Sparks v. State, 27676.

Decision Date08 June 1942
Docket NumberNo. 27676.,27676.
Citation220 Ind. 343,42 N.E.2d 40
CourtIndiana Supreme Court


Adrian Sparks was convicted of procuring another to burn an automobile with intent to defraud an insurance company, and he appeals.

Affirmed.Appeal from Montgomery Circuit Court; Edgar A. Rice, Judge.

Frank A. Symmes, Charles W. Symmes, Wray E. Fleming, and O. S. Boling, all of Indianapolis, for appellant.

George N. Beamer, Atty. Gen., James K. Northam, 1st Asst. Atty. Gen., Robert E. Agnew, Deputy Atty. Gen., and Ralph M. Bunnell, Pros. Atty., of Crawfordsville, for appellee.


Appellant was charged by affidavit filed August 21, 1940, with having procured another to burn an automobile with the intent to defraud an insurance company by whose policy the car was insured against fire. Before the trial appellee's motion for an order on appellant to produce the policy for inspection and use in evidence at the trial was sustained and appellant excepted.

At the trial the court admitted without objection appellee's written proof of loss executed May 1, 1940, which contained the policy number, date of expiration, coverage, and other usual details in such proofs. The opening words thereof read: ‘To the Home Ins. Co. of New York By your Policy of Insurance above described you insured Adrian Sparks (Herein after called Insured) * * * on Automobile described as follows:’ Then follows complete description of automobile, date of fire and appellant's version of its cause. The proof also contains this sentence: ‘Insured hereby claims of this Company and will accept from this Company in full release and satisfaction in compromise settlement of all claims under this policy the sum of $312.00.’ The proof was signed and sworn to by appellant.

Later the insurance policy was introduced in evidence over appellant's objection ‘that it was procured by order of the Court in violation of the Constitution of the State of Indiana.’ The court's rulings ordering its production and admitting it in evidence are claimed to be reversible error. The constitutional provision relied upon is the last sentence of Section 14, Article 1, Constitution of Indiana: ‘No person, in any criminal prosecution, shall be compelled to testify against himself.’

Assuming without deciding that these rulings amounted to ‘testimonial compulsion’ within the meaning of the constitutional provision, it does not necessarily follow that the judgment should be reversed. Even though a constitutional right was invaded, it seems to us that the appeal is controlled by the usual rule that a judgment will not be reversed for harmless error.

The only fact proved or intended to be proved by the policy was its existence, that is, that the car was insured. The validity of the insurance was not in issue. Note, 17 A.L.R. 1168, 1182. Long prior to the procurement of the order appellant himself put into the possession of the insurance company, and made available to the State, over his...

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4 cases
  • Taylor v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • February 15, 1972
    ...credibility and weight are the exclusive province of the jury. Pritchard v. State (1967), 248 Ind. 566, 230 N.E.2d 416; Sparks v. State (1942), 220 Ind. 343, 42 N.E.2d 40; Hammond v. State (1928), 200 Ind. 343, 163 N.E. An instruction in a criminal case is erroneous, as an invasion of the p......
  • Pritchard v. State
    • United States
    • Indiana Supreme Court
    • October 11, 1967
    ...that the jury is the sole judge of the credibility of a witness and the Court has no right to invade that province. Sparks v. State (1942), 220 Ind. 343, 347, 42 N.E.2d 40; Hammond v. State (1928), 200 Ind. 343, 344, 163 N.E. 262; Culley v. State (1923), 192 Ind. 687, 689, 138 N.E. 260. We ......
  • Commonwealth v. Coroniti.
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Superior Court
    • July 15, 1944
  • Commonwealth v. Coroniti
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Superior Court
    • July 15, 1944
    ... ... C. A. 7th -- 1915) 227 Federal 584, 586 ... [155 ... Pa.Super. 136] In Sparks v. State, (Ind. 1942) 220 ... Ind. 343, 42 N.E.2d 40, defendant was prosecuted for ... procuring ... ...

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