« ZurückWeiter »
try the case because other cases are being tried ;—then if the State can convince the court that due exertions have been made to procure the evidence, etc; that there are reasonable grounds to believe that such evidence may be procured at the third term, it shall have power to continue such case till the third term;" but if not, what becomes of the case? Suppose, however, that under any construction of the statute that three or four full terms expire, then surely 'the prisoner is to be discharged. Now, under this statute, as it reads, a prisoner may be kept in jail in any county in the State of Illinois, outside of Cook County, for at least one year and a half, if not two years, without any exertion on the part of anybody, and without the prisoner being allowed to go free; while in Cook County if he is kept in jail three months, he may demand his discharge. The cases of Brooks v. The People, 88 Ill., 329; Gallagher v. The People, 88 Ill., 337, when properly understood, show just the difficulties we have above alluded to, and the statute ought not to exist a day without amendment. There are times in the criminal history of Cook County when the influx of criminals from other States and counties is such, that the business cannot be kept up by any two judges sitting in continuous session, and the time afforded to do the business ought at least to be as great here as in any other county.
When a single murder trial consumes a month, and when a single grand jury brings in 249 indictments in one month, some idea of the magnitude of the business and obstructions which occasionally ensue, can be obtained.
2. There is no law in this State making it a crime to forge a decree of divorce. This ought to be remedied.-(See Brown v. The People, 86 Ill., 239.)
As things are at the present day, a man may be deprived of his wife by any one skilled in stylography, and become an “orphan” before he knows it.
3. There is a disproportion in the punishment in the crimes of burglary and robbery.
Burglary is punished by confinement in the penitentiary, not less than one or more than twenty years, while simple robbery is not less than one or more than fourteen years. It is true
that the statute provides that if the person wis armed with a dangerous weapon with intent, if resisted, to kill or maim such person, or being so armed, he wounds or strikes him, or if he has any confederate present so armed, to aid or abet him,
be imprisoned for any term of years, or for life.” But this does not always appear in cases of highway robbery, and robbery from the person by violence should be as severely punished as stealing from the house or building in the night time.
4. Amend Sec. 110 of the criminal law, so that in all cases of larceny, burglary or any crime committed against a corporation its existence may be proved by general reputation.(Wharton's Criminal Ev., Sec. 164 a; Wharton's Criminal Pl. & Prac. Sec. 110.)
HABITUAL CRIMINAL ACT.-The 169th Sec. of the criminal code, which provides that in order to convict a person of a second offense, the “former conviction and judgment shall be set forth in apt words in the indictment” should be amended so as to dispense with any such thing whatever. . In no other case that we ever heard of was it necessary to plead the evidence in the case, and it is perfectly useless and a most unnecessary piece of labor.
Every writer upon evidence holds to the doctrine that the same rules of evidence apply in criminal as in civil cases, and Roscoe in his work on "Criminal Evidence" asserts this in the very opening sentence of his treatise. We think that the same provision of the statute in substance which exists in regard to evidence in civil cases-should be made to apply to criminal cases, and the section as adapted to criminal cases should be made to read “that no person shall be disqualified as a witness in any action, suit, criminal proceeding or criminal prosecution whatever, carried on in the name of the people, by reason of his or her interest in the event thereof as a party or otherwise or by reason of his conviction of any crime or misdemeanor; but such interest or conviction may be shown for the purpose of affecting the credibility of such witness or for the purpose of establishing the fact that a party has been convicted of a prior offense when he is being prosecuted for said
secoầd offense, and the fact of such conviction or his having been incarcerated in the penitentiary, workhouse or bridewell, may be proven like any fact not of record either by the witness himself or any other witness cognizant of such conviction, as impeaching testimony or by any other competent evidence.”
The case of Bartholomew v. The People, 104 Ill. 607, is a most perfect illustration of the necessity of some such provision as we have above set forth. In that case the court held, contrary to what they did in the case of Chase v. The People, 40 III. 355, that the presence of the defendant in the peniteu tiary even, could not be shown, but that before this matter could be even gone into, the State must show a conviction, and in order to a conviction they must produce a full and complete record of the court that convicted him, or an authenticated copy thereof, including the caption, the indictment by the grand jury, the return of the indictment into court, the arraignment of the defendant, his plea, his trial, verdict, conviction, sentence and judgment. We wonder that they did not require the production of the witnesses, and the presence of the court and jury in order to establish the identity and remove all possibility of doubt. The statement of this case will in our judgment show the absurdity of the present practice, and will, moreover, account for the reason why it is that prosecutions do not oftener take place in the case of old offenders under the habitual criminal act.
The next thing that we would do would be to amend Sec. 110 of the criminal code, so that in all cases of larceny, burglary, embezzlement, or any other crime against a corporation its existence may be proved by general reputation.
CHALLENGIXG JURORS FOR READING NEWSPAPERS.-Sec. 14 of the jury law, which enumerates the cause of challenge should be amended by striking out the words "about the truth of which he has expressed no opinion” in the latter part of the section, so that it shall read as follows: "That in the trial of any criminal cause, the fact that a person, called as a juror, has formed an opinion or impression based on rumor, or upon newspaper statement, shall not disqualify him to serve as a juror in such case, if he shall, upon oath, state that he believes he
can fairly and impartially render a verdict therein, in accordance with the law and the evidence, and the court shall be satisfied with the truth of such statement." The words "about the truth of which he has expressed no opinion" are found in practice to be nothing but a source of trouble and confusion, and add nothing whatever to the sanctity of conscience nor the security of defendant's rights.
They are found in no other statute upon the subject that we are aware of, and should be stricken out. It is not necessary that a juror should be a saint or an angel, and all that any one charged with a crime can demand is to be tried by jurors as fair and impartial as the lot of humanity allows. Every body that is not an idiot reads the newspaper, and may form an impression about anything he reads, but if a man can swear on his oath that he has no fixed opinion, and has no prejudice or bias, and that whatever he had read would not influence and control his judgment against the evidence produced at the trial, and he could go into the jury box and render a verdict according to the facts as given on the trial, without regard to what he had heard or read before, and that he could fairly and impartially judge the case according to the law and evidence, ought to be regarded as a competent juror, anywhere and everywhere.-(Wilson v. The People, 94 Ill., 305-6; Plummer v. The People, 74 Ill., 366; Abbot v. The People, 86 N. Y., 465.)
In no case should it be a ground of error sufficient to reverse a case because counsel are restricted in their examination of jurors. This matter should above all things, be within the discretion of the court.
In no State in the American Union, neither in Canada nor England, nor anywhere else on earth, is there such latitude allowed and such an examination into the life and times and into the mental, moral, physical and metaphysical condition of jurors, as in this State.
Intelligence in jurors should not be regarded as a disqualification, but yet that is the ruling in criminal cases.
No better illustration can be given than this: A shrewd criminal lawyer, who was in great fear of obtaining a juror
who had a fixed opinion, after spending some time in interrogating him upon every subject he could think of, proceeded as follows:
Counsel :- Are you a member of any church?
Counsel :- Would you convict a man on doubtful and uusatisfactory evidence?
Counsel :-Suppose the evidence is equally balanced, what then would you do?
Counsel :—Have you fixed an opinion about the merits of this case?
Counsel :—Is your mind so porous that it can leach out all the facts, memory, impression and sense of justice?
Counsel:—Would you acknowledge on due evidence that you were not yourself, but somebody else?
Counsel :-Are you sure, without due legal proof, that it is I who am speaking to you now?
Juror:-I am not.
Counsel :-You assume that this is the year 1888, A. D. but are open to the conviction, on due and sufficient evidence, that it may be 1882 B. C., are you not?
Counsel :-But, on due and sufficient evidence being produced, you would, even in this respect, be willing to admit jou might be mistaken?