State v. Young, No. 17768

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
Writing for the CourtTAYLOR
Citation238 S.C. 115,119 S.E.2d 504
Docket NumberNo. 17768
Decision Date18 April 1961
PartiesSTATE, Respondent, v. Ray Landy YOUNG, Appellant.

Page 504

119 S.E.2d 504
238 S.C. 115
STATE, Respondent,
v.
Ray Landy YOUNG, Appellant.
No. 17768.
Supreme Court of South Carolina.
April 18, 1961.

Page 505

[238 S.C. 117] Clarence Cappell, Leo H. Hill, Greenville, for appellant.

[238 S.C. 118] James R. Mann, Sol., Greenville, for respondent.

TAYLOR, Justice.

Appellant was tried and convicted at the October, 1959, Term of General Sessions Court for Greenville County, of [238 S.C. 119] the charge

Page 506

of having murdered one John Kehayas and sentenced to be executed.

All prospective jurors were placed upon their individual voir dire. The defense, at that time, requested that the following question be asked the prospective jurors: 'If it develops under the testimony and evidence that the defendant is guilty of murder, would the fact that he is a Negro stand in your way in determining a recommendation to mercy?' This request was refused by the trial Judge.

The Statutory questions contained in Sec. 38-202, Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1952, were propounded to each juror individually; and after each juror was examined on his voir dire, if found to be qualified by the presiding Judge, he would state: 'Unless there is some other question the juror is qualified.' Upon occasion other questions were propounded, but the trial Judge refused the above-quoted request, stating that the question presupposed the guilt of the accused and further that the Court's examination would cover the request.

In accord with one of the provisions of Sec. 38-202, supra, inquiry was made of each prospective juror as to whether he had expressed or formed any opinion or was sensible of any bias or prejudice therein. In each case this question was answered in the negative; therefore, each juror stated that he was not sensible of any bias or prejudice for any cause. The question of the impartiality of the juror is addressed to the discretion of the trial Judge; State v. Prater, 26 S.C. 198, 21 S.E. 108; and the scope of inquiry on voir dire is within the sound discretion of the Circuit Judge, State v. Carson, 131 S.C. 42, 126 S.E. 757; State v. Nance, 25 S.C. 168; and he has the exclusive power to determine a juror's competency and a finding on such is not reviewable except for error of law, South Carolina Constitution, 1895, Art. 5, Sec. 4; State v. Faries, 125 S.C. 281, 118 S.E. 620. If the question of the indifference of a juror is a mere question of fact, it is not reviewable upon [238 S.C. 120] appeal, State v. Haines, 36 S.C. 504, 15 S.E. 555; State v. Robertson, 54 S.C. 147, 31 S.E. 868; State v. Fuller, 229 S.C. 439, 93 S.E.2d 463; unless the conclusion of the trial Judge is wholly unsupported by the evidence, State v. Williamson, 65 S.C. 242, 43 S.E. 671; State v. Mittle, 120 S.C. 526, 113 S.E. 335. If there is evidence, however, tending to support the finding of the juror's competency, there is no error of law, State v. Faries, supra.

In State v. Bethune, 86 S.C. 143, 67 S.E. 466, 468, defense counsel requested that the following question by propounded to the proposed juror: 'Whether, in spite of the fact that the defendant at the bar is a negro, he would be influenced thereby in passing on the evidence.' This request was refused and this Court held that there was no error as the trial Judge had already questioned the jurors as provided in the statute; and in the later case by the same title, reported in 93 S.C. 195, 75 S.E. 281, 282, the Court stated with respect to this same question: 'The juror had already sworn that he was not conscious of any prejudice or bias for or against the prisoner. Therefore his answer to the proposed question if he had been allowed to answer must have been in the negative.'

In instant case the defendant, a Negro, was present, of course, at the time and the fact that he was a Negro was obvious to all. Each prospective juror stated that he was not sensible of any bias or prejudice. The trial Judge felt that it would have been improper to submit the proffered question for the reason that it presupposed his guilt and further that the statutory questions fully covered the subject. Their answer that they were not conscious of any bias or prejudice could mean only that they were not conscious of any bias or prejudice for any cause. The statutory questions encompassed the request, and we find no abuse of discretion amounting to error of law in refusing the question as presented.

Page 507

Defendant next contends that the Court erred in propounding additional questions to two of the prospective [238 S.C. 121] jurors with respect to their understanding of the term 'capital punishment.' The prospective jurors, M. Goodwin, Jr., and T. B. Earle, both Negroes, were the fourth and fifth jurors examined on their voir dire. While Goodwin was being so questioned, the following transpired:

'Q. Do you know of anything which would embarrass you, if you are chosen to serve as a juror? A. No, sir.

'Q. Are you opposed to capital punishment? A. No, sir.

'Q. You know what capital punishment is? A. I do.

'Q. Well, are you opposed to capital punishment? A. Yes, sir.

'Q. Are you opposed to capital punishment? A. I'm not.

'Q. Now, you said yes and you said no. Now, do you understand what capital punishment is? A. I understand what it is.

'Q. What is it? A. Capital punishment is where a defendant is found guilty.

'Q. Capital punishment is provided, I'll explain it to you, in certain cases, for instance rape or murder, if a defendant is found guilty as charged and not recommended to the mercy of the Court, then the punishment provided for in such cases is death by electrocution. That's what is meant by capital punishment. Now, I ask you do you understand what's meant by capital punishment? A. Yes, sir.

'Q. Well, now are you opposed to capital punishment? You know what opposed means? Are you against it? A. I'm not against it.

'Q. Well, would you then if the evidence warranted it, would you under those conditions vote for a verdict of guilty if it meant electrocution? A. Yes, sir.

'Q. You would? A. Yes.

'Q. Unless there is some other question, the juror is qualified.

'Clerk of Court: What says the State?

'Solicitor Mann: Excuse him.'

[238 S.C. 122] Upon examination of the prospective juror, Earle, the following transpired:

'Q. Are you opposed to capital punishment? A. No, sir.

'Q. You understand what capital punishment means? A. I think I do.

'Q. Well, I didn't ask you if you thought. Tell me what it is. What is it? What's your idea about capital punishment? A. I think it's giving the, if he's guilty say so and if he's not guilty, say he's not; we're not supposed to try--we're supposed to be square about it.

'Q. Of course, you're supposed to be fair; but here's what the punishment means under the law. In certain cases such as murder and rape the law provides that if you or I, for instance, were charged with rape or certain crimes and we were convicted straight out the punishment for that is death by electrocution unless the jury recommends mercy. So then if you are chosen as a juror on this case and the evidence should be such or may be such as to warrant a jury in finding defendant guilty of murder, which would mean death by electrocution, would you be opposed to that or would you be in favor of such verdict? A. In favor.

'Q. You would be in favor of it? In other words, if the testimony showed in any given case that the defendant should be electrocuted then you would

Page 508

not be opposed, is that right? A. No, sir, I would not be opposed.

'Q. You would not be opposed. Very well, unless there is some other question I think the juror is qualified.

'Clerk of Court: What says the State?

'Solicitor Mann: Excuse him.

'Clerk of Court: Just go back and have a seat, T. B.'

The questions complained of became necessary by reason of the confusing or unsatisfactory replies to the questions necessarily propounded in order to determine the juror's qualifications. The scope of inquiry relative thereto was a matter within the discretion of the trial Judge, and we see no abuse thereof. Further, both having [238 S.C. 123] been excused by the State, defendant could not have possibly suffered any prejudice thereby.

Exceptions III and IV present the question of whether the Court erred in admitting the written confession of defendant into evidence and oral testimony explaining its form and substance and the circumstances surrounding its taking. There is no presumption of law that a confession by a defendant is voluntarily given and the burden is upon the State to prove that the proffered confession was voluntarily given, State v. Branham, 13 S.C. 389; State v. Workman, 15 S.C. 540; State v. Carson, 36 S.C. 524, 15 S.E. 588; State v. Rogers, 99 S.C. 504, 83 S.E. 971; State v. Fuller, 227 S.C. 138, 87 S.E.2d 287; State v. Chasteen, 228 S.C. 88, 88 S.E.2d 880; State v. Bullock, 235 S.C. 356, 111 S.E.2d 675. The circumstances necessary to prove the voluntary nature of a given confession vary with the individual case. The disclosure of the circumstances surrounding taking of a confession is often necessary to determine whether the confession was given voluntarily, and it is not error to propound proper questions. We see no error in the questions propounded with respect to the circumstances under which the confession was obtained.

Defendant specifically objects to the testimony of the police officer, L. W. Hammond. An examination of this testimony reveals that it principally dealt with conversations had with defendant prior to the giving of the written confession and his testimony in no way materially varied the written confession.

As to the form, it appears that the confession was taken by one inexperienced in such matters, and the words of the arresting officer are not set off in a separate paragraph from those of defendant. However, upon examination it is evident to any one able to read and understand just which statements were made by the officer and where the confession of...

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8 practice notes
  • State v. Torrence, No. 23403
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • May 1, 1989
    ...175 (1961); State v. Robinson, 238 S.C. 140, 119 S.E.2d 671 (1961); State v. Thorne, 239 S.C. 164, 121 S.E.2d 623 (1961); State v. Young, 238 S.C. 115, 119 S.E.2d 504 (1961); State v. Britt, 237 S.C. 293, 117 S.E.2d 379 (1960); State v. Johnson, 236 S.C. 207, 113 S.E.2d 540 (1960); State v.......
  • State v. Johnson, No. 18532
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • July 14, 1966
    ...or error of law. Elliott v. Black River Electric Cooperative, 233 S.C. 233, 104 S.E.2d 357, 74 A.L.R.2d 907. In State Page 353 v. Young, 238 S.C. 115, 119 S.E.2d 504, we '* * * The question of the impartiality of the juror is addressed to the discretion of the trial Judge; State v. Prater, ......
  • State v. Dingle, No. 21966
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • July 28, 1983
    ...accord, State v. Bostick, 253 S.C. 205, 169 S.E.2d 608 (1969); State v. Johnson, 248 S.C. 153, 149 S.E.2d 348 (1966); and State v. Young, 238 S.C. 115, 119 S.E.2d 504 (1961). Where jurors unequivocally state that a fair trial can be given, there is no abuse of discretion in the trial court'......
  • State v. Attardo, No. 19951
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • January 28, 1975
    ...Although there is no case directly on point in South Carolina, the dicta in several cases afford the same conclusion. In State v. Young, 238 S.C. 115, 119 S.E.2d 504 (1961) error was claimed in the instruction to the jury in that it might have given the inference that the burden of proof wa......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • State v. Torrence, No. 23403
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • May 1, 1989
    ...175 (1961); State v. Robinson, 238 S.C. 140, 119 S.E.2d 671 (1961); State v. Thorne, 239 S.C. 164, 121 S.E.2d 623 (1961); State v. Young, 238 S.C. 115, 119 S.E.2d 504 (1961); State v. Britt, 237 S.C. 293, 117 S.E.2d 379 (1960); State v. Johnson, 236 S.C. 207, 113 S.E.2d 540 (1960); State v.......
  • State v. Johnson, No. 18532
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • July 14, 1966
    ...or error of law. Elliott v. Black River Electric Cooperative, 233 S.C. 233, 104 S.E.2d 357, 74 A.L.R.2d 907. In State Page 353 v. Young, 238 S.C. 115, 119 S.E.2d 504, we '* * * The question of the impartiality of the juror is addressed to the discretion of the trial Judge; State v. Prater, ......
  • State v. Dingle, No. 21966
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • July 28, 1983
    ...accord, State v. Bostick, 253 S.C. 205, 169 S.E.2d 608 (1969); State v. Johnson, 248 S.C. 153, 149 S.E.2d 348 (1966); and State v. Young, 238 S.C. 115, 119 S.E.2d 504 (1961). Where jurors unequivocally state that a fair trial can be given, there is no abuse of discretion in the trial court'......
  • State v. Attardo, No. 19951
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of South Carolina
    • January 28, 1975
    ...Although there is no case directly on point in South Carolina, the dicta in several cases afford the same conclusion. In State v. Young, 238 S.C. 115, 119 S.E.2d 504 (1961) error was claimed in the instruction to the jury in that it might have given the inference that the burden of proof wa......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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