State v. Wickett, No. 45705.

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Iowa
Writing for the CourtBLISS
Citation300 N.W. 268,230 Iowa 1182
PartiesSTATE v. WICKETT.
Docket NumberNo. 45705.
Decision Date21 October 1941

230 Iowa 1182
300 N.W. 268

STATE
v.
WICKETT.

No. 45705.

Supreme Court of Iowa.

Oct. 21, 1941.


Appeal from District Court, Warren County; J. R. Leary, Judge.

A criminal action in which the defendant was charged, in count one of the indictment, with forging the name, “R. Myers,” on a Standard Oil Company sales-ticket purporting to show the purchase, on credit, of merchandise, by Myers, and, in count two, with uttering said instrument. At the close of the State's evidence, a verdict of “not guilty” was returned by the jury, on both counts, at the direction of the court. The State has appealed. Without in any way disturbing the verdict and judgment of acquittal, the judgment is reversed on the propositions of law included in the appeal.

[300 N.W. 269]

John M. Rankin, Atty. Gen., Jens Grothe, Asst. Atty. Gen., and M. D. Hall, Co. Atty., of Indianola, for appellant.

S. E. Prall, of Indianola, for appellee.


BLISS, Justice.

The defendant, for a number of years preceding November, 1938, operated a bulk station for the sale on commission, of petroleum products of the Standard Oil Company at the town of New Virginia, in Warren County, Iowa. It is contended by the State that in the year 1938, the defendant turned in to the agency of the Standard Oil Company, at Des Moines, a number of sales tickets showing purported sales of the company's products, on credit, upon which he would receive commissions, when in fact he had made no such sales, and had forged the signatures of the claimed purchasers on the tickets. The indictment on which he was tried involved such an alleged sale to “R. Myers,” and the forging of that name upon the ticket.

The defendant alleged six grounds in his motion for a directed verdict, one of them being the insufficiency of the evidence to support a conviction on either count, and particularly the failure to establish by competent evidence that defendant forged the signature on the Myers' ticket, Exhibit “2.” On the submission of the motion, the court, speaking to the County Attorney, said: “I don't see where the defendant has been connected with Exhibit ‘2’ in any way. I don't think you showed he had anything to do with the writing of Number ‘2.’ * * * I will sustain the motion for a directed verdict.”

The State, on its appeal, has assigned six errors. Three of them are based upon the refusal of the court to receive the opinion testimony of three witnesses as to whether the defendant wrote the name “R. Myers” upon the ticket on which each count of the indictment was based. The fourth assignment is the claimed error of the court in refusing the offer of proof on the part of the State that the witnesses, Duncan and Edwards, would, if permitted, testify that from their knowledge of defendant's handwriting, gained by Duncan from having seen him write several times, and, by Edwards, from having seen him write on one occasion, which writing was introduced in evidence, the name, in their opinion, was written on the ticket by the defendant.

Assignments of error, five and six, complain of the direction of the verdict for defendant on each count.

The State may appeal from a judgment in a criminal case which is adverse to it. 1939 Code, § 13994. But there are statutory limitations upon the effect or results of that appeal. Code section 14012 provides that if the State appeals, this court cannot reverse or modify the judgment in favor of the defendant so as to increase the punishment, “but may affirm it, and shall point out any error in the proceedings or in the measure of punishment, and its decision shall be obligatory as law.”

[1][2][3][4] Since the defendant was found not guilty by the verdict of the jury, and the charges against him were dismissed, any decision we may make can in no way affect his rights or subject him to further prosecution on the charges for which he was tried. Its effect is merely an authoritative exposition of the law, which may be of service to those charged with crime, the state, the courts and lawyers for their guidance in the administration of the criminal laws, and as a precedent in future cases. Ordinarily on appeals by the state, in a criminal case, from a judgment on a directed verdict for the defendant, involving the sufficiency of the evidence to establish the charge, this court will not review the record to determine the correctness of the decision. A pronouncement of this court on the fact situation in one case could rarely serve any good purpose in the determination of any case in

[300 N.W. 270]

the future. Such appeals by the state are useless. While the matter of the sufficiency or the insufficiency of the evidence is a question of law, this court will refuse to review the record where it will benefit no one. But in many of such cases, the Attorney General has appealed in order to procure the consideration of certain rulings, and the settlement of specified propositions of law. Cases in which the foregoing propositions have been passed upon are State v. Woodruff, 208 Iowa 236, 225 N.W. 254;State v. Little, 210 Iowa 371, 228 N.W. 67;State v. Friend, 213 Iowa 544, 239 N.W. 132;State v. Traas, 230 Iowa 826, 298 N.W. 862;State v. Meyer, 203 Iowa 694, 213 N.W. 220;State v. Johnson, 157 Iowa 248, 138 N.W. 458;State v. Fairmont Creamery Co., 153 Iowa 702, 133 N.W. 895, 42 L.R.A.,N.S., 821; State v. Jackson, 128 Iowa 543, 105 N.W. 51;State v. Keeler, 28 Iowa 551;State v. Ward, 75 Iowa 637, 36 N.W. 765;State v. Miller, 81 Iowa 72, 46 N.W. 751;State v. Gilbert, 138 Iowa 335, 116 N.W. 142;State v. Kulough, Iowa, 133 N.W. 706 (Not reported in Iowa Reports); Town of Scranton v. Hensen, 151 Iowa 221, 130 N.W. 1079;State v. Bell, Iowa, 242 N.W. 401 (Not reported in Iowa Reports); State v. Johnson, 200 Iowa 324, 204 N.W. 273; and State v. Drain, 205 Iowa 581, 218 N.W. 269.

While the court in this case based its direction of a verdict upon the claimed failure of the State to establish matters of fact, the State claims that this failure was caused by errors of law on the part of the court in the rejection of testimony and offers of proof.

The first assignment of error is in the rejection of the opinion testimony of the witness, Duncan. This witness had been a salesman for the Standard Oil Company for five years. He was acquainted with defendant since 1937 and had seen him twice a month over a period of about a year. He assisted in auditing his accounts, checking over and making a report of his sales as shown by his books and tickets, in September and November, 1938. The defendant produced his tickets for the purpose of the audit. He testified that he had seen the defendant write several times. He had these tickets before him in the audit.

The County Attorney asked this question, “I call your attention to the words ‘R. Myers' on Exhibit ‘2’ and ask you to state whether or not you have any opinion as to whether that is in Mr. Wickett's handwriting?” Defendant's objection to this preliminary question that it called for an opinion and conclusion of the witness, and that the witness was not...

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11 practice notes
  • State v. Wardenburg, No. 52587
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 9, 1968
    ...of the evidence is a question of law, this court will refuse to review the record where it will benefit no one. State v. Wickett, 230 Iowa 1182, 1185, 300 N.W. 268, 269--270. In other words, to review an appeal by the State some general benefit or guide to the trial courts or profession mus......
  • Iowa v. Buckley, No. 1--56537
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • August 29, 1975
    ...(1946); State v. Kellison, 233 Iowa 1274, 11 N.W.2d 371 (1943); State v. Schreck, 231 Iowa 542, 1 N.W.2d 690 (1942); State v. Wickett, 230 Iowa 1182, 300 N.W. 268 (1941); State v. Traas, 230 Iowa 826, 298 N.W. 862 (1941); State v. Woodruff, 208 Iowa 236, 225 N.W. 254 (1929); State v. Patton......
  • Renter v. Renter (In re Renter's Estate), No. 32279.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • November 7, 1947
    ...to in Buttman v. Christy, first above cited, also to Brien v. Davidson, 225 Iowa 595, 281 N.W. 150,282 N.W. 480; and State v. Wickett, 230 Iowa 1182, 300 N.W. 268. Proponent likewise cites Johnston v. Linder, 168 Iowa 441, 143 N.W. 410, and sets out a quotation found therein taken from Murp......
  • State v. Marcum, No. 48297
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • January 12, 1954
    ...state may appeal from a judgment in a criminal case which is adverse to it. Section 793.20, Code of Iowa 1950, I.C.A.; State v. Wickett, 230 Iowa 1182, 300 N.W. 268, and cases cited therein; State v. Traas, 230 Iowa 826, 298 N.W. 862, and cases cited therein. But this right is subject to ce......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
11 cases
  • State v. Wardenburg, No. 52587
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • April 9, 1968
    ...of the evidence is a question of law, this court will refuse to review the record where it will benefit no one. State v. Wickett, 230 Iowa 1182, 1185, 300 N.W. 268, 269--270. In other words, to review an appeal by the State some general benefit or guide to the trial courts or profession mus......
  • Iowa v. Buckley, No. 1--56537
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • August 29, 1975
    ...(1946); State v. Kellison, 233 Iowa 1274, 11 N.W.2d 371 (1943); State v. Schreck, 231 Iowa 542, 1 N.W.2d 690 (1942); State v. Wickett, 230 Iowa 1182, 300 N.W. 268 (1941); State v. Traas, 230 Iowa 826, 298 N.W. 862 (1941); State v. Woodruff, 208 Iowa 236, 225 N.W. 254 (1929); State v. Patton......
  • Renter v. Renter (In re Renter's Estate), No. 32279.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • November 7, 1947
    ...to in Buttman v. Christy, first above cited, also to Brien v. Davidson, 225 Iowa 595, 281 N.W. 150,282 N.W. 480; and State v. Wickett, 230 Iowa 1182, 300 N.W. 268. Proponent likewise cites Johnston v. Linder, 168 Iowa 441, 143 N.W. 410, and sets out a quotation found therein taken from Murp......
  • State v. Marcum, No. 48297
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • January 12, 1954
    ...state may appeal from a judgment in a criminal case which is adverse to it. Section 793.20, Code of Iowa 1950, I.C.A.; State v. Wickett, 230 Iowa 1182, 300 N.W. 268, and cases cited therein; State v. Traas, 230 Iowa 826, 298 N.W. 862, and cases cited therein. But this right is subject to ce......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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