Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Thriller Thursday - Wrapping Up the Villers Trial, Part 5

The Jamestown Weekly Alert,
20JAN1898, pg1
OK. Sadly this is more on defining evidence from a quick glance. Let's get this out of the way. Perhaps when I'm done transcribing it we'll discover something new...

"What is Circumstantial Evidence?

The evidence offered by the state tending to connect Mr. Villers with the offense charged is what is known as circumstantial evidence. It therefore becomes important to inform you what circumstantial evidence is and to point out the distinction between that and direct evidence in order to give you an idea of the mode in which judicial investigation is to be pursued by the aid of circumstantial evidence. I cannot do better than to quote from the charge of an eminent jurist:

The distinction between direct and circumstantial evidence is this: Direct or positive evidence is when a witness can be called to testify of the precise fact which is a subject of issue on trial. That is, in cases of homicide that the party accused caused the death of the deceased. Whatever may be the kind or force of the evidence this is the act to be proved. But suppose no person was present on the occassion (sic) of the death and of course that no one can be called to testify about it, is it wholly unsusceptible of legal proof? Experience has shown that circumstantial evidence may be offered in such cases; that is, that a body of facts may be proved of so conclusive a character as to warrant and form the belief of the fact quite as strong and certain as that on which discreet men are accostomed (sic) to act in relation to their most important concerns. It would be injurious to the best interests of society if such proof could not avail in judicial proceedings. If it was necessary always to have direct evidence how many criminal acts committed in the community, destructive of its peace and subversive of its order and security would go wholly undetected and unpunished.

The Jamestown Weekly Alert,
20JAN1898, pg1
The necessity therefor of resorting to circumstantial evidence finds a safe and reliable proceeding as obvious as absolute. Crimes are secret. Most men conscious of criminal, and who purpose the execution of criminal acts, seek the security of secresy (sic) and darkness. It is necessary, therefor, to use all other modes of evidence beside that of direct testimony provided such evidence may be relied on as leading to safe and satisfactory conclusions and thus a beneficent providence, the laws of nature and the relations of things to each other are so linked and combined together that a medium of proof is other thereby furnished leading to inferences and conclusions as strong as those rising from direct testimony. Perhaps strong circumstantial evidence in cases of crimes like this committed for the main part in secret is the most satisfactory of any other to draw the conclusion of guilt; for a man may be seduced to perjury by many base motives to which the secret nature of the offense may sometimes afford the temptation; but it can scarcely happen that many circumstances especially if they be of such over which the successor should have no control forming together links of the transaction should all unfortunately concur to fix the presumption of guilt on an individual and yet such a conclusion be erroneous. But in the case of circumstantial evidence where no witnesses can testify directly to the fact to be proved it is arrived at by a series of other facts which by experience have been found so associated with the facts in question that in the relation of cause and effect they lead to a satisfactory and certain conclusion."

Do you feel like you were just listening to the teacher on a Charlie Brown cartoon? I felt that way typing this. At one point I completely disengaged the comprehension part of my brain and was essentially just typing letters without grasping their meaning.

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