Spears v. State, No. 45961

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Mississippi
Writing for the CourtPATTERSON; ETHRIDGE; ROBERTSON; ROBERTSON
Citation241 So.2d 148
Docket NumberNo. 45961
Decision Date09 November 1970
PartiesLea SPEARS v. STATE of Mississippi.

Page 148

241 So.2d 148
Lea SPEARS
v.
STATE of Mississippi.
No. 45961.
Supreme Court of Mississippi.
Nov. 9, 1970.

Page 149

Roland C. Lewis, Jackson, W. M. Conerly, Vicksburg, for appellant.

A. F. Summer, Atty. Gen. by Velia Ann Mayer, Special Asst. Atty. Gen., Jackson, for appellee.

PATTERSON, Justice:

Mississippi Constitution, Article 3, Bill of Rights, section 26 (1890) provides in part as follows:

In all criminal prosecutions the accused shall have a right to be heard by himself or counsel, or both, to demand the nature and cause of the accusation, to be confronted by the witnesses against him, to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and, in all prosecutions by indictment or information, a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the county where the offense was committed; * * * (Emphasis added.)

The appellant was tried and convicted of the crime of abortion in the Circuit Court of Warren County. One of the essentials of the crime is pregnancy.

During the course of the trial two doctors introduced as witnesses for the State were permitted to testify that the State's prosecuting witness was pregnant. One of the doctors stated that his opinion of pregnancy was based solely upon the laboratory report of his technician; that he had not examined the State witness. The other doctor also testified from a laboratory report made by a laboratory technician through he had on one occasion, in an emergency situation subsequent to the alleged abortion, personally examined the State witness.

The laboratory technicians were not offered as witnesses. The doctors' testimony, though sworn, was merely a reiteration of that which had been related to them by unsworn witnesses. This was hearsay evidence (Dennis v. Prisock, 221 So.2d 706 (Miss.1969); Hill v. Stewart, 209 So.2d 809 (Miss.1968); City of Laurel v. Upton, 253 Miss. 380, 175 So.2d 621 (1965); and Wild v. Bass, 252 Miss. 615, 173 So.2d 647 (1965)) which denied the defendant the basic and fundamental right to be confronted by the witnesses against her as well as the right of cross-examination. This was error of major proportion, requiring the case to be reversed and prompting the statement that it is more the duty of the State's prosecutor to safeguard the constitutional rights of a defendant than to seek conviction without them.

We find no merit in the other assignments of error.

Reversed and remanded.

ETHRIDGE, C.J., and RODGERS, JONES, BRADY, INZER and SMITH, JJ., concur.

ROBERTSON, J., and GILLESPIE, P.J., dissent.

ROBERTSON, Justice (dissenting):

I respectfully dissent. If admitting the testimony of Dr. William P. Featherston,

Page 150

an acknowledged expert and specialist in the field of pathology, and also a co-owner of the Bratley-Featherston Medical Laboratory, was error, then in my opinion it was harmless error.

The State's prosecution witness was a nineteen-year old young lady. It was she who became pregnant and it was she on whom the abortion was performed. She was the accuser. The defendant was confronted with her accuser and the accuser was subjected to a grueling and rather cruel cross-examination.

The accuser testified in detail as to how she knew she was pregnant. There was no doubt in her mind that she was pregnant, and there was no doubt in the mind of the defendant who performed the abortion and was paid $150.00 cash for...

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21 practice notes
  • Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, No. 07–591.
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 25, 2009
    ...138 Idaho 908, 912, 71 P.3d 1055, 1059 (2003) (laboratory drug report inadmissible under state hearsay rule); Spears v. State, 241 So.2d 148 (Miss.1970) (nurse's observation of victim inadmissible under state hearsay rule and constitution); State v. James, 255 S.C. 365, 179 S.E.2d 41 (1971)......
  • Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, No. 07–591.
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 25, 2009
    ...138 Idaho 908, 912, 71 P.3d 1055, 1059 (2003) (laboratory drug report inadmissible under state hearsay rule); Spears v. State, 241 So.2d 148 (Miss.1970) (nurse's observation of victim inadmissible under state hearsay rule and constitution); State v. 129 S.Ct. 2561James, 255 S.C. 365, 179 S.......
  • Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, No. 07–591.
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 25, 2009
    ...138 Idaho 908, 912, 71 P.3d 1055, 1059 (2003) (laboratory drug report inadmissible under state hearsay rule); Spears v. State, 241 So.2d 148 (Miss.1970) (nurse's observation of victim inadmissible under state hearsay rule and constitution); State v. James, 255 S.C. 365, 179 S.E.2d 41 (1971)......
  • U.S. v. Bentley, No. 88-1606
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • June 12, 1989
    ...the first trial violated the defendant's right to confront adverse witnesses guaranteed by the Mississippi constitution. Spears v. State, 241 So.2d 148 4 The prosecutor stated: The records of Lubbock General Hospital ... the third page here shows that while [Bentley] was in the hospital on ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
21 cases
  • Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, No. 07–591.
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 25, 2009
    ...138 Idaho 908, 912, 71 P.3d 1055, 1059 (2003) (laboratory drug report inadmissible under state hearsay rule); Spears v. State, 241 So.2d 148 (Miss.1970) (nurse's observation of victim inadmissible under state hearsay rule and constitution); State v. James, 255 S.C. 365, 179 S.E.2d 41 (1971)......
  • Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, No. 07–591.
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 25, 2009
    ...138 Idaho 908, 912, 71 P.3d 1055, 1059 (2003) (laboratory drug report inadmissible under state hearsay rule); Spears v. State, 241 So.2d 148 (Miss.1970) (nurse's observation of victim inadmissible under state hearsay rule and constitution); State v. 129 S.Ct. 2561James, 255 S.C. 365, 179 S.......
  • Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, No. 07–591.
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • June 25, 2009
    ...138 Idaho 908, 912, 71 P.3d 1055, 1059 (2003) (laboratory drug report inadmissible under state hearsay rule); Spears v. State, 241 So.2d 148 (Miss.1970) (nurse's observation of victim inadmissible under state hearsay rule and constitution); State v. James, 255 S.C. 365, 179 S.E.2d 41 (1971)......
  • U.S. v. Bentley, No. 88-1606
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • June 12, 1989
    ...the first trial violated the defendant's right to confront adverse witnesses guaranteed by the Mississippi constitution. Spears v. State, 241 So.2d 148 4 The prosecutor stated: The records of Lubbock General Hospital ... the third page here shows that while [Bentley] was in the hospital on ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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