Hopt v. Utah
120 U.S. 430 (1887)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Hopt v. Utah, 120 U.S. 430 (1887)

Hopt v. Utah

Argued January 21, 1887

Decided March 7, 1887

120 U.S. 430

Syllabus

Evidence, or what purports to be evidence, in a criminal case, printed in a newspaper, is "a statement in a public journal" within the meaning of the act of Utah declaring that no person shall be disqualified as a juror by reason of his having formed or expressed an opinion upon the matter or cause to be submitted to him

"founded upon public rumor, statements in public journals, or common notoriety, provided it appear to the court, upon his declaration under oath or otherwise, that he can and will, notwithstanding such an opinion, act impartially and fairly upon the matters submitted to him."

The judgment of the court as to the competency of the juror upon his declaration under oath or otherwise, as above, is conclusive.

When a challenge by a defendant in a criminal action to a juror, for bias, actual or implied, is disallowed, and the juror is thereupon peremptorily challenged by the defendant and excused, and an impartial and competent juror is obtained in his place, no injury is done to the defendant if until the jury is completed he has other peremptory challenges which he can use.

Page 120 U. S. 431

The opinion of a physician, after making a post mortem examination of the deceased, who came to his death by a blow inflicted upon his lead, as to the direction from which the blow was delivered is admissible in evidence.

If the evidence produced in a criminal action be of such a convincing character that the jurors would unhesitatingly be governed by it in the weighty and important matters of life, they may be said to have no reasonable doubt respecting the guilt or innocence of the accused, notwithstanding the uncertainty which attends all human evidence. Therefore a charge to the jury that if, after an impartial comparison and consideration of all the evidence, they can truthfully say that they have an abiding conviction of the defendant's guilt such as they would be willing to act upon in the more weighty and important matters relating to their own affairs, they have no reasonable doubt, is not erroneous.

An allusion in the final argument to the jury by the counsel for the prosecution to the case as having been many times brought before the tribunals is not a ground for reversing a judgment under the statute of Utah which declares that on a new trial, the "former verdict cannot be used or referred to either in evidence or argument."

This writ of error was sued out by the defendant below, who was indicted, tried, and convicted of murder, to review the proceedings and judgment there. The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.

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