Selvester v. United States
170 U.S. 262 (1898)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Selvester v. United States, 170 U.S. 262 (1898)

Selvester v. United States

No. 397

Argued March 14, 1898

Decided April 25, 1898

170 U.S. 262

Syllabus

Plaintiff in error was indicted for alleged violations of Rev.Stat. § 5457. The indictment contained four counts. The first charged the unlawful possession of two counterfeit half-dollars; the second, an illegal passing and uttering of two such pieces; the third, an unlawful passing and uttering of three pieces of like nature, and the fourth the counterfeiting of five like coins. After the jury had retired, they returned into court and stated that, whilst they were agreed as to the first three counts, they could not do so as to the fourth, and the court was asked if a verdict to that effect could be lawfully rendered. They were instructed that it could be, whereupon they rendered a verdict that they found the prisoner guilty on the first, second and third counts of the indictment, and that they disagreed on the fourth count, which verdict was received, and the jury discharged. Held that there was no error in this.

Latham v. The Queen, 8 B. & S. 635, cited, quoted from, and approved as to the point that,

"in a criminal case where each count is, as it were, a separate indictment, one count not having been disposed of no more affects the proceedings with error than if there were two indictments."

The plaintiff in error was indicted for alleged violations of section 5457 of the Revised Statutes. The indictment contained four counts. The first charged the unlawful possession of two counterfeit half-dollars, the second an illegal passing and uttering of two such pieces, the third an unlawful passing and uttering of three pieces of like nature, and the fourth, the counterfeiting of five like coins. The case came on for trial, and after the jury had retired, they returned into court and stated that, while they agreed as to the first three counts, they could not do so as to the fourth, and the court was asked if a verdict to that effect could be lawfully rendered. They were instructed that it could be. The district attorney thereupon asked leave to enter a nolle prosequi as to the fourth count, but, upon objection by the accused, the motion was withdrawn and the jury rendered the following verdict:

Page 170 U. S. 263

"We, the jury, find James Selvester, the prisoner at the bar, guilty on the first, second, and third counts of the indictment, and disagree on the fourth count of the indictment."

Despite objection and exception by the accused, the court received this verdict and discharged the jury.

By motions in arrest of judgment, to set aside the verdict, and for a new trial, the defendant asserted that the verdict was a nullity because "insufficient, incomplete, and uncertain." Exceptions were duly noted to the overruling of these several motions, and, the court having imposed sentence, a writ of error was allowed.

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