State v. Carter

Citation121 N.W. 801,144 Iowa 371
Decision Date05 June 1909
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa


Appeal from Polk District Court.--HON. HUGH BRENNAN, Judge.

THE defendants were convicted of the crime of conspiracy, and appeal.


Spurrier & Parsons, for appellants.

H. W Byers, Attorney-General, and Chas. W. Lyon, Assistant Attorney-General, for the State.



The defendants were indicted in September, 1907, for a crime charged to have been committed in July, 1907. They filed a motion to quash the indictment, which motion was based on the ground that the grand jury returning the indictment was not drawn, summoned, impaneled, or sworn as provided by law. The motion was overruled, and the correctness of the ruling is before us for review.

The facts upon which the motion was based are substantially as follows: In 1906 lists of names of grand jurors for 1907 were returned to the auditor of the county of Polk under the provisions of section 337 of the Code. At the January, 1907 term of the district court of said county, the Des Moines Civic League, through its attorneys, filed in the office of the clerk of the district court a paper denominated a motion, in which it was alleged that the grand and petit juries of the county for the year 1907 had been illegally selected and drawn in certain particulars named therein, and advising the court that, if found desirable, it might investigate and determine the matters complained of. Thereafter one of the judges of the district court, with the full concurrence of his associate judges, found that the lists of persons from which the grand and petit juries were to be drawn for the year 1907 were illegally selected and set them aside. The Legislature convened soon thereafter, and its attention was directed to the situation that had been found to exist in Polk County and other counties of the State, and, to meet the emergency and to provide the means for securing grand and trial juries under the like and similar circumstances, it enacted chapter twelve, of the Acts of the Thirty-second General Assembly, which, so far as is material to our present inquiry, is as follows:

Wherever it has been or hereafter shall be found or determined by the district court in any county that, for any cause, the lawfully constituted grand jury or a like petit jury has not or cannot be obtained by drawing from the names returned by the election officers to the county auditor to serve as jurors, or that lawfully qualified talesmen cannot be selected by drawing from the list of names, or that the term for which such lists were drawn has expired, the said court may order the board of supervisors of said county to prepare lists of names of persons having the qualifications required by law for grand jurors, petit jurors and talesmen. The court ordering shall fix the time of meeting of said board of supervisors therefor and shall prescribe the time and manner of notice thereof to be given the several members of such board. Said notice may be served by any person and proof of service shall be the same as that of original notice.

The law became effective by publication on the 22d day of March, 1907, and immediately thereafter new lists of jurors were prepared and returned by the board of supervisors, as provided in the act. The grand jury which found the indictment against these defendants was drawn from the list so prepared by the board of supervisors. The appellants contend that the lists prepared and returned by the judges of election under the provisions of Code, section 337, were illegally set aside, that the district court was without jurisdiction to make the order setting them aside, and that because of such illegal action the grand jury drawn after the passage of chapter twelve, Acts 32d General Assembly, was illegally drawn.

The purpose of the Legislature in enacting chapter twelve was to meet the exact situation existing in Polk County, as well as in other counties of the State. This was well known to the courts and to lawyers generally. Such being the case, the enactment should be so construed as to carry out its plain intent without giving a technical meaning to the words "determined or found." State v. Pell, 140 Iowa 655, 119 N.W. 154. In passing the act the Legislature did not attempt to determine whether the lists in Polk and other counties had been legally set aside. The conditions existed, and the act was intended to afford means for securing new lists without delay. Nor need we determine whether the original lists were legally set aside. If it appears from the entire record that no valid objection to the grand jury which returned the indictment can be made, except the erroneous discharge of the first, no substantial right of the defendants has been invaded, and there should not be a reversal. Code, section 5462. In State v. Hughes, 58 Iowa 165, 11 N.W. 706, there was a similar motion to quash the indictment based upon substantially the same state of facts as appears herein (excepting the effect of chapter twelve, 32d General Assembly), and it was held that the motion was properly overruled. See, also, State v. Hart, 67 Iowa 142, 25 N.W. 99. The defendants had no constitutional or statutory right to have their case acted upon by a particular grand jury, and, if the one returning the indictment was legally drawn and selected, they have no ground for complaint. State v. Pell, supra.

We suggest, also, without determining the question, that the district court has the inherent power to set aside a...

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  • State v. Carter
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • 5 June 1909

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