State v. Jackson

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtDEEMER
PartiesSTATE v. JACKSON.
Decision Date18 October 1905

128 Iowa 543
105 N.W. 51

STATE
v.
JACKSON.

Supreme Court of Iowa.

Oct. 18, 1905.


Appeal from District Court, Jasper County; W. G. Clements, Judge.

The state appeals from a verdict of not guilty and a judgment dismissing an indictment against the defendant for the crime of obtaining property by false pretenses. Affirmed.

[105 N.W. 52]

Charles W. Mullan, Atty. Gen., Lawrence De Graff, Asst. Atty. Gen., P. M. Cragan, Co. Atty., and W. A. Spurrier, for the State.

Smyth & Smith, amici curiæ.


DEEMER, J.

The indictment charged defendant with having obtained from one Harrah, by certain false and fraudulent representations, “about 180 head of cattle on credit,” which were reasonably worth “about $15,000,” and for which he agreed to pay “about $15,000.” Although no attack was made upon this indictment in the court below, it is manifestly defective. It nowhere charges or alleges the ownership of the cattle, which is required in this state, as well as in many other jurisdictions. See cases cited in 8 Ency. Plead. & Prac. pp. 877, 878. Moreover, the description of the cattle taken as “about 180 head,” of the value of “about $15,000” is not in our opinion sufficiently certain. “Cattle” is a generic term, and may embrace a number of animals and different kinds of stock; and the qualifying word “about” leaves it distinctly uncertain as to the number of animals and the kind received by the defendant. The value and price of the animals is also uncertain. Redmond v. State, 35 Ohio St. 81. Again, the negation of the truth of the alleged representations was not in accord with established principles of criminal pleading. McClain's Crim. Law, § 702. Had defendant been convicted, he could have raised these objections by motion in arrest of judgment, and the trial court would have been compelled to discharge him; so that in any event no prejudice resulted to the state from any erroneous rulings which may have been made by the trial court during the course of the trial. We might very well refuse to consider the case further; but, as the Attorney General has prosecuted the appeal in order that certain propositions of law may be considered and settled, we shall review such rulings as seem to be of importance.

2. There was a question regarding the good faith of the prosecutor in instituting and pressing these proceedings, and the trial court instructed as follows: “You are further instructed that it is improper to use the criminal laws of the state for the purpose of serving private ends; and in this connection you are advised that, in determining the guilt or innocence of the defendant, you

[105 N.W. 53]

are at liberty to consider whether the prosecution is conducted for the purpose of vindicating the criminal laws of the state, or for the collection of a debt claimed to be due from the defendant to the prosecuting witness, Albert Harrah.” The state vigorously contends that this instruction was and is erroneous; and with this contention we are constrained to agree. The offense, if there was one, was against the state, and not against any particular individual; and the guilt or innocence of one accused of crime is not to be determined from the motives or purposes of any of the witnesses for the state. Donohoe v. State, 59 Ark. 375, 27 S. W. 226;People v. Wieger, 100 Cal. 352, 34 Pac. 826;People v. Henssler, 48 Mich. 49, 11 N. W. 804; McClain's Crim. Law, § 659 et seq. Of course, the motive of the prosecuting witness, or of any other witness for that matter, may be shown for the purpose of testing his credibility, etc.; but the guilt or innocence of one accused of crime does not depend primarily upon the motive of the prosecutor. It frequently happens that the prosecutor is not acting from the purest of motives. He may be smarting from the wrong done him, and have little thought of vindicating the majesty of the law. But this is not reason in itself for saying that the accused is innocent of the of the charge made against him. So that, even though the prosecutor in this case may have instituted the proceedings for the purpose of collecting a debt, the defendant may nevertheless have been guilty of the offense charged...

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9 practice notes
  • U.S. v. Svete, No. 05-13809.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • February 2, 2009
    ...fraud where a victim could easily investigate is "opposed by the overwhelming weight of authorities in this country."); State v. Jackson, 128 Iowa 543, 105 N.W. 51, 53-54 (1905); Commonwealth v. Beckett, 119 Ky. 817, 84 S.W. 758, 759 (1905); State v. Stewart, 9 N.D. 409, 83 N.W. 869, 870-71......
  • State v. Traas, No. 45565.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 17, 1941
    ...State v. Kinney, 44 Iowa 444;State v. Vail, 57 Iowa 103, 10 N.W. 297;State v. Ford, 161 Iowa 323, 142 N.W. 984;State v. Jackson, 128 Iowa 543, 105 N.W. 51; [298 N.W. 864]State v. Gilbert, 138 Iowa 335, 116 N.W. 142;State v. Keeler, 28 Iowa 551;State v. Johnson, 157 Iowa 248, 138 N.W. 458;St......
  • State v. Little, No. 39875.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • December 13, 1929
    ...stated has been followed and reaffirmed in many later cases. State v. Mackey, 82 Iowa, 393, 48 N. W. 918;State v. Jackson, 128 Iowa, 543, 105 N. W. 51;State v. Gilbert, 138 Iowa, 335, 116 N. W. 142;Town of Scranton v. Hensen, 151 Iowa, 221, 130 N. W. 1079;State v. Fairmont Creamery Co., 153......
  • Iowa v. Buckley, No. 1--56537
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • August 29, 1975
    ...State v. Fairmont Creamery Co., 153 Iowa 702, 133 N.W. 895 (1911); State v. Gilbert, 138 Iowa 335, 116 N.W. 142 (1908); State v. Jackson, 128 Iowa 543, 105 N.W. 51 (1905); State v. Vail, 57 Iowa 103, 10 N.W. 297 (1881); State v. Keeler, 28 Iowa 551...
  • Request a trial to view additional results
9 cases
  • U.S. v. Svete, No. 05-13809.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (11th Circuit)
    • February 2, 2009
    ...fraud where a victim could easily investigate is "opposed by the overwhelming weight of authorities in this country."); State v. Jackson, 128 Iowa 543, 105 N.W. 51, 53-54 (1905); Commonwealth v. Beckett, 119 Ky. 817, 84 S.W. 758, 759 (1905); State v. Stewart, 9 N.D. 409, 83 N.W. 869, 870-71......
  • State v. Traas, No. 45565.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 17, 1941
    ...State v. Kinney, 44 Iowa 444;State v. Vail, 57 Iowa 103, 10 N.W. 297;State v. Ford, 161 Iowa 323, 142 N.W. 984;State v. Jackson, 128 Iowa 543, 105 N.W. 51; [298 N.W. 864]State v. Gilbert, 138 Iowa 335, 116 N.W. 142;State v. Keeler, 28 Iowa 551;State v. Johnson, 157 Iowa 248, 138 N.W. 458;St......
  • State v. Little, No. 39875.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • December 13, 1929
    ...stated has been followed and reaffirmed in many later cases. State v. Mackey, 82 Iowa, 393, 48 N. W. 918;State v. Jackson, 128 Iowa, 543, 105 N. W. 51;State v. Gilbert, 138 Iowa, 335, 116 N. W. 142;Town of Scranton v. Hensen, 151 Iowa, 221, 130 N. W. 1079;State v. Fairmont Creamery Co., 153......
  • Iowa v. Buckley, No. 1--56537
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • August 29, 1975
    ...State v. Fairmont Creamery Co., 153 Iowa 702, 133 N.W. 895 (1911); State v. Gilbert, 138 Iowa 335, 116 N.W. 142 (1908); State v. Jackson, 128 Iowa 543, 105 N.W. 51 (1905); State v. Vail, 57 Iowa 103, 10 N.W. 297 (1881); State v. Keeler, 28 Iowa 551...
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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