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Curiosities Of Evidence

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Some of the more ignoraut of the Boman Catholic cliurch have acurious idea of the sanctity of an oath. We remember an old Irish woman being called as a witness at a recent assizeal Liverpool to prove on the part of the defense an al'bi as to the prisoners Sh.e was duly sworn, and gave evidence utterly irreconcilable with the statements oL other witnesses of undoubted veracity. It was quietly suggested by a clergyman in court that the Testament used in administering the oath had no cross upon the cover. On this repre3entation another book was sent for which bore the oacred symbol; anc being somewhat reluctantly re-sworn on the new volume she did nothesitate to say, on being questioned, tliat all her testimony just given was false quietly remarking, in answer to a re monstrance from the counsel, that she supposed she might say what she pleased as long as she was not "sworn on the blessed crucifix." The custom of kisging the thumb instead of the book was considered by many an evasion of the moral obliga tion attached to an oath, while to oth ers, holding the Testament upside down wa3 deemed an equally efflca cious release. These and other disrep utable artífices are, iiowever, very little indulged in at the present day. When the celebra ted Serjeant Ilill conducted a defence at the bar of the House of Lords, he propounded a question to a witness which the counsel on the other side objected to. Aiter much had been said on either side, the Law Lords themselves disagreed, and the Bar and all the strangers were ordered to withdraw. Af ter an absence of two hours they were re-admitted, and the Lord Chancellor informed Mr. Hill that the House decided the question might be put. "Please you, my lords," said the serjeant, "it is so long since I asked the question that I forget what it was, but with your Iordship3' permission I will put another I" A witness was lately called on a trial at the Old Bailey to prove an alibi. He solemnly swore that the prisoner on the night and at the hour in question (11: 25 p. m), was at home and in bed at a distant part of the parish. Nothiag could shake his testimony, for he said he had looked at the clock just as the prisoner went up stairs, and he had set the clock right with the church clock himself the same day, and it was certamly 11:25 p. m., etc. "Pray, what do you make the time now?" blandly asked the counsel who cross-examined, pointing to a great white dial over the doek. No answer was given. "Don't be confused- take your time. I ask you again- what is the time by that clock now ?" The question was repeated several times, and the witness was eventual Iy bound to confess that he could not teil the time by a clock at all. Singularly enough the clock in the court was standing at 11:25 when he made this avowal. We remember a country witness being called at the assizes to prove that at a particular hour on a cerlain ntght the tnoon was shining at the full. There happened to be no almanac in court, but the evidence seemed to be satisfactory, for he had obtained his information from a "regular good London stationer's almanac." The question was asked on crossexamination, "How did you obtain this London stationery's almanac? Did you buy it? "Buy itl Nb; my father pasted it behind the kitchen door nine years ago- the day I was marriedP It nee! hardly be said that information as to the moou's age during a day In the current year was of little value from an almanac nine years old. We may rernark that all evidence of a "ciicumstantial" character is received with great caution, and no daubt rightly so, on a trial. Take, as an illustration of this, the evidence offered against a prisoner, of footmarks. JSTothing is more commonly found than the sion of boots or shoes near to a murdered body, or to premises which have been broken into. A policeman is called as a witness on tho trial, who deposes that he took the boots off the prisoner upon his arrest, that he cornpared tliem with the footmarks near the place of the alieged crime, and that they corresponded in every particular. "Y ou compared tnem.I auppose." usually asks the judge, "by placing the boots in the impressions, and found that they corresponded?" "Yes, my lord." The answer is fatal to that branch of the evidence, for the placing the boot in the impre3sion found very possibiy caused the similarity relied upon; the prudent offlcer places the piisoner's boot beside the footprint, presses it into the earth, and then removing it, compares the impression made with the one disco vered, "We remember an amusing little circumstance occurring during aprotracted trial for felony in one of tho midland counties a few years ago. A boy, entering the court and making his way to the jury-box, handed tothe offlcer in attendance a note addressed to one of the jury, the offlcer handing it, as in iuty bound, to "his lordship on the bench." The judge- flrst asking permission - opened and read the comniuaication. After a solemn pause he renarked, "I think, sir, I had better not land you this at present. You could not now comply with the suggestion, and it might distract your attention frora the very serious case we are trying." The juryman bowed, and the judge carefully placed tne letter between the pages of his note-book. When the case concluded, about eight or nine at night, said the judge, "There is your note, sir. I am afraid it will give you little pleasuie now." The juror opened and read it.smiled, bowed, and hastily left the box, leaving the note behind, which, we trust, we were guilty of no great iudiaoretion in reading. It was in a f emale hand : Dearest Jim: Mr. aad Mrs. Brown have jast come, aad have brought eucti a loyely pair of ducks, you can't tliinfe! and the onions and things for the stuffing, and we'll have the puddiDfï we left from ChriBtmas. I'il put them down to be ready at 1 sharp, because the B.'s must leaveearly- by t-he 6 train. Do leave thatnasty court. Say you'to poorly, or aDythlntr. Micd, atl! Weshan't wait!


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Ann Arbor Democrat