State v. Cantwell

CourtConnecticut Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtHINMAN, Judge.
Citation8 A.2d 533,126 Conn. 1
PartiesSTATE v. CANTWELL et al.
Decision Date26 June 1939

8 A.2d 533

126 Conn. 1

STATE
v.
CANTWELL et al.

Supreme Court of Errors of Connecticut.

June 26, 1939


Rehearing Denied Oct. 13, 1939. [8 A.2d 534]

Appeal from Court of Common Pleas, New Haven County; Walter M. Pickett, Judge.

Information charging Russell Cantwell and others with the crime of soliciting money for an alleged charitable cause without said cause having been approved by the secretary of the public welfare council in the third count and of breach of the peace in the fifth count, brought to the Court of Common Pleas for New Haven County, where demurrers to said counts were overruled and the issues were tried to the court, judgment of guilty and appeal by the defendants.

Error in part and new trial ordered.

MALTBIE, C.J., and BROWN, J., dissenting in part. [8 A.2d 535]

[126 Conn. 2] Olin R. Moyle, of Brooklyn, N. Y., and Otto H. LaMacchia and Margaret E. Connors, both of Bridgeport, for appellants.

Edwin S. Pickett, Pros. Atty., and Luke H. Stapleton, both of New Haven, for appellee.

Argued Before MALTBIE, C.J., and HINMAN, AVERY, BROWN, and JENNINGS, JJ.

HINMAN, Judge.

The defendants were tried and convicted upon the third and fifth counts of an information, the third charging them with violation of § 6294 of the General Statutes as amended by § 860d of the 1937 Supplement, quoted in the footnote[1], and the [126 Conn. 3] fifth that they ‘ did disturb the public tranquility by certain acts or conduct inciting to violence or tending to provoke or excite others * * * to break the peace.’ Assignments of error pertaining to correction of the finding having been abandoned, this appeal is to be determined upon the facts as found, without the resort to the evidence which is invited in brief and argument.

The defendants, a father (Newton) and his two minor sons, aged sixteen and eighteen years, are members of a religious organization known as Jehovah's Witnesses and possessed credentials attesting that they are ordained ministers to preach the gospel. Each was equipped with a bag containing books and pamphlets in several different languages, a portable phonograph, and a set of records each of which when played introduced and was a sales talk for one of the books. Their mode of operation was to go singly from house to house and ask permission to play one of the records. ‘ They would then ask the prospects to buy the book and if not they would accept any contribution they could make. If the prospect was in a position to do this a pamphlet was left on the condition it would be read.’ On April 26, 1938, they were working in this manner on Cassius Street, in New Haven, which is a thickly-settled neighborhood where about 90 per cent. of the residents are Roman Catholics. A phonograph record giving a sales talk on one of the books, entitled ‘ Enemies,’ was played in court and was an attack on the Catholic religion. None of the persons solicited were members of Jehovah's Witnesses; the defendants had not secured the permit provided by [126 Conn. 4] § 6294 of the General Statutes and the trial court concluded that they were guilty of violating it. They claim that none of their activities come within the scope of this statute but that they consisted only of the distribution of printed books, pamphlets and periodicals. The finding which we have quoted, while somewhat ambiguous, sufficiently shows that in addition to the sale of the books and the distribution of the pamphlets the defendants were also soliciting contributions or donations of money for an alleged religious cause, and thereby came within [8 A.2d 536] the purview of the statute. The claim that the evidence was not sufficient to bring them within the statute is not now open to consideration in view of the abandonment of attack upon the finding; in fact the quoted paragraph which we regard as decisive was not attacked by the assignments directed against the finding as made.

The further contention that this statute, as applied to the acts of the defendants, is invalid under §§ 3, 5 and 6 of Article First of the Connecticut Constitution and the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, U.S.C.A., appears to be based upon a claim that the statute, as applied to the defendants and their acts, abridges or denies freedom of religious profession and worship and liberty of speech and of the press. As already indicated, and as is plain from its terms, § 6294 does not apply,...

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19 practice notes
  • State v. Baccala, SC 19717
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • July 11, 2017
    ...U.S. at 296, 60 S.Ct. 900,29 which arose out of the proselytization activities of a group of Jehovah's Witnesses. See State v. Cantwell , 126 Conn. 1, 3, 8 A.2d 533 (1939), rev'd, 310 U.S. 296, 60 S.Ct. 900, 84 L.Ed. 1213 (1940). The information alleged that a group, a father and his two ch......
  • State v. Anonymous (1971-4)
    • United States
    • Circuit Court of Connecticut
    • December 24, 1970
    ...the many aspects of what constitutes 'Breach of the peace.' See State v. Van Allen, 140 Conn. 586, 589, 102 A.2d 526; State v. Cantwell, 126 Conn. 1, 6, 7, 8 A.2d 533, rev'd on other grounds, 310 U.S. 296, 309, Page 622 60 S.Ct. 900, 84 L.Ed. 1213; Malley v. Lane, 97 Conn. 133, 138, 115 A. ......
  • Cologne v. Westfarms Associates, No. 260773
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Connecticut
    • January 4, 1982
    ...constitution. See State v. Andrews, 150 Conn. 92, 186 A.2d 546 (1962); State v. Sul, 146 Conn. 78, 147 A.2d 686 (1958); State v. Cantwell, 126 Conn. 1, 8 A.2d 533 (1939); State v. Hoskins, 35 Conn.Sup. 587, 401 A.2d 619 (1978). Those cases involved state action. The Connecticut Supreme Cour......
  • State v. Hoskins, No. 581
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Connecticut
    • May 5, 1978
    ...are calculated or likely to provoke another person or persons to acts of immediate [35 Conn.Supp. 591] violence. See State v. Cantwell, 126 Conn. 1, 7, 8 A.2d 533. Such expressions are not constitutionally protected. Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568, 572, 62 S.Ct. 766, 86 L.Ed. The......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
19 cases
  • State v. Baccala, SC 19717
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Connecticut
    • July 11, 2017
    ...U.S. at 296, 60 S.Ct. 900,29 which arose out of the proselytization activities of a group of Jehovah's Witnesses. See State v. Cantwell , 126 Conn. 1, 3, 8 A.2d 533 (1939), rev'd, 310 U.S. 296, 60 S.Ct. 900, 84 L.Ed. 1213 (1940). The information alleged that a group, a father and his two ch......
  • State v. Anonymous (1971-4)
    • United States
    • Circuit Court of Connecticut
    • December 24, 1970
    ...the many aspects of what constitutes 'Breach of the peace.' See State v. Van Allen, 140 Conn. 586, 589, 102 A.2d 526; State v. Cantwell, 126 Conn. 1, 6, 7, 8 A.2d 533, rev'd on other grounds, 310 U.S. 296, 309, Page 622 60 S.Ct. 900, 84 L.Ed. 1213; Malley v. Lane, 97 Conn. 133, 138, 115 A. ......
  • Cologne v. Westfarms Associates, No. 260773
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Connecticut
    • January 4, 1982
    ...constitution. See State v. Andrews, 150 Conn. 92, 186 A.2d 546 (1962); State v. Sul, 146 Conn. 78, 147 A.2d 686 (1958); State v. Cantwell, 126 Conn. 1, 8 A.2d 533 (1939); State v. Hoskins, 35 Conn.Sup. 587, 401 A.2d 619 (1978). Those cases involved state action. The Connecticut Supreme Cour......
  • State v. Hoskins, No. 581
    • United States
    • Superior Court of Connecticut
    • May 5, 1978
    ...are calculated or likely to provoke another person or persons to acts of immediate [35 Conn.Supp. 591] violence. See State v. Cantwell, 126 Conn. 1, 7, 8 A.2d 533. Such expressions are not constitutionally protected. Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315 U.S. 568, 572, 62 S.Ct. 766, 86 L.Ed. The......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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