Thursday, July 25, 2013

Race & Criminal Justice

If you want to know why so many blacks have responded so bizarrely (at least in your eyes or mine) to the Zimmerman verdict, it's because of history like this: a collection from United States Digest: a Digest of Decisions of the Various Courts 14:492-3 (Boston: Little Brown & Co., 1879):
175. Indians. Negroes. Chinamen. A Chinaman who stated that he did not know the name of the book he was sworn on, but that he believed that if lie should state any thing untrue, the court would punish him, and that after his death he would "godown there," making an emphatic gesture downward with his hand, was htld to be a competent witness. The Merrimac, 1 Ben. 490.
176. In suits between a white man and a free person of color, or of mixed blood within the third degree, where the amount in controversy is under 920, and the former is sworn, the latter has also the right to use his own oath. Jety v. Hardy, 2 Port. (Ala.) 648.
177. The son of a mulatto is incapable, by statute, of being a witness against a white man. Smyth v. Oliver, 31 Ala. 89.
178. A person whose great-grandmother was the daughter of a mulatto by a negress, is not a competent witness for or against a white (Ala. Code, § 2276), although his father, maternal grandfather, and great-grandfather were whites. Dupree v. Slate, 33 Ala. 380.
179. A person whose maternal grandmother was the daughter of two mulattoes, each of whom had a full-blooded black for one parent, cannot testily against a w hite under Ala. Code, § 2276. Heath v. State, 34 Ala. 250.
180. Where colored witnesses for the prosecution, in a criminal case, are put under the rule, and excluded from hearing the testimony of other witnesses, and one colored man remains in court during a part of the testimony, and is nevef.heless put on the stand by the government, the court may in its discretion allow him to be examined, notwithstanding the defendant's objection. Montgomery v. State, 40 Ala. 684.
181. A Chinaman is an " Indian," within Cal. Code, § S94, excluding "Indians" as witnesses. Speer v. Sre Yup Co., 13 Cal. 78.
182. The color of a witness is not, as matter of law, sufficient to show that he is incompetent under the statute ; thus, a dark-colored native of Turkey is competent in the absence of proof as to his descent. People v. Elyea, 14 Cal. 144.
183. Section 14 of the California act, concerning crimes and punishments, creates an exception to the general rule of section 13 of said act; and in a criminal suit against a white man, no black, mulatto, or Indian person, although the injured party, can give evidence. People v. Howard, 17 Cal. 63.
184. The words " white person," in the California act which provides that " no Indian, or person having one-half or more of Indian blood, or Mongolian, or Chinese, shall be permitted to give evidence in favor of or against a white person," refer to the defendant only in a criminal action; and a Chinaman, who is on trial for crime, may introduce Chinese witnesses in his behalf. People T. Awa, 27 Cal. 638.
185. The fact that a Chinaman cannot be a witness against a white man indicted for robbing him, does not change the rules of evidence either as to the admission of evidence or as to the proof necessary to convict. People v. Jones, 31 Cal. 665.
186. Negro testimony is admissible, in Delaware, in a case between negroes, or against a negro. Elliott v. Morgan, 3 Harr. (Del.) 816.
187. In an indictment against a white man for kidnapping, in Delaware, the negro kidnapped is allowed to testify, though there were white persons present participating in the crime. State v. Whitaker, 3 Harr. (Del.) 649; State v. Griffin, Id. 560.
188. As to when negro testimony is in general admissible, — see Slate v. Cooper, 3 Harr. (Del.) 571.
189. A colored person is competent to prove his book of original entries, to make it evidence in a suit, though against a white person. Webb v. Pituirrgrass, 4 Harr. (Del.) 439.
190. Although against a free white person, negro testimony is inadmissible, yet it is competent to state that certain acts were done, in consequence of information received from a negro. Grady v. State, 11 Ga. 253.
191. The color of a witness is no longer an objection to his competency in the courts of Georgia. Clarke v. State, 35 Ga. 76.
192. The declarations of a sick negro to her physician were held inadmissible in evidence, except as to the disease of which he was afflicted at the time of the conversation. Brown v. Lester, Ga. Dec. Part I. 77.
193. Although an Indian is not a competent witness in Indiana, yet the fact that a witness is principal chief of an Indian nation, is, at most, but presumptive evidence that he is an Indian, which, in the supreme court, is rebutted by the fact that he was admitted to testify in the circuit court. Harris v. Doe, 4 Blackf. (Ind.) 369.
194. A negro is a competent witness in behalf of another negro on trial under an indictment. Woodward v. State, 6 Ind. 492.
195. In a suit, wherein one party is white and the other colored, the white party cannot introduce a colored witness, who has one-eighth or more of negro blood, against the other. Graham v. Crockett, 18 Ind. 119.
196. It is the duty of the court to determine the competency of witnesses, and where the objection to the competency of the witness rests upon the allegation that he has such an amount of negro blood as disqualifies him to testify, the court may, upon inspection, determine prima facie his competency; but if his blood is not sufficiently apparent for such mode of determination, then the court may examine other witnesses, either to prove the blood of the witness from reputation amongst those who knew him, or to establish the character of his blood by the testimony of experts. Nave v. Williams, 22 Ind. 368.
197. In what cases negroes were rendered incompetent as witnesses under the Indiana acts of 1853 and 1865, — determined. Turner v. Parry, 27 Ind. 163.
198. The laws of Kentucky in reference to the competency of negroes as witnesses are not affected by the civil rights bill. Bowlin v. Commonwealth, 2 Bush, (Ky.) 5.
199. A free black person was held, in Maryland, to be an incompetent witness in a case where the parties were free white Christians. Rusk v. Sowerwine, 3 Har. & J. (Md.) 97. See Sprigg v. Negro Mary, Id. 491.
200. There are but two cases in which a negro suffers a disqualification because of the presumption arising from his color. One is when he is summoned as a witness in a suit in which a white person is interested, and the other is upon the question of his freedom. Hughes v. Jackson, 12 Md. 450.
201. In Mississippi, an Indian is a competent witness in a suit between white men, and is under no other restrictions than a white person. Coleman v. Doe, 12 Miss. (4 Smed. &M.) 40; Doe v. Newman, 11 Miss. (3 Smed. & M.) 665.
202. Though a negro cannot testify against a white person, in Missouri, a conversation between the prisoner and a negro, if otherwise unobjectionable, may be proved by a white person, but not by the negro. Hawkins v. State, 7 Mo. 190.
203. Evidence that a negro has been reputed free from his childhood is sufficient evidence of his freedom to admit him as a witness. Potts v. Harper, 3 N. J. L. (2 Pen.) 1030.
204. A free black man is a competent witness to prove facts which may have happened while he was a slave. Gurnee v. Denies, 1 Johns. (N. Y.) 608.
205. In North Carolina, on the trial of an issue deoisavit vel non, where a will is propounded by two legatees, one of whom is a colored woman, and the other a white woman, and the caveators are colored persons, the caveators may prove by other colored persons the declarations of the colored woman, one of the parties propounding, in relation to the subject-matter of the issue, liagland v. Huntingdon, 1 Ired. (N. C.) L. 661.
206. N. C. Rev. Code, ch. 107, § 71, which makes persons of color incapable of being witnesses, except against each other, was repealed by the constitution. State v. Underwood, 63 N. C. 98.
207. A negro is not admissible as a witness, in Ohio, against a quadroon, on trial for a criminal offence. Gray v. State, 4 Ohio, 363.
208. A black or mulatto person is not a competent witness, where a white person is a party. Jordan v. Smith, 14 Ohio, 199; Paqe v. Carter, 8 B. Mon. (Ky.) 192. See Motts v. Usher, 2 Iowa, 82.
209. A free person of color is an incompetent witness, in any case, in a court of record of South Carolina. Groning v. Devana, 2 Bailey, (S. C.) 192. See White v. Helmes, 1 McCord, (S. C.) 430; State v. McDowell, 2 Brev. (S. C.) 146.
210. In an action within the summary process jurisdiction brought by one free negro against another, if plaintiff serves interrogatories on defendant, it is the duty of the clerk of the court to swear defendant to his answers, which may then be read in court. Jones v. Jones, 12 Rich. (S. C.) 116.
211. In Tennessee, no person disqualified as a witness by reason of his being a free man of color, or slave, under the act of 1794, eh. 1, § 32, can be a witness, in a state prosecution, for a defendant who belongs to one of the disqualified classes. Jones v. State, 1 Meigs, (Tenn.) 120.
 Ancient history you say?  Yup, I agree.  But there is a reason for this mistrust.


  1. It's been a long time since I saw "the Wild Geese", but this list makes me recall an exchange from the movie. Coetzee, the Boer mercenary, sent to rescue President Limbani, the overthrown and imprisoned leader. Coetzee says to Limbani something to the effect of, "You have to forgive us for the past and we have to forgive you for the present or we have no future."
    Admittedly that's Hollywood scriptwriters talking, but it kind of fits the present situation, too.

  2. Sounds like feminism (women don't lie about rape) and Islam (testimony of a Moslem is worth four times that of an unbeliever) and socialism (the testimony of capitalist roaders is worthless).

    The conclusion is that people, being hierarchical, must have discriminatory laws to reinforce that hierarchy.