Scott v. State

Citation211 Ala. 270,100 So. 211
Decision Date10 April 1924
Docket Number6 Div. 903.
PartiesSCOTT v. STATE.
CourtSupreme Court of Alabama

Rehearing Denied May 15, 1924.

Appeal from Circuit Court, Jefferson County; William E. Fort, Judge.

Sam Scott was convicted of murder in the second degree, and appeals. Affirmed.

Kenneth C. Charlton, of Birmingham, for appellant.

Harwell G. Davis, Atty. Gen., and O. B. Cornelius, Asst. Atty. Gen for the State.


An indictment for murder may identify the deceased by different names in separate counts, without an allegation that the name is otherwise unknown. Such indictment is not subject to demurrer for misjoinder. Ex parte State, 197 Ala. 419, 73 So 35; Lowe v. State, 134 Ala. 154, 32 So. 273; Wooster v. State, 55 Ala. 217.

The order setting day for trial and for the special venire was made on September 23d. The trial was set for October 2d. Motions to quash the venire and for a continuance of the cause made the point that the order was not made on the first day of the term of the court, nor as soon thereafter as practicable. The statute says:

"Whenever any person or persons stand indicted for a capital felony, the court must on the first day of the term or as soon as practicable thereafter make an order commanding the sheriff to summon," etc. Acts 1919, pp. 1039, 1041.

This act is amendatory of section 32, Acts 1909, p. 319, which contained the above-quoted provision. The original act provided that the venire for the trial of the cause should include the jurors "drawn and summoned" for the week of the court the trial was set. The same statute provided for drawing of the regular jury only for the first week of the court prior to the beginning of the term of court. Acts 1909, § 15, p. 310.

In Harris v. State, 172 Ala. 413, 55 So. 609, we pointed out the impracticability of complying with these provisions of the statute when capital cases are set for a later week of the term.

The act of 1919, supra, struck out the word "summoned," thus making the regular jurors "drawn" for the week of the trial a part of the venire for the capital case. The effect was to make practicable the drawing of the regular jury and the special venire on the same day. The other provisions of the original statute remain, and the amended statute must be construed in connection therewith.

Section 29, Acts of 1909, p. 317, reads:

"It is hereby expressly declared to be the intent of the Legislature in the enactment of this law, to make the provisions hereof in the relation to the selection, drawing, summoning or impaneling of jurors directory merely and not mandatory. The jurors selected, drawn, summoned and impaneled under the provisions of this act, whether at an earlier or later day than required by this act, must and shall in all respects be deemed legal, and to possess in full, in every respect, power to perform all of the duties belonging to grand and petit jurors. And no objection can be taken to any venire of jurors except for fraud in drawing or summoning the jurors."

The requirement that jurors in capital cases be drawn the first day of the term evinces a legislative purpose for a prompt trial of these grave offenses. Behind it is the thought that swift and sure punishment makes the law a greater terror to evildoers, and that the law's delay encourages crime. The accused has also the constitutional right to a "speedy, public trial, by an impartial jury of the county or district in which the offense was committed." Const. 1901, § 6.

The right of the state or the defendant to move the court to set down the cause and draw the jury at the earliest practical date, and the remedy for abuse of discretion in failing so to do, are not questions now before us. It is safe to say the statute does not contemplate that such delay shall be ground for quashing a venire or continuing the cause, thus entailing further delay which the statute aims to avoid.

"As soon as practicable thereafter" must, in the nature of things, be determined by the trial judge, as a matter of judicial discretion. It appears in the case at bar that the presiding judge of the tenth circuit had ordered no capital causes set for trial prior to October 2d, because of a vast number of appealed cases and jail cases. Conditions may be such that the judges, seeking to administer the law in the most effective way, find it best to deal with conditions which may lead to the commission of the graver crimes.

Like motions were made on the ground that a list of the jurors and a copy of the indictment were not served on the defendant "forthwith," as required by the statute. Acts 1919, p. 1041. The list of jurors and copy of indictment were served four days after they were drawn and five days before the day set for trial. The court "must cause" the list of jurors and copy of indictment to be "forthwith served." It does not appear that any motion was made or the court's attention otherwise called to the delay until presented by motions to continue and to quash the venire. This was no ground to quash the venire. The court did not abuse his discretion in refusing a postponement or continuance. Harris v. State, 203 Ala. 200, 82 So. 450; Savage v. State, 174 Ala. 94, 57 So. 469; Cain v. State, 16 Ala. App. 303, 77 So. 453.

State witness Cunningham, a deputy sheriff, testified to a conversation with defendant in jail. As a predicate, the witness said:

"I did not offer him any violence or hope of reward, and did not tell him it would be better for him if he made a statement or worse if he did not make a statement, and no one in my presence or hearing did any of these things." That nobody threatened him or offered him violence or abuse in any way.

He then testified:

"I asked him why he shot Mary, and he said he didn't know unless it was the devil in him."

The court did not err in admitting this evidence as a voluntary confession. McQueen v. State, 94 Ala. 50, 10 So. 433; White v. State, 133 Ala. 122, 32 So. 139; Hamilton v. State, 147 Ala. 110, 41 So. 940; Burton v. State, 107 Ala. 108, 18 So. 284; Crain v. State, 166 Ala. 1, 52 So. 31.

When a confession is admitted in evidence by the court, it is not within the province of the jury to inquire into its competency. Their only duty is to determine its credibility and effect. They cannot reject it as inadmissible. Charge 22, requested for defendant, was therefore properly refused. Washington v. State, 53 Ala. 29; Curry v. State, 203 Ala. 239, 82 So. 489; 4 Michie's Dig. p. 326, § 490 (2); 16 C.J. 1003, § 2421.

The good character of defendant cannot be proven by specific acts of merit, nor by evidence that he has never been...

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24 cases
  • Thomas v. State, 6 Div. 177
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • 14 Junio 1951 the case warranted the defendant's conviction, was within the discretion of the jury. Miller v. State, 54 Ala. 155; Scott v. State, 211 Ala. 270, 272-273, 100 So. The judgment entry recites: 'This day comes J. Monroe Ward, as Solicitor who prosecutes for the State, and comes also the def......
  • Jarrell v. State, 5 Div. 272
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Appeals
    • 24 Mayo 1949
    ...Sec. 273, Code 1940; Gettings v. State, 32 Ala.App. 644, 29 So.2d 677. Page 772 Instruction number 8 was properly refused. Scott v. State, 211 Ala. 270, 100 So. 211; Fowler v. State, 155 Ala. 21, 45 So. 913; Bailey v. State, 133 Ala. 155, 32 So. 57; Goodman v. State, 15 Ala.App. 161, 72 So.......
  • Fincher v. State, 7 Div. 428.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • 29 Mayo 1924
    ...the jury that such confession may be disregarded if it is not believed to have been voluntarily made. Scott v. State (Ala. Sup.) 100 So. 211; Smith v. State, 137 Ala. 22, 34 So. 396; Huffman v. State, 130 Ala. 89, 30 So. 394; Stone v. State, 105 Ala. 60, 17 So. 114; Brown v. State, 124 Ala.......
  • Jarrell v. State, 5 Div. 272.
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Appeals
    • 24 Mayo 1949
    ...Code 1940; Gettings v. State, 32 Ala.App. 644, 29 So.2d 677. [50 So.2d 772] Instruction number 8 was properly refused. Scott v. State, 211 Ala. 270, 100 So. 211; Fowler v. State, 155 Ala. 21, 45 So. 913; Bailey v. State, 133 Ala. 155, 32 So. 57; Goodman v. State, 15 Ala.App. 161, 72 So. 687......
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