State v. Robinson

CourtSupreme Court of Alabama
Writing for the CourtHARALSON, J.
Citation20 So. 30,111 Ala. 482
PartiesSTATE EX REL. ATTORNEY GENERAL v. ROBINSON, JUDGE.
Decision Date16 April 1896

20 So. 30

111 Ala. 482

STATE EX REL. ATTORNEY GENERAL
v.

ROBINSON, JUDGE.

Supreme Court of Alabama

April 16, 1896


This was an impeachment proceeding commenced in the supreme court upon information filed by the attorney general upon a written order of the governor charging the respondent, William C. Robinson, judge of probate of the county of Lee, in the state of Alabama, with-First, habitual drunkenness; second, willful neglect of duty; and, third, incompetency; upon which charges it was sought to impeach the said William C. Robinson, and to remove him from the office of judge of probate of the county of Lee. To each of these charges the defendant pleaded not guilty. The evidence was taken before a commissioner by deposition. The facts disclosed by these depositions, after their publication, are sufficiently stated in the opinion. Defendant acquitted.

Wm. C. Fitts, Atty. Gen., and Thos. G. Jones, for the State.

J. M. Chilton and A. & R. B. Barnes, for defendant.

HARALSON, J.

Under the present constitution of the state, the governor, secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, attorney general, superintendent of education, and judges of the supreme court, may be removed from office for willful neglect of duty, corruption in office, habitual drunkenness, incompetency, or any offense involving moral turpitude while in office, or committed under color thereof, or connected therewith, by the senate sitting as a court for that purpose, under oath or affirmation, on articles or charges prepared by the house of representatives. Article 7, § 1. All other state officers, from the judges and chancellors down to and including mayors and intendants of incorporated cities and towns, may be removed for any of the causes specified in the foregoing article and section, by the courts of the country,-the chancellors, judges of the circuit courts, judges of the probate courts, solicitors of the circuit courts, and judges of the inferior courts, are removed by the supreme court, and all the other state officers by the circuit, city or criminal court of the county, under such regulations as may be presented by law. Article 7, §§ 2, 3; Code, §§ 4818-4831. As to those officers impeachable by and before the courts, the proceeding is strictly judicial. Whatever may be the rules of procedure of the senate sitting as a court for the trial of an impeachment case, as to those officers now or formerly triable before that body, it is certain that in the trial of an impeachment cause by a court of justice, in any of those cases now committed to the judicial department for trial, the court proceeds to make strict judicial investigation, according to judicial methods. Such proceedings are criminal in their nature, and are governed by the rules of law applicable to criminal causes. Before a defendant can be convicted, it is incumbent on the state to prove his guilt, to the satisfaction of the court beyond reasonable doubt. The constitutional and statutory provisions on the subject, are to receive strict construction. State v. Buckley, 54 Ala. 599; State v. Seawell, 64 Ala. 228; State v. Tally (Ala.) 15 So. 722.

"Habitual drunkenness," specified as such for the first time in the constitution of 1875, as one of the grounds of impeachment of a public officer, applies alike to all public officers, from the governor and judge to the constable and intendant of an incorporated city or town. In a court of justice, for such as are there triable, no distinction is or can be made in the application of the rules of law for the impeachment of the one, that does not apply [20 So. 31] with equal force to any other officer. The dignity of the office of the incumbent proceeded against, makes no difference, and a court will not hold a chancellor, judge of the circuit or city court, or a judge of the probate court, to a stricter account, than it will a constable, or an officer of the lowest grade, mentioned in the constitution and statute, for any of the impeachable offenses therein specified. These officers from the highest to the lowest are all mentioned together, as being amenable alike for any of the designated offenses. As said by Judge Story, it is not compatible with the genius of our institutions, to make that a crime at one time, or in one person, which would be deemed innocent at another time or in another person. 1 Story, Const. § 797; State v. Hastings, 37 Neb. 115, 55 N.W. 774. It is observable that the constitution does not specify "drunkenness" in a public officer as a cause of removal from office, but among others is specified the offense of "habitual drunkenness." We must presume that the framers of the constitution in employing these words, intended to use them in their ordinary legal signification, and to draw a distinction between drunkenness that was casual or occasional, and that which had become fixed, as habitual. It has been truly said, that it is difficult to draw the line of distinction between these two conditions to which one may become addicted. In State v. Savage, 89 Ala. 8, 7 So. 7, 183, this court attempted a definition of habitual drunkenness,-as nearly correct, perhaps, as can be given,-as follows: "'Drunkenness' is that effect produced on the mind, passions or body, by intoxicants taken into the system, which so far changes the normal condition, as to materially disturb and impair the capacity for healthy, rational action or conduct; which causes abnormal results, or such as would not ensue in the absence of intoxicants,-the changed effect produced by the immoderate or excessive use of intoxicants, as contrasted with normal status and conduct. 'Habit' is customary state, a disposition acquired by frequent repetition; aptitude by doing frequently the same thing; usage, established manner. When a person has repeatedly acted in a particular way, at intervals, whether regular or irregular, for such length of time as that we can predicate with reasonable...

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17 practice notes
  • Batson v. State, 6 Div. 798
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • May 26, 1927
    ...or limb for the same offense. This did not apply to impeachment, though in some respects criminal. State ex rel. Atty. Gen. v. Robinson, 111 Ala. 482, 20 So. 30. The Legislature so understood, in giving the right of an appeal to the state in section 4514 of the Code. The statute gave the ri......
  • State ex rel. Mullis v. Mathews, 4 Div. 701
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • January 19, 1953
    ...599; State ex rel. Attorney Page 108 General v. Tally, 102 Ala. 25, 15 So. 722; State ex rel. Attorney General v. Robinson,[259 Ala. 130] 111 Ala. 482, 484, 20 So. 30; Batson v. State, 216 Ala. 275, 113 So. 300; State ex rel. Knight v. deGraffenried, 226 Ala. 169, 146 So. Section 8 of the C......
  • Atwell v. State, 4 Div. 526
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • October 4, 1977
    ...when occasion offers, and sobriety or abstinence is the exception, the condition of habitual drunkenness exists. State v. Robinson, 20 So. 30, 31, 111 Ala. 482, citing Tatum v. State, 63 Ala. 147, 152; Stanley v. State, 26 Ala. 26; Smith v. State, 55 Ala. 1, 10; (additional citations omitte......
  • Lester v. Sampson, No. 1536.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • November 18, 1915
    ...41 Tex. Cr. R. 190, 53 S. W. 113. Webster defines "habitual" as customary; accustomed; usual; common; regular. In State v. Robinson, 111 Ala. 482, 20 South. 30, the court defines "habit" as a customary szate; a disposition acquired by frequent repetition; aptitude by doing frequently the sa......
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17 cases
  • Batson v. State, 6 Div. 798
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • May 26, 1927
    ...or limb for the same offense. This did not apply to impeachment, though in some respects criminal. State ex rel. Atty. Gen. v. Robinson, 111 Ala. 482, 20 So. 30. The Legislature so understood, in giving the right of an appeal to the state in section 4514 of the Code. The statute gave the ri......
  • State ex rel. Mullis v. Mathews, 4 Div. 701
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • January 19, 1953
    ...599; State ex rel. Attorney Page 108 General v. Tally, 102 Ala. 25, 15 So. 722; State ex rel. Attorney General v. Robinson,[259 Ala. 130] 111 Ala. 482, 484, 20 So. 30; Batson v. State, 216 Ala. 275, 113 So. 300; State ex rel. Knight v. deGraffenried, 226 Ala. 169, 146 So. Section 8 of the C......
  • Atwell v. State, 4 Div. 526
    • United States
    • Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals
    • October 4, 1977
    ...when occasion offers, and sobriety or abstinence is the exception, the condition of habitual drunkenness exists. State v. Robinson, 20 So. 30, 31, 111 Ala. 482, citing Tatum v. State, 63 Ala. 147, 152; Stanley v. State, 26 Ala. 26; Smith v. State, 55 Ala. 1, 10; (additional citations omitte......
  • Lester v. Sampson, No. 1536.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Missouri (US)
    • November 18, 1915
    ...Cr. R. 190, 53 S. W. 113. Webster defines "habitual" as customary; accustomed; usual; common; regular. In State v. Robinson, 111 Ala. 482, 20 South. 30, the court defines "habit" as a customary szate; a disposition acquired by frequent repetition; aptitude by doing frequ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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