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Hicks v. United States

150 U.S. 442 (1893)

tl;dr: The presence of the defendant at the scene of the crime is not enough to convict him for aiding and abetting, unless his own actions indicated an intent to aid in the commission of the crime.

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The case of Hicks v. United States involved the murder of a white man, Andrew J. Colvard, by an Indian named John Hicks and another Indian named Stand Rowe. Hicks was found guilty in March 1893, but the court's instruction to the jury was erroneous because it did not include the requirement that Hicks must have intended to encourage and abet Rowe. Also, the court's instruction regarding the defendant's testimony was erroneous because it could have discouraged Hicks from testifying in his own defense. The exception to the judge's charge was valid and specific enough to point out the error. The incident occurred at a dance in the Cherokee Nation, where Colvard was friendly with Hicks and Rowe. Alcohol was consumed, and Colvard was found shot and killed the next morning. The plaintiff in error became suspicious of Colvard's intentions and openly declared that he would shoot Colvard if he persisted in trying to take Rowe away with him. On the morning of February 13, 1892, witnesses saw Stand Rowe on horseback with his Winchester rifle, coming down a trail towards the main road. They saw Colvard and Hicks riding together down the main road from Jim Rowe's house.

Hicks was charged with aiding and abetting the shooter who killed Colvard. The judge's instructions to the jury were erroneous as they did not specify that the accused must have intended to encourage and abet the shooter. The judge's statement about the intentional use of words was flawed. The judge's instructions regarding the weight the jury should give to the accused's testimony may also contain a substantial error. The defendant's right to testify in their own defense was undermined. The only evidence against the defendant was the testimony of witnesses who claimed to have heard him say something from a distance, and there was no other evidence to support the accusation. The defendant's denial and explanation of his actions should have been given careful consideration by the jury.

The defendant's objection to the judge's charge was considered, and the lower court's verdict was overturned. Justice Brewer dissented, arguing that the defendant's objection was too broad. The court failed to state that the accused must have intended to encourage and abet the crime, but the omission was not significant enough to mislead the jury. Exceptions to a court's mistake in the law during the summing up should be specific and made known at the moment. Exceptions that do not specify the grounds of objection should not be noticed.

The court correctly considered the defendant's testimony and the charge did not show bias. However, there was a dissenting opinion that disagreed with the majority's decision to reverse the judgment.

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IRACIssue, Rule, Analysis, Conclusion

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Facts & Holding

Facts:The defendant, Rowe, and the victim had been riding on...

Holding:The court held that the jury ahd been improperly instructed,...

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Hicks v. United States

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