State v. Peirce, No. 30921.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtSALINGER
Citation178 Iowa 417,159 N.W. 1050
PartiesSTATE v. PEIRCE.
Decision Date17 November 1916
Docket NumberNo. 30921.

178 Iowa 417
159 N.W. 1050

STATE
v.
PEIRCE.

No. 30921.

Supreme Court of Iowa.

Nov. 17, 1916.


Appeal from District Court, Woodbury County; John W. Anderson, Judge.

From a conviction charging him with conspiracy to do illegal acts injurious to the public morals, police, and to the administration of public justice, the defendant appeals. Reversed and remanded.

[159 N.W. 1053]

Henderson & Fribourg and Paul M. Hatfield, all of Sioux City, for appellant.

George Cosson, Atty. Gen., and O. T. Naglestad, Co. Atty., of Sioux City, for the State.


SALINGER, J.

[1][2] There being good reason to believe that the jury would disagree, they were given an additional instruction which is now complained of, and which in substance, charged as follows: That it should be the aim of the jury to reach a verdict if it could conscientiously do so; that the object of submitting causes was agreement and not disagreement; that while, of course, the verdict should be that of each juror freely assented to, each should listen with respect to the arguments of his fellows; that being strongly in the minority should incline one to re-examine the ground of his opinion; that mere pride of opinion and a spirit of controversy had no place in the jury box; that retrials were burdensome and expensive; that some jury must decide the case, and there was no reason to believe another would be better qualified than the present jury, or that it would have more or clearer evidence.

Now, while among the cases cited State v. Pitts, 11 Iowa, 346, merely determines the abstract proposition that it is not error to give an additional instruction, State v. McGhuey, 153 Iowa, 309, 133 N. W. 678, decides no more than that the court may properly tell the jury it should not be deterred from reaching a verdict by considerations of the severity of possible punishment, one holding of State v. Richardson, 137 Iowa, at 596, 115 N. W. 220, is merely that it is no abuse of discretion to give an additional instruction after a jury has failed to agree upon 17 hours of deliberation, while perhaps Delmonica v. Smith, 112 Iowa, 659, 84 N. W. 906, is not a controlling authority, because the exact conditions and facts do not appear in the opinion, and the record does not indicate what happened after the additional instruction was given, and while the circumstances were so different in State v. Olds, 106 Iowa, 111, 76 N. W. 644, as to make that case of little value on the present controversy, Niles v. Sprague, 13 Iowa, 198,Frandsen v. Railway, 36 Iowa, 372,Savings Bank v. Bank, 101 Iowa, 547, 70 N. W. 769, 63 Am. St. Rep. 399,State v. Tripp, 113 Iowa, 698, 84 N. W. 546,Burton v. Neill, 140 Iowa, 141, 118 N. W. 302, 17 Ann. Cas. 532,Jackson v. State, 91 Wis. 253, 64 N. W. 838,Warlick v. Plonk, 103 N. C. 81, 9 S. E. 190, and Ahearn v. Mann, 60 N. H. 472, have, taken together, approved every part of this instruction, and State v. Richardson, 137 Iowa, 591, 115 N. W. 220, and Armstrong v. James, 155 Iowa, 562, 136 N. W. 686, in effect, approve it in its entirety. On the other hand, in Clemens v. Railway, 163 Iowa, 499, 144 N. W. 354, we reverse because of an instruction substantially like it, the dissent of Mr. Justice Weaver in the Armstrong Case, supra, presents a most formidable argument against the giving of the instruction in that case, and in cases where we sustained the verdict we have inclined to

[159 N.W. 1054]

view such an instruction with disapproval. State v. Mulhollen, 155 N. W. 254, and State v. See, 158 N. W. 668. But on careful analysis of all these cases there is no decision that such an instruction should never be given, and no more is held than that it depends upon the conditions under which its language is used whether there is reversible error. We must then turn to the conditions existing when such an instruction as this was respectively approved or disapproved, compare them with those surrounding the giving of the one here complained of, and deduce therefrom, if we can, some general rule whereby it may be determined when it is either proper or improper to charge as was done here. We must keep in mind the trial court is vested with a reasonable discretion in the premises, and that the instruction at bar is free from at least one fault which has condemned such, namely, an intimation which party was favored by the court; for here the jury was told expressly that it was not intimated to them in the slightest degree what the verdict should be.

We have intimated strongly that such instructions are erroneous if: (1) Their language indicates an intention to coerce into agreement; or (2) suggests the jury would be kept together until it agreed. Savings Bank v. Bank, 101 Iowa, 547, 70 N. W. 769, 63 Am. St. Rep. 399;State v. McGhuey, 153 Iowa, 309, 133 N. W. 678. The ultimate test would seem to be whether the additional instruction forced or helped to force an agreement, or whether it merely started a new train of real deliberation which ended the disagreement. In the Armstrong Case much stress is laid upon the fact that the jury requested additional instructions after the first, alleged to have been coercive, had been given, of which it is said it indicates the merits of the case were being considered, and the jury “had got to the very vitals of it; that the instruction complained of did not of itself hasten the verdict. It did not come in until still additional instruction was given.” It is further pointed out the jury was reluctant to be discharged and asked for further time. We say in Richardson's Case that the length of time spent in deliberation after the giving of the instruction “clearly indicates that they were not misled by the instruction.”

It is very suggestive that, in the main, in the cases wherein the instruction was approved, the jury deliberated a shorter time before the additional instruction was given, and reached a verdict more slowly after the instruction was given than in the Clemens Case, where the instruction was disapproved, and in the present case. The argument in the Clemens Case that, where the jury remains out long after being additionally charged, physical exhaustion may be a factor in agreement, is sound, but it does not change that there is more reason to doubt the quality of the verdict when the disagreement is of great length and agreement after the additional instruction is given comes in comparatively a very short time than where substantially opposite conditions appear; all of which makes it a relevant inquiry what difference the cases present as to the time spent in deliberation before, and the duration of the deliberations after, such an instruction was given.

In Burton v. Neill, 140 Iowa, 142, 118 N. W. 302, 17 Ann. Cas. 532, the jury had been out about 5 hours when the additional instruction was given; in Armstrong v. James, 155 Iowa, 562, 136 N. W. 686, some 15 hours; in State v. Richardson, 137 Iowa, 594, 115 N. W. 220, 17 hours; in Savings Bank v. National Bank, 101 Iowa, at 547, 70 N. W. 769, 63 Am. St. Rep. 399, 22 hours; in Delmonica v. Smith, 112 Iowa, 659, 84 N. W. 906, more than 36 hours; in Frandsen v. Railway, 36 Iowa, 378, 48 hours; and in Clemens v. Railway, 163 Iowa, 506, 144 N. W. 354, where the giving of the instruction caused a reversal, some 50 hours.

In the instant case the additional instruction was given after the jury had been kept together some 13 days and had been deliberating upon its verdict some 48 hours. It stood three for acquittal and nine for conviction when the additional instruction was given, and returned a verdict of guilty in something less than 4 hours thereafter. In the Armstrong Case, supra, 4 hours or more was needed to reach verdict; in Burton v. Neill, 140 Iowa, 142, 118 N. W. 302, 17 Ann. Cas. 532, the verdict was reached some 12 hours after the additional charge; in Richardson's Case, supra, 14 hours elapsed; in the Clemens Case, supra, 20 hours. It seems to resolve into whether the relative time spent in deliberation may raise a presumption of prejudice against the instruction.

In the Armstrong Case, while sustaining the instruction, we do so because of absence of other grounds for reversal. In State v. See, 158 N. W. 668, it does not appear how long the jury had disagreed except that it was for “a considerable time”; and we sustained the instruction, though disapproving it, because “there is nothing appearing in this case to warrant a reversal because of the giving of this instruction.” In State v. Mulhollen, 155 N. W. 254, nothing is shown as to the duration of disagreement, except that the deliberations had lasted “several hours.” The instruction, though disapproved, does not effectuate a reversal, because we find that the conditions give stronger warrant for approving the instruction than existed in the Richardson Case, and we say:

“The evidence is so overwhelming and conclusive, as well as undisputed, that it is inconceivable that any candid juror could in good faith find any reasonable doubt of the guilt of the defendants. For that reason, if for no other, we think that the instruction could not have been prejudicial.”

The dissent in Armstrong's Case declares the majority has marshaled all the extreme

[159 N.W. 1055]

cases which “approached dangerously near the exclusive province of the jury,” and that even those rest on the fact that, “under the peculiar circumstances of the individual cases, no prejudice to the appealing party could be presumed.”

The Clemens Case emphasizes that the physical discomfort of long confinement to men accustomed to outdoor living creates a dangerous atmosphere in which to receive an instruction urging the yielding of the minority and the desirability of verdicts, and that, where this is done, it “leads the mind to the more reasonable suspicion that they ceased further resistance, gave up their own convictions, and surrendered to the majority than that they proceeded thereafter to the laborious and uncertain task of convincing themselves that they...

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42 practice notes
  • State v. Saltzman, No. 47625
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • September 19, 1950
    ...and prescribed procedure.' On the same subject see State v. Giudice, 170 Iowa 731, 153 N.W. 336, Ann.Cas.1917C, 1160; State v. Peirce, 178 Iowa 417, 159 N.W. 1050. In the above cases there was a reversal, this court holding that the act of the prosecuting attorney in argument stating matter......
  • State v. Myers, No. 51679
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • March 8, 1966
    ...Iowa 1293, 176 N.W. 327, and citations. Compare Clemens v. Chicago, R. I. & P. Ry. Co., 163 Iowa 499, 144 N.W. 354, and State v. Peirce, 178 Iowa 417, 159 N.W. Here the court told the jury that 'Each juror should listen to the arguments of other jurors with a disposition to be convinced by ......
  • State v. Levy, No. 52602
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • July 18, 1968
    ...admonitions, and served to deprive defendant of a fair trial. See State v. Neifert, 206 Iowa 384, 389, 220 N.W. 32, and State v. Peirce, 178 Iowa 417, 443--444, 159 N.W. 1050. As a result, the conviction cannot be allowed to In addition to authorities heretofore cited supporting this conclu......
  • State v. Knox, No. 46509.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 25, 1945
    ...Iowa [169], 172, 74 N.W. 946;State v. Kuhn, 117 Iowa 216, 90 N.W. 733;State v. Brandenberger, 151 Iowa 197, 130 N.W. 1065;State v. Peirce, 178 Iowa 417, 159 N.W. 1050; [18 N.W.2d 721]State v. Brooks, 181 Iowa 874, 165 N.W. 194;State v. Brennan, 185 Iowa 73, 169 N.W. 744.’ Code, section 5485......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
42 cases
  • State v. Saltzman, No. 47625
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • September 19, 1950
    ...and prescribed procedure.' On the same subject see State v. Giudice, 170 Iowa 731, 153 N.W. 336, Ann.Cas.1917C, 1160; State v. Peirce, 178 Iowa 417, 159 N.W. 1050. In the above cases there was a reversal, this court holding that the act of the prosecuting attorney in argument stating matter......
  • State v. Myers, No. 51679
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • March 8, 1966
    ...Iowa 1293, 176 N.W. 327, and citations. Compare Clemens v. Chicago, R. I. & P. Ry. Co., 163 Iowa 499, 144 N.W. 354, and State v. Peirce, 178 Iowa 417, 159 N.W. Here the court told the jury that 'Each juror should listen to the arguments of other jurors with a disposition to be convinced by ......
  • State v. Levy, No. 52602
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • July 18, 1968
    ...admonitions, and served to deprive defendant of a fair trial. See State v. Neifert, 206 Iowa 384, 389, 220 N.W. 32, and State v. Peirce, 178 Iowa 417, 443--444, 159 N.W. 1050. As a result, the conviction cannot be allowed to In addition to authorities heretofore cited supporting this conclu......
  • State v. Knox, No. 46509.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • June 25, 1945
    ...Iowa [169], 172, 74 N.W. 946;State v. Kuhn, 117 Iowa 216, 90 N.W. 733;State v. Brandenberger, 151 Iowa 197, 130 N.W. 1065;State v. Peirce, 178 Iowa 417, 159 N.W. 1050; [18 N.W.2d 721]State v. Brooks, 181 Iowa 874, 165 N.W. 194;State v. Brennan, 185 Iowa 73, 169 N.W. 744.’ Code, section 5485......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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