LEWIS V. UNITED STATES, 146 U. S. 370 (1892)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Lewis v. United States, 146 U.S. 370 (1892)

Lewis v. United States

No. 1018

Argued October 28, 1892

Decided December 5, 1892

146 U.S. 370


In trials for felonies, it is not in the power of the prisoner, either by himself or his counsel, to waive the right to be personally present during the trial. The making of challenges is an essential part of the trial of a person accused of crime, and it is one of his substantial rights to be brought face to face with the jurors when the challenges are made.

Though no specific exception was taken in this case by the prisoner based upon the fact that he was called upon to challenge juror not before him, a general exception, taken to the action of the court in prescribing the method of procedure was sufficient.

Where no due exception to the language of the court in instructing the jury is taken at the trial, this Court cannot consider whether the trial court went beyond the verge of propriety in its instructions.

On the trial of the case, after the accused had pleaded not guilty to the indictment, the court directed two lists of thirty-seven qualified jurymen to be made out by the clerk, one to be given to the district attorney and one to the counsel for the defendant, and further directed each side to proceed with its challenges, independently of the other and without knowledge on the part of either as to what challenges had been made by the other. To this method of proceeding the defendant at the time excepted, but was required to proceed to make his challenges. He challenged twenty persons from the list of thirty-seven persons from which he made his challenges, but in doing so he challenged three jurors who were also challenged by the government. The government challenged from the list of thirty-seven persons five persons, three of whom were the same persons challenged by the defendant. This fact was made to appear from the lists of jurors used by the government in making its

Page 146 U. S. 371

challenges and the defendant in making his challenges. To the happening of the fact that both parties challenged the same three jurors the defendant at the time objected, but the court overruled the objection and directed the jury to be called from the said two lists, impaneled and sworn, to which the defendant at the time excepted. Held that there was substantial error in this proceeding, and the judgment of guilty must be reversed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

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