Alexander v. United States
138 U.S. 353 (1891)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Alexander v. United States, 138 U.S. 353 (1891)

Alexander v. United States

No. 1309

Argued and submitted January 16, 1891

Decided February 2, 1891

138 U.S. 353

Syllabus

It is the duty of counsel in a criminal case to seasonably call the attention of the court to any error in impaneling the jury, in admitting testimony, or in any other proceeding during the trial by which the rights of the accused may be prejudiced, and, in case of an adverse ruling, to note an exception, and if counsel fails in this respect, error cannot be assigned for such causes.

It being shown in a trial on an indictment for murder that on the day of the disappearance of S. (the murdered man) and of Mrs. H., her husband and his relatives were seen, armed with guns and pistols, hunting for S. and Mrs. H., who were supposed to have eloped together, the declarations at that time of H. as to his purpose in doing so were part of the res gestae, but this Court does not decide whether it was error to rule them out.

Statements regarding the commission of a crime already committed, made by the party committing it to an attorney at law when consulting him in that capacity, are privileged communications, whether a fee has or has not been paid and whether litigation is pending or not.

The rule announced in Queen v. Cox, 14 Q.B.D. 163, should be limited to cases where the party is tried for the crime in furtherance of which the communication is made.

The case is stated in the opinion.

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