HOLT V. UNITED STATES, 218 U. S. 245 (1910)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Holt v. United States, 218 U.S. 245 (1910)

Holt v. United States

No. 231

Argued October 13, 14, 1910

Decided October 31, 1910

218 U.S. 245


Where the acts constituting the assault are alleged to have been made feloniously and with malice aforethought, it is not necessary to make such allegations in the preliminary averment of assault.

Quaere, and not necessary to be decided in this case, how far, if at all, the court is warranted in inquiring into the nature of the evidence on which the grand jury acts, and how far in case of such inquiry the discretion of the trial court is subject to review.

Indictments should not be upset because some evidence, in its nature competent, but rendered incompetent by circumstances, was considered along with other evidence.

Unless the error is manifest the reviewing court should not set aside the finding of the trial court refusing to sustain a challenge of a juryman for cause on the ground of partiality or expressed opinions.

Although the more conservative course is to exclude the jury during discussions of admissibility of confessions, in the absence of statutory provision, it is within the discretion of the trial judge to allow the jury to remain, and where, as in this case, he cautions the jury that the preliminary evidence has no bearing on the question to be decided, it is not error to do so.

In this case, the ruling of the trial court that the district attorney was not guilty of misconduct in making statements in his opening as to voluntary confessions of the accused sustained.

In considering a motion for new trial in a capital case on the ground that the jury was allowed to separate during the trial and that, during the separation, they saw newspaper articles bearing on the case, the court may, if it is going to deny the motion, assume that the jurors did read the articles, and the discretion of the trial court in denying the motion will not be reviewed in the absence of any conclusive ground that he was wrong, notwithstanding the more conservative course is not to allow the jury to separate in such cases.

In this case, the objections to evidence identifying the military reservation

Page 218 U. S. 246

on which a capital crime was alleged to have been committed, including introduction of deeds and condemnation proceedings, were properly overruled, and quaere whether the United states is called on to try title to a reservation where it is in de facto exercise of exclusive jurisdiction.

The prohibition of the Fifth Amendment against compelling a man to give evidence against himself is a prohibition of the use of physical or moral compulsion to extort communications from him, and not an exclusion of his body as evidence when it is material, and so held that testimony of a witness that the accused put on a garment and it fitted him is admissible, whether the accused had put on the garment voluntarily or under duress.

In this case, the charge and instructions of the trial court as to legal presumptions of innocence and what constitutes a reasonable doubt held to be correct.

The facts, which involve the validity of a conviction for murder committed on a military reservation of the United States, are stated in the opinion.

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