Sunday, November 17, 2013

Brown v. State case brief

Brown v. State case brief summary
106 N.W. 536 (Wis. 1906)

Defendant brought a writ of error to review a judgment from the Circuit Court for La Fayette County (Wisconsin), which convicted defendant for rape and sentenced him to 10 years in the state reformatory. Defendant also sought review of the trial court's order denying his motion to set aside the verdict and for a new trial for insufficiency of evidence and improper influence upon the jury.

Defendant and the prosecutrix had known each other all their lives and had previously had direct personal contact in games involving "kissing forfeits." The prosecutrix testified at defendant's rape trial that she screamed and tried to escape, but made no mention of any use of her hands or legs to prevent intercourse. She told her grandmother after she discovered blood. There were no marks on either party or their clothing that indicated a struggle. Defendant claimed the sex was consensual.


  • Reversing the conviction and sentence, the court held that without corroboration, such as signs and marks of the struggle upon the clothing and persons of the participants and the victim's complaint at the earliest opportunity, the prosecutrix's testimony was not clear and convincing enough to support a guilty verdict. 
  • The court found that an officer's warning to the jurors that they would be locked in if they did not reach a verdict soon was threatening and coercive, given the jurors' belief that they would be required to stay in the smoke-filled room where they had been deliberating, and that jurors' affidavits were admissible to prove the physical conditions and the officer's statement.

The court reversed the judgment and sentence and remanded the cause for a new trial.

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