 N.W. 869, Ann.Cas. 1915B, 557; Carroll v. State, 5 Neb. 31; State v. Hilsinger, supra; Sasse v. State, 68 Wis. 530, 32 N.W. 849; Chance v. State, 156 Ga. 428, 119 S.E. 303; People v. Palmer, 43 Hun (N.Y.) 397. Massachusetts takes the position that waiver is un......
  • Robinson v. State, 609
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • January 10, 1910
    ...v. Fitzgerald, 137 Cal. 546; Shuler v. State, 105 Ind. 289; State v. Adams, 20 Kan. 311; Chute v. State, 19 Minn. 271; Sasse v. State, 68 Wis. 530; Benton v. State, 30 Ark. 328; State v. Bertin, 24 La. Ann. 46; State v. Henny, 51 W.Va. 283.) However, the order for the view and inspection wa......
  • State v. Slorah
    • United States
    • Supreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)
    • June 5, 1919
    ...usually cited as sustaining the contrary view are People v. Bush, 68 Cal. 623, 10 Pac. 169, Benton v. State, 30 Ark. 328, State v. Sasse, 68 Wis. 530, 32 N. W. 849, State v. Bertin, 24 La. Ann. 46, Foster v. State, 70 Miss. 755, 12 South. 822, and Carroll v. State, 5 Neb. 31; but even in Ca......
  • State v. Mortensen, 1457
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Utah
    • August 12, 1903
    ...503; People v. Johnson, 110 N.Y. 134, 17 N.E. 684; State v. Ah Lee, 8 Ore. 214; Chute v. State, 19 Minn. 271 (Gil. 230); Sasse v. State, 68 Wis. 530, 32 N.W. 849; State v. Hartley, 22 Nev. 342, 40 P. 372, 28 L.R.A. 33; State v. Buzzell, 59 N.H. 65; Com. v. Salyards, 158 Pa. 501, 27 A. 993; ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
29 cases
  • Snyder v. Commonwealth of Massachusetts, No. 241
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • January 8, 1934
    ...v. Auerbach, 176 Mich. 23, 141 N.W. 869, Ann.Cas. 1915B, 557; Carroll v. State, 5 Neb. 31; State v. Hilsinger, supra; Sasse v. State, 68 Wis. 530, 32 N.W. 849; Chance v. State, 156 Ga. 428, 119 S.E. 303; People v. Palmer, 43 Hun (N.Y.) 397. Massachusetts takes the position that waiver is un......
  • Robinson v. State, 609
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wyoming
    • January 10, 1910
    ...v. Fitzgerald, 137 Cal. 546; Shuler v. State, 105 Ind. 289; State v. Adams, 20 Kan. 311; Chute v. State, 19 Minn. 271; Sasse v. State, 68 Wis. 530; Benton v. State, 30 Ark. 328; State v. Bertin, 24 La. Ann. 46; State v. Henny, 51 W.Va. 283.) However, the order for the view and inspection wa......
  • State v. Slorah
    • United States
    • Supreme Judicial Court of Maine (US)
    • June 5, 1919
    ...usually cited as sustaining the contrary view are People v. Bush, 68 Cal. 623, 10 Pac. 169, Benton v. State, 30 Ark. 328, State v. Sasse, 68 Wis. 530, 32 N. W. 849, State v. Bertin, 24 La. Ann. 46, Foster v. State, 70 Miss. 755, 12 South. 822, and Carroll v. State, 5 Neb. 31; but even in Ca......
  • State v. Mortensen, 1457
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Utah
    • August 12, 1903
    ...503; People v. Johnson, 110 N.Y. 134, 17 N.E. 684; State v. Ah Lee, 8 Ore. 214; Chute v. State, 19 Minn. 271 (Gil. 230); Sasse v. State, 68 Wis. 530, 32 N.W. 849; State v. Hartley, 22 Nev. 342, 40 P. 372, 28 L.R.A. 33; State v. Buzzell, 59 N.H. 65; Com. v. Salyards, 158 Pa. 501, 27 A. 993; ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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