Thursday, November 21, 2013

State v. Tally case brief

State v. Tally case brief summary
15 So. 722 (Ala. 1894)

An impeachment proceeding against respondent judge of the Ninth Judicial Circuit (Alabama) was commenced by an information filed on the part of the state by the attorney-general, the first count charging willful neglect of duty while in office, in that the judge had the opportunity to intervene in his official capacity to prevent a murder and willfully failed and neglected to do so. The second count charged complicity in the murder.


  • In removing the judge from office, the court recognized the rule of conviction beyond a reasonable doubt was applicable. 
  • As the judge had no actual knowledge of the intent of the murderers at the time they left his presence to accomplish their deed, he was to be not guilty of the charge of willfully neglecting his duty as a magistrate in not exercising the power the law had clothed him with to stay their hands. 
  • However, the court found him guilty of the charge of aiding and abetting the murder, as when he had full knowledge of their intentions, he kept a watch and sent a message preventing a warning from reaching the victim. 
  • The court held that one could be guilty of murder by aiding and abetting if his actions prevented the deceased from exercising one final chance at survival, even though it was likely that the result would have been the same without his actions. 
  • He was constructively present, and thus guilty. The court specified that their conclusion was not to influence criminal murder charges still pending.

The court did not find that the judge had any knowledge of the intention of the killers before or at the time of their departure and therefore the first count was proved, so that he was not guilty of the charge of willful neglect of official duty. The court found that he aided and abetted the murder and adjudged that he was guilty of murder, so that judgment deposing him from office was entered.

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