State v. Schenk, No. 46268.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtMANTZ
Citation236 Iowa 178,18 N.W.2d 169
PartiesSTATE v. SCHENK.
Decision Date03 April 1945
Docket NumberNo. 46268.

236 Iowa 178
18 N.W.2d 169

STATE
v.
SCHENK.

No. 46268.

Supreme Court of Iowa.

April 3, 1945.


Appeal from District Court, Benton County; R. F. Thomas, Judge.

Defendant, La Verne Schenk, was indicted, tried, and convicted of the crime of conspiracy. His motion to set aside the verdict and to grant a new trial being overruled, he has appealed to this court.

Affirmed.

[18 N.W.2d 170]

Jordan & Jordan and Edward J. Dahms, all of Cedar Rapids, for appellant.

John M. Rankin, Atty. Gen., Charles H. Scholz, Asst. Atty. Gen., Victor D. Vifquain, Co. Atty., of Belle Plaine, Clarence Nichols, of Vinton, and Charles E. Hughes, Sp. Pros., of Belle Plaine, for appellee.


MANTZ, Justice.

I. The information upon which defendant was tried and convicted is as follows: ‘That said LaVerne Schenk on or about the 19th day of April, A.D. 1942, in the county of Benton and State of Iowa, did, with Cato Noeller and Robert Abernathy and others, to the undersigned unknown, conspire together to wrongfully and unlawfully injure the property of the Vinton Produce Company, a partnership, and its employees and the Marshal of the City of Vinton, Iowa, and the deputy Marshals of the City of Vinton, Iowa, lawfully assembled for the purpose of preventing breaches of the peace and other unlawful acts at

[18 N.W.2d 171]

and in the vicinity of the property of the said Vinton Produce Company contrary to the peace and dignity of the State of Iowa.’

The crime charged was that of conspiracy as set forth in Section 13162, Code of 1939, which is as follows: ‘If any two or more persons conspire or confederate together with the fraudulent or malicious intent wrongfully to injure the * * * property, or rights in property of another * * * they are guilty of a conspiracy, and every such offender, and every person who is convicted of a conspiracy at common law, shall be imprisoned in the penitentiary not more than three years.’ Under this statute the defendant was tried and convicted.

II. Before setting forth the legal principles to be applied where the crime charged is that of conspiracy, we will briefly review the evidence upon which the State relies to sustain the charge. The State makes no claim that there is direct evidence of the charged conspiracy. Its claim is that the record shows sufficient facts and circumstances to establish such charge. We think the record fully sustains this claim of the State.

The jury was warranted in finding from the evidence the following facts: The Vinton Produce Company of Vinton, Iowa, was a co-partnership engaged in handling at its place of business various products such as cream, eggs, and poultry, and had a considerable number of workmen of both sexes in its employ. Sometime about April 16 or 17, 1942, there was organized among its employees a local union affiliated with the C.I.O. The defendant had come to Vinton shortly prior to this time and under his direction the local union was organized. On Saturday, April 18th, some of the workers quit and organized a strike and the evidence shows that defendant was in charge of its activities. Under his direction a picket line was formed to prevent ingress into the place of business of the company. All the workers did not quit their jobs and walk out. Some claim is made that various officers of the local union were discharged, thereby causing the strike. There was evidence from which the jury could find that various workers refused to abide by the working rules and quit and that others joined in sympathy. Especial effort was made to prevent workers from entering the plant. From the time the picket line was set up it was maintained at all times. Farmers who brought in products were stopped and were urged not to enter. On several occasions, cars carrying officials of the company were stopped, some were lifted from the ground and in some instances efforts were made to tip over such vehicles. Some of those active in the picket line were not striking employees and some did not live in Vinton. Some days prior to the strike the defendant was at a meeting of the Greater Vinton Club, composed of some business men in Vinton, at which time the labor situation was discussed. Defendant stated that he was an experienced organizer; that he had participated in the strike at the Ford plant in Detroit,; that blood was there shed and lives lost-more than outsiders found out about; that if there was a strike in Vinton it would be a strike that Vinton would never forget; also that in case of a strike at Vinton he, defendant, would have absolute control, and it was his will which would govern. Following the incidents of April 18th, the authorities of Vinton, fearing an outbreak of violence, deputized a considerable number of its citizens to act as special police. All were sworn in and gave bonds. They were instructed to go unarmed and prevent violence; they were also advised that it was lawful to strike and that peaceable picketing was permitted. The defendant knew of the precautions being taken.

On Monday, April 20th, an attempt was made to bring into the plant workers who were not strikers and who wanted to return to their jobs. As early as 6:30 A. M. an effort was made to transport them into the plant. The special deputies were there to maintain order. Defendant was there and knew of the purpose of the officers and the effort to get the workers into the plant. There was evidence that the night before defendant was seen distributing clubs to some of the pickets and was heard to tell the pickets that Monday morning some four hundred farmers armed with pitchforks were coming in and that they had to be ready for them. When the various workers not on strike sought to enter the plant, defendant was there moving about among the pickets and their sympathizers giving directions. Some of the pickets carried rocks, bricks and clubs. Both Noeller and Abernathy were there armed with clubs. The special deputies were there attempting to get the workers into the plant. As a truck and cars carrying employees sought

[18 N.W.2d 172]

to enter the plant, the pickets formed in line to prevent their entrance. There were about twenty persons of both sexes in the truck. At that time defendant was out in front and was seen carrying a large stone. As the vehicles escorted by special officers approached, the defendant threw a stone or some missile at the truck and this was followed by a general fusilade of bricks and stones. Many of such were later found in the truck; car windshields and windows were broken or shattered and the bodies dented. The fighting brcame general. Defendant was seen running about giving signals and directions, while Noeller and Abernathy were wielding their clubs striking various people knocking them down and injuring them. Some of the group received serious and painful injuries necessitating medical attention. One had a skull fracture. About the time the rioting ceased, defendant addressing some of his group, was heard to say, ‘Folks you have done a good job.’ There were other facts and circumstances in the record which the jury could properly take into consideration in passing upon the charge.

While there were contradictions and conflicts in the evidence, yet we think there was sufficient to establish the foregoing.

III. The term ‘conspiracy’ has often been defined. The Supreme Court of Kentucky in Commonwealth v. Donoghue, 250 Ky. 343, 63 S.W.2d 3, 5, 89 A.L.R. 819, defined it: ‘But the broad definition or description everywhere accepted is that conspiracy is a combination between two or more persons to do or accomplish a criminal or unlawful act, or to do a lawful act by criminal or unlawful means.’

Regarding the evidence necessary to establish the crime of conspiracy it has been held that the general rules of admissibility of evidence in criminal cases apply, and any competent evidence, direct or circumstantial, including acts and declarations of the parties themselves is admissible. 15 C.J.S., Conspiracy, § 92, p. 1140. The guilt of the accused must be established beyond a reasonable doubt; but circumstantial evidence alone may be sufficient to sustain a conviction. 15 C.J.S., Conspiracy, § 92, p. 1146. There are cited as sustaining the above: State v. Moore, 217 Iowa 872, 251 N.W. 737;State v. Lowenberg, 216 Iowa 222, 243 N.W. 538;State v. Hartman, 213 Iowa 546, 239 N.W. 107;State v. Terry, 207 Iowa 916, 223 N.W. 870;State v. Priebe, 198 Iowa 609, 199 N.W. 276;Boom v. Boom, 206 Iowa 70, 220 N.W. 17. An actual agreement to enter into a conspiracy need not be proved by direct evidence to warrant conviction for such crime. A prima facie case may be made out by the acts and declarations of the defendant himself. State v. Caine, 134 Iowa 147, 111 N.W. 443; State v. Moore, supra; State v. Stevens, 67 Iowa 557, 25 N.W. 777.State v. Gadbois, 89 Iowa 25, 56 N.W. 272. In State v. Moore, supra (conspiracy), the defendant Moore and another were indicted and convicted in connection with the resistance to the law providing for the testing of cows for tuberculosis. There the court held the crime could be shown by circumstantial as well as direct evidence and that it was the province of the court to determine the order in which the evidence should be introduced. State v. Paden, 199 Iowa 383, 202 N.W. 105;State v. Walker, 124 Iowa 414, 100 N.W. 354;State v. Arthur, 135 Iowa 48, 109 N.W. 1083;State v. Schreck, 231 Iowa 542, 1 N.W.2d 690, 694. In the Schreck case this court said: ‘The fact of conspiracy may be established by circumstantial evidence. It is sufficient if there is proof of concert of action. This is true in the administration of both civil and criminal law. Hanson v. Kline, 136 Iowa 101, 113 N.W. 504;State v. Arthur, 135 Iowa 48, 109 N.W. 1083.’ The above quotation was taken from a holding of this court in the case of State v. Priebe, supra.

‘Conspiracies need not be established by direct evidence of facts charged. They may, and generally must, be proved by a number of indefinite acts,...

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27 practice notes
  • State v. Hofer, No. 46993.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • July 29, 1947
    ...to kill considered in Division IX hereof. If defendant desired more explicit instructions he should have requested them. State v. Schenk, 236 Iowa 178, 194, 195, 18 N.W.2d 169, 177, and cases cited; State v. Hessenius, 165 Iowa 415, 433, 146 N.W. 58, L.R.A.1915A, 1078. Different parts of th......
  • State v. Blyth, Nos. 55974
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • February 19, 1975
    ...or unlawful act, or do a lawful act in an unlawful manner.' State v. Jennings, 195 N.W.2d 351, 356 (Iowa 1972). See also State v. Schenk, 236 Iowa 178, 183, 18 N.W.2d 169, 172; State v. Thompson, 241 Iowa 16, 22, 39 N.W.2d 637, 641; State v. Keyser, 257 Iowa 73, 79, 130 N.W.2d 701, 704; and......
  • State v. Baker, No. 48355
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • September 21, 1954
    ...to the alleged alibi in its charge.' This ruling was cited in State v. Brandenberger, 151 Iowa 197, 206, 130 N.W. 1065; State v. Schenk, 236 Iowa 178, 195, 18 N.W.2d 169; State v. Hessenius, 165 Iowa 415, 433, 146 N.W. 58, L.R.A.1915A 1078; State v. Poder, 154 Iowa 686, 690, 135 N.W. 421; S......
  • State v. Kittelson, No. 52889
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • January 14, 1969
    ...or for the purpose of showing preparation. State v. Bales, 246 Iowa 446, 450--451, 68 N.W.2d 95, 97--98 and citations. 'State v. Schenk, 236 Iowa 178, 191--193, 18 N.W.2d 169, 175--176, approves the rule Page 168 just stated with the amplification that instruments known or conceded not to h......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
27 cases
  • State v. Hofer, No. 46993.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • July 29, 1947
    ...to kill considered in Division IX hereof. If defendant desired more explicit instructions he should have requested them. State v. Schenk, 236 Iowa 178, 194, 195, 18 N.W.2d 169, 177, and cases cited; State v. Hessenius, 165 Iowa 415, 433, 146 N.W. 58, L.R.A.1915A, 1078. Different parts of th......
  • State v. Baker, No. 48355
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • September 21, 1954
    ...to the alleged alibi in its charge.' This ruling was cited in State v. Brandenberger, 151 Iowa 197, 206, 130 N.W. 1065; State v. Schenk, 236 Iowa 178, 195, 18 N.W.2d 169; State v. Hessenius, 165 Iowa 415, 433, 146 N.W. 58, L.R.A.1915A 1078; State v. Poder, 154 Iowa 686, 690, 135 N.W. 421; S......
  • State v. Blyth, Nos. 55974
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • February 19, 1975
    ...or unlawful act, or do a lawful act in an unlawful manner.' State v. Jennings, 195 N.W.2d 351, 356 (Iowa 1972). See also State v. Schenk, 236 Iowa 178, 183, 18 N.W.2d 169, 172; State v. Thompson, 241 Iowa 16, 22, 39 N.W.2d 637, 641; State v. Keyser, 257 Iowa 73, 79, 130 N.W.2d 701, 704; and......
  • State v. Kittelson, No. 52889
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • January 14, 1969
    ...or for the purpose of showing preparation. State v. Bales, 246 Iowa 446, 450--451, 68 N.W.2d 95, 97--98 and citations. 'State v. Schenk, 236 Iowa 178, 191--193, 18 N.W.2d 169, 175--176, approves the rule Page 168 just stated with the amplification that instruments known or conceded not to h......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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