Wednesday, December 4, 2013

People v. Abbott case brief

People v. Abbott case brief summary
19 Wend. (N.Y.) 192 (1838)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Defendant filed exceptions to the decisions of the Wayne General Sessions (New York), which, after the state proceeded to trial without entering a nolle prosequi on the counts charging him with the principal crime of rape, entered a jury verdict finding defendant guilty of an assault and battery only. The court excluded testimony slightly impeaching the character of the prosecutrix for truth and veracity, offered to prove her bad character.

CASE FACTS
Defendant was tried on an indictment charging him with the crime of rape, and also with an assault with the intent to commit a rape. The district attorney proceeded to the trial without entering a nolle prosequi on the counts charging the principal offense. The jury found defendant guilty of an assault and battery only. On appeal, the court ordered a retrial.

DISCUSSION
  • The court found that the question presented to the prosecutrix herself, whether she had not had previous criminal connection with other men, was proper assuming that defendant could be considered on trial either on the charge of rape, or for an assault and battery with intent to commit that crime. 
  • The court reasoned that in such a case the material issue was on the willingness or reluctance of the prosecutrix, and it went to her credibility from which the jury was asked to say she did consent. 
  • The court further reasoned that the question was very material in examining the probability of assent. 
  • The court found that the trial court had no jurisdiction of the indictment because to warrant a trial at the sessions, the district attorney should have entered a nolle prosequi on the numerous counts for the rape.
CONCLUSION
The court ordered a retrial of the action by the state against the defendant on counts charging him with the principal crime of rape.

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