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Page:Harvard Law Review Volume 2.djvu/303

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NOTES.

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mission shall have power to investigate cases arising under the act; that its findings shall be prima facie evidence in any subsequent judi- cial proceedings; that its recommendations may be enforced by peti- tion, in a summary way, to the Circuit Courts ol the United States ; and that " if it be made to appear to such court . . . that the lawful order or requirement of said Commission drawn in question has been violated or disobeyed, it shall be lawful for such court to issue a writ of injunc- tion or other proper process, mandatory or otherwise, to restrain such common carrier from further continuing such violation or disobedience of such order or requirement of said Commission, and enjoining obe- dience to the same." It will be seen that no specific provision is made for the case where the Circuit Court finds itself obliged to differ from the Commission, either as to matter of fact, or as to matter of law; and hence arises the importance of this decision. An appeal has been allowed to the Supreme Court of the United States.

The first prize offered last winter by the Medico- Legal Society ot New York for the best essay on a medico-legal subject, has been awarded to one of the original editors of this Review, Mr. J. H. Wigmore, L.S. '87, the subject of whose article was Circumstantial Evidence in Poisoning Cases. Among the members of the awarding committee were ex-Judge Dillon and ex-Judge Noah Davis.

The article, which was printed in full in the ** New York Mail and Express," Dec. 17, 1888, is an analysis, based upon a historical review of adjudged cases of the amount and kind of evidence necessary to sus- tain an indictment for murder by poisoning. These propositions must be established to sustain such an indictment : —

First, it must be proved that the deceased died by poison. This may be shown by one of two kinds of circumstantial evidence; either (a) by an analysis of portions of the body or of substance known to have entered the body, or {J>) by the observed symptoms and appearances before and after death.

Second, it must be proved that the poison was administered by the accused or by his agency. Direct evidence of this fact being rarely obtainable, circumstantial evidence must generally be relied upon. This circumstantial evidence consists of a group of four subsidiary facts, from which the existence of the principal fact — the defendant's guilt — is to be inferred: (a) previous possession of the poisonous sul^tance; (^) opportunity of administration; (c) antecedent possibility or prob- ability, including motive and expressed intention; and (^) impossibility or improbability of administration by other agencies.

Thirds it must be shown that the accused administered the poison with knowledge of its probable effects.

The outlines of this summary are filled out in Mr. Wigmore's article by an interesting and instructive discussion of the varying importance to be attached to each of these different items of evidence, the probative force of each, and the roles played by each in the various adjudged cases of the past.

"The good old English law," as Charles Kingsley somewhere calls it, that every Englishman has a right to attend church, for it is God's house, has lately received judicial recognition.

A reformatory boy being prevented by the church-warden from en- tering the church, and having brought action for the assault, it was