State v. Brooks, 5415

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Idaho
Citation49 Idaho 404,288 P. 894
Docket Number5415
PartiesSTATE, Respondent, v. MRS. H. E. BROOKS, Appellant
Decision Date31 May 1930


1. Information for manslaughter for causing death with automobile held sufficient (C. S., sec. 8214, subd. 2, as amended by Laws 1921, chap. 155).

2. Information for involuntary manslaughter for causing death with automobile is sufficient without allegations of details of commission of crime (C. S., sec. 8214, subd. 2, as amended by Laws 1921, chap. 155).

3. Information charging commission of involuntary manslaughter following statute, in doing lawful act which might produce death, in unlawful manner, or without due caution and circumspection, does not contain separate offenses (C. S sec. 8214, subd. 2, as amended by Laws 1921, chap. 155).

4. In prosecution for manslaughter for causing death with automobile, charge respecting defendant's rights, if deceased jumped from his car, held not warranted by evidence.

5. Doctrine of contributory negligence has no place in law of crimes.

6. Informations and instructions, language employed by legislature in defining crime is ordinarily sufficient.

7. Court, having given legislature's definition of involuntary manslaughter, sufficiently covered law on such point, and refusal of other instructions was not error (C. S., sec. 8214, subd. 2, as amended by Laws 1921, chap. 155).

8. Refusal to instruct that defendant might be guilty of lesser offenses included in that charged is not error when no evidence tends to reduce offense charged.

9. Evidence held to support conviction of involuntary manslaughter for causing death with automobile.

10. In prosecution for involuntary manslaughter for causing death with automobile, refusal of instruction permitting conviction of included offense of assault or battery held not prejudicial.

11. In prosecution for involuntary manslaughter for causing death with automobile, admitting testimony respecting defendant's speed just before collision held not reversible error in light of entire record.

APPEAL from the District Court of the Fifth Judicial District, for Bannock County. Hon. Jay L. Downing, Judge.

Mrs. H E. Brooks was convicted of manslaughter, and she appeals. Affirmed.

Judgment affirmed. Petition for rehearing denied.

Jones, Pomeroy & Jones and Witty & Anderson, for Appellant.

An information, to be sufficient in charging manslaughter, should charge with the same particularity as is necessary to state a civil cause of action for damages based upon negligence growing out of the same state of facts. (People v. Maki, 245 Mich. 455, 223 N.W. 70; Copeland v. State, 154 Tenn. 7, 49 A. L. R. 605, 285 S.W. 565; 29 C. J. 1154.)

There must be a causal connection between the unlawful act and the death. (16 A. L. R. 914 n.; State v. Budge, 126 Me. 223, 137 A. 244.)

The information in this case charges two separate and distinct offenses, to wit, the offense of reckless driving and the offense of manslaughter, and a conviction on such an information does not cure the defect. (31 C. J. 879.)

The prosecution in this case should have been required to elect upon which of said offenses it would rely. (31 C. J. 789.)

The verdict in this case was void because of its insufficiency, indefiniteness and uncertainty, in that the information attempts and purports to charge two offenses, to wit: reckless driving and manslaughter, and the jury finds a general verdict of guilty as charged in the information, without specifying which of the two purported offenses the jury passed upon. (Cole v. State, (Okla. Cr.) 262 P. 712; Scott v. State, 4 Okla. Cr. 70, 109 P. 240.)

W. D. Gillis, Attorney General, and Fred J. Babcock, Assistant Attorney General, for Respondent.

A conviction is properly had for involuntary manslaughter under our statute where defendant is engaged in any unlawful act, which act can be said to cause or contribute to the death of the party killed. (People v. Seiler, 57 Cal.App. 195, 207 P. 396; People v. Cunningham, 64 Cal.App. 12, 220 P. 312; People v. Wilson, 193 Cal. 512, 226 P. 5; People v. Collins, 195 Cal. 325, 233 P. 97; People v. Lloyd, 97 Cal.App. 664, 275 P. 1010; People v. McKee, 80 Cal.App. 200, 251 P. 675; People v. Halbert, 78 Cal.App. 598, 248 P. 969; State v. Gee, 48 Idaho 688, 284 P. 845.)

The legislature can make certain acts unlawful without requiring wilful or evil intent. (State v. Sterrett, 35 Idaho 580, 207 P. 1071.)

BUDGE, J. Givens, C. J., and Lee, Varian and McNaughton, JJ., concur.



Defendant was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, and appeals from the judgment and an order overruling a motion for new trial. The charge was filed as a result of a collision of an automobile driven by defendant with one driven by James McQuade, who died from injuries sustained at the time. The defendant was driving a Chrysler "70" four-door sedan, accompanied by three other persons, and proceeding in a northerly direction along South Grant Avenue, in the city of Pocatello. McQuade was in a small, open, one-seated automobile, proceeding west along West Halliday Street. The defendant's car crashed into McQuade's at the intersection of the streets mentioned, hurtling McQuade from his car and forcing it over on to the sidewalk. Defendant's car was overturned, the indications being it had struck a water hydrant at one of the corners of the intersection after colliding with McQuade. Evidence of violent contact of defendant's car with the body of McQuade was found on the front of defendant's car. Witnesses who observed the defendant's car as it approached the intersection stated it was proceeding at a rapid rate of speed and swaying and swerving in its course. After the collision the front bumper of defendant's car was found to be pressed back on the wheel, the right front fender bent down almost to the tire and the front axle bent back about two inches.

Appellant first attacks the sufficiency of the information, contending it was subject to demurrer as indefinite and uncertain in that appellant was not apprised thereby of the particular facts constituting the acts or omissions on her part amounting to negligence; and also that the information is duplicitous. The material part of the information charges that appellant, on June 28, 1928, while engaged and occupied in running and operating a motor vehicle on the public highways of the state of Idaho, in Bannock county, at or near the intersection of South Grant Street and West Halliday Street, did unlawfully and feloniously run and operate said motor vehicle negligently and carelessly and without due caution, by then and there driving the same at such rate of speed and in such manner as to endanger the lives and limbs of persons passing by, upon or along said highway. The charge continues with the statement that by reason of said negligence, carelessness and lack of caution the defendant did then and there unlawfully and feloniously drive said automobile against the person of one James McQuade, thereby inflicting upon him mortal wounds from the effects of which he died. "And so said .... defendant did in the manner and form aforesaid unlawfully and feloniously, but without malice, kill the said James McQuade and commit the crime of involuntary manslaughter."

In State v. Gee, 48 Idaho 688, 284 P. 845, this court recently passed upon the sufficiency of an information charging the same offense in more general and restricted language, and held the same not vulnerable to attack upon demurrer which included grounds similar to those urged in the instant case. The information herein more nearly approaches what appellant contends it should contain than did that in the Gee case. We consider the discussion and ruling in that opinion sufficient answer to the point raised by appellant upon demurrer to the information.

Under C. S., sec. 8214 (2), as amended by Sess. Laws 1921, chap. 155, p. 348, involuntary manslaughter "is the unlawful killing of a human being, without malice--in the perpetration of or attempt to perpetrate any unlawful act, other than arson, rape, robbery, burglary, or mayhem; or in the commission of a lawful act which might produce death, in an unlawful manner, or without due caution and circumspection." As will be observed from a reading of the opinion in State v. C. e, supra, the information in such a case is sufficient without allegations of the details of the commission of the crime. The fact that it does charge its commission, following the statute, in the doing of a lawful act which might produce death, in an unlawful manner, or without due caution and circumspection, does not make it contain separate offenses.

Under appellant's requested instructions numbered 2 and 3, the court was asked to charge the jury as to the effect upon the rights of appellant if they believed the deceased jumped from his car at or immediately prior to the collision. There was insufficient evidence upon which to base such instructions if otherwise proper. The doctrine of contributory negligence has no place in the law of crimes. (State v. Gee, supra; State v. McIver, 175 N.C. 761, 94 S.E. 682.)

By appellant's requested instructions numbered 4 and 5, the court was asked to explain to the jury that driving an...

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    ...P.2d 159 (1961); State v. Scott, 72 Idaho 202, 239 P.2d 258 (1951); State v. Monteith, 53 Idaho 30, 20 P.2d 1023 (1933); State v. Brooks, 49 Idaho 404, 288 P. 894 (1930); State v. Thomas, supra. Additionally, in the circumstances herein, the refusal of the trial court to grand the requested......
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