Smith v. State

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Citation95 So.2d 525
PartiesGeraldine SMITH, Appellant, v. The STATE of Florida, Appellee.
Decision Date29 May 1957

Page 525

95 So.2d 525
Geraldine SMITH, Appellant,
The STATE of Florida, Appellee.
Supreme Court of Florida, Special Division A.
May 29, 1957.

Carr & O'Quin and Marshall G. Curran, Jr., Miami, for appellant.

Page 526

Richard W. Ervin, Atty. Gen., and George R. Georgieff, Asst. Atty. Gen., for appellee.

WELCH, Associate Justice.

The defendant, Geraldine Smith, was indicted by a grand jury in Dade County for the crime of murder in the first degree and was convicted by a jury of the crime of manslaughter; was adjudged guilty and sentenced by the court of Dade County to the State prison for a term of fifteen years. From this judgment and sentence she has taken her appeal to this Court, and poses two questions, as follows:

Question No. One.

'Did the Trial Court err in refusing to allow Counsel for defendant to examine the typewritten manuscript with which the State Attorney attempted to impeach the witness, Richard Boyce?'

Question No. Two.

'Was it error for the Court to send a dictionary to the jury without first informing Counsel for the defendant in open Court?'

Taking up the first question first, we glean from the record that the statement in question was a transcript of the testimony of the witness, Richard Boyce, taken by and before the State Attorney in his office sometime prior to the trial. It appears that this witness, Richard Boyce, had been summoned by the State, but was called and put upon the stand by the defendant, and during the course of the trial this witness was asked on cross-examination with regard to whether he had made certain statements on a previous examination before the State Attorney; the statements allegedly made by the witness related to what he, Richard Boyce, had told the State Attorney concerning the defendant's account of how the homicide occurred. During the course of this cross-examination with regard to the previous statements of the witness the State Attorney referred to certain documents he had in his file, evidently for the purpose of impeaching the witness; defense counsel moved the Court to require the State Attorney to allow an examination of that written document by which the State Attorney was attempting to impeach the defense witness. The motion was denied by the Trial Court; and this action of the Trial Court in denying this motion is the basis for appellant's question number one.

This Court, speaking through Mr. Justice Mabry, in the case of Simmons v. State, reported in 32 Fla. 387, 13 So. 896, 897, said:

'Where a witness does not distinctly admit on cross-examination that he has made a former statement inconsistent with his present evidence, our statute permits such statement to be put in evidence upon proof of the circumstances of the supposed inconsistent statement sufficient to designate the particular occasion, and the witness being asked whether or not he made such statement. Rev.St. Sec. 1102. The general rule that a witness cannot be impeached by proof of inconsistent statement without first laying the proper foundation for the introduction of such evidence, applies to written statements or written testimony of witnesses taken down before a committing magistrate. Such testimony cannot, for the purpose of impeachment, be read to the jury, unless it be produced and shown to the witness, and his attention called to the contradictory statements, in order that he may explain them if he can. Where the testimony of a witness before a committing magistrate has been reduced to writing and signed by him he cannot, of course, be cross-examined as to...

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41 cases
  • Jones v. Kemp, 1:88-cv-328-CAM.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
    • February 16, 1989
    ...See, e.g., Palestroni, (reversal due to jury's use of dictionary); Alvarez v. People, 653 P.2d 1127 (Colo.1982) (same); Smith v. State, 95 So.2d 525 (Fla.1957) (same). Justice, then Judge, Brennan expressed the logic of the prohibition against dictionaries as The use by a jury of a dictiona......
  • Gonzalez v. State, SC11–475.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • April 10, 2014 that have not been admitted into evidence if the materials are of such character as to influence the jury. See Smith v. State, 95 So.2d 525, 528 (Fla.1957) (holding that it was reversible error to permit the jury to use a dictionary while deliberating its verdict); Johnson v. State, 27......
  • State v. Devoney, 95-904
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • May 3, 1996
    ...1320, 1322 (Fla. 2d DCA 1981) (allegation foreperson signed wrong verdict form). 4 See cases cited in note 3, supra. 1 See Smith v. State, 95 So.2d 525 (Fla.1957) (presence of a dictionary in a jury room required reversal of the verdict); State v. Migliaro, 28 Conn.App. 388, 611 A.2d 422 (1......
  • Fotopoulos v. State, No. SC00-1511
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • December 19, 2002
    ...duty of assisting the Court to see that justice is done," and it is not his or her duty "merely to secure convictions." Smith v. State, 95 So.2d 525, 527 (Fla. 1957); see also Berger v. United States, 295 U.S. 78, 88, 55 S.Ct. 629, 79 L.Ed. 1314 (1935). Thus, a state attorney is no mere lit......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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