State v. Norris, No. 33316

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtTHORNAL; DREW
Citation168 So.2d 541
PartiesSTATE of Florida, Petitioner, v. Effie L. NORRIS, Respondent.
Decision Date30 October 1964
Docket NumberNo. 33316

Page 541

168 So.2d 541
STATE of Florida, Petitioner,
v.
Effie L. NORRIS, Respondent.
No. 33316.
Supreme Court of Florida.
Oct. 30, 1964.

Page 542

James W. Kynes, Atty. Gen., and James G. Mahorner, Asst. Atty. Gen., for petitioner.

Walter G. Arnold, Jacksonville, for respondent.

THORNAL, Justice.

By petition for a writ of certiorari we are requested to review a decision of the Court of Appeal, First District, because of an alleged conflict with a prior decision of this Court. See Norris v. State, 158 So.2d 803.

We must decide whether certain similar fact evidence was admissible to prove the guilt of an accused in the absence of proof connecting the accused with the collateral situations.

The relevant facts are detailed in the opinion under review. Norris v. State, supra. Mrs. Effie L. Norris was convicted of first degree murder with a mercy recommendation. The crime alleged was the poisoning of one Merrill by administering arsenic oxide. The trial judge permitted testimony regarding the arsenic content found in the exhumed bodies of Earl Norris, late husband of the accused, and Vinton Pace, a business and social associate of Mrs. Norris. Mr. Norris died January 13, 1952. Mr. Pace died March 23, 1953. The current trial for the murder of Merrill was held October 15, 1962. Allegedly the homicide was committed on June 3, 1960. The defendant objected to the admissibility of the evidence on the ground that there was no showing that she had anything whatever to do with feeding arsenic to Mr. Norris or to Mr. Pace. The point made was that the relevancy of similar fact evidence to prove a fact in issue depends upon proof which connects the defendant with the collateral occurrences. The District Court reversed the conviction, holding that it was error to admit the subject evidence. The State seeks review by certiorari claiming a direct conflict with our decision in Williams v. State, Fla., 110 So.2d 654.

Because of an apparent conflict between Williams and the instant decision, we granted the writ. Our study of the District

Page 543

Court decision following oral argument, suggests that the conflict was more apparent than real.

In Williams v. State, supra, we undertook to examine in depth the rules governing the admissibility of similar fact evidence as proof of a fact in issue in a criminal case. We there held that similar fact evidence is admissible if relevant, except to prove bad character or criminal propensities. Such evidence is not objectionable merely because it points to the commission of another crime. The objective to be accomplished by allowing such evidence is not proof...

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23 practice notes
  • Durousseau v. State Of Fla., No. SC08-68
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • December 9, 2010
    ...than proof that Durousseau had the opportunity to commit the murder or mere suspicion that he committed the murder. See State v. Norris, 168 So. 2d 541, 543 (Fla. 1964) ("[M]ere suspicion is insufficient. The proof should be clear and convincing."). Accordingly, the admission of t......
  • Smith v. State, No. SC01-2103.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • January 29, 2004
    ...the burden of proof that the defendant committed the collateral crimes would be by clear and convincing evidence. See State v. Norris, 168 So.2d 541, 543 (Fla.1964); Acevedo v. State, 787 So.2d 127, 129 (Fla. 3d DCA 2001). The majority does not reach this question because it does not constr......
  • Audano v. State, No. 93-00494.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • August 17, 1994
    ...Rule, there must be clear and convincing evidence that the former offense was actually committed by the defendant. State v. Norris, 168 So.2d 541, 543 (Fla. 1964); Dibble v. State, 347 So.2d 1096, 1097 (Fla. 2d DCA In determining the admissibility of collateral crime evidence, the trial cou......
  • Marion v. State, No. 73--212
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • January 8, 1974
    ...of such evidence causes us to emphasize the philosophy of the Williams rule by quoting Mr. Justice Thornal in State v. Norris, Fla.1964, 168 So.2d 541, 'In Williams v. State, supra, we undertook to examine in depth the rules governing the admissibility of similar fact evidence as proof of a......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
23 cases
  • Durousseau v. State Of Fla., No. SC08-68
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • December 9, 2010
    ...than proof that Durousseau had the opportunity to commit the murder or mere suspicion that he committed the murder. See State v. Norris, 168 So. 2d 541, 543 (Fla. 1964) ("[M]ere suspicion is insufficient. The proof should be clear and convincing."). Accordingly, the admission of t......
  • Smith v. State, No. SC01-2103.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • January 29, 2004
    ...the burden of proof that the defendant committed the collateral crimes would be by clear and convincing evidence. See State v. Norris, 168 So.2d 541, 543 (Fla.1964); Acevedo v. State, 787 So.2d 127, 129 (Fla. 3d DCA 2001). The majority does not reach this question because it does not constr......
  • Audano v. State, No. 93-00494.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • August 17, 1994
    ...Rule, there must be clear and convincing evidence that the former offense was actually committed by the defendant. State v. Norris, 168 So.2d 541, 543 (Fla. 1964); Dibble v. State, 347 So.2d 1096, 1097 (Fla. 2d DCA In determining the admissibility of collateral crime evidence, the trial cou......
  • Marion v. State, No. 73--212
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • January 8, 1974
    ...of such evidence causes us to emphasize the philosophy of the Williams rule by quoting Mr. Justice Thornal in State v. Norris, Fla.1964, 168 So.2d 541, 'In Williams v. State, supra, we undertook to examine in depth the rules governing the admissibility of similar fact evidence as proof of a......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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