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Scott v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

November 14, 1955

Ida M. SCOTT, Appellant,
v.
STATE of Delaware, Appellee.

Defendant was convicted of procuring a third person to perform an abortion. The Superior Court, New Castle County, entered judgment, and defendant brought error. The Supreme Court, Bramhall, J., 113 A.2d 880, on original review held that evidence was insufficient to sustain conviction and reversed the judgment. Thereafter a petition for reargument was filed by the State. The Supreme Court, Bramhall, J., held that where trial was without a jury, and no request was made that Superior Court find the facts specifically, and the Superior Court undertook to make specific findings, but failed to make a specific finding whether or not there had been a private meeting between defendant and abortionist immediately prior to the abortion, Supreme Court would remand the case to the Superior Court with instructions to open the judgment of conviction and make such additional findings of fact as might be appropriate in connection with evidence concerning the alleged private meeting and, on making of such additional facts, either to reinstate or vacate the judgment of conviction.

Cause remanded with instructions.

Page 832

Henry A. Wise, Jr., Wilmington, for appellant.

[49 Del. 403] Herbert L. Cobin, Chief Deputy Atty. Gen., for the State.

SOUTHERLAND, C. J., and WOLCOTT and BRAMHALL, JJ., sitting.

BRAMHALL, Justice.

A petition for reargument was filed by the State after the filing of the former opinion in this case, Del., 113 A.2d 880. This court granted a limited reargument upon the following basis:

‘ The question to be argued is limited to the sufficiency of the evidence in the case to establish the guilt of the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt under the rules of law applicable to circumstantial evidence.’

The objection of the State is bottomed upon the construction which this court in a former opinion placed upon the findings of fact of the court below relating to an alleged private meeting between defendant and Mrs. Quigley at the latter's apartment just before the operation was performed. In that opinion this court interpreted the language of the lower court as implying at least that no such meeting occurred. There being no other testimony tending to show any direct connection between defendant and Mrs. Quigley, this court held that the findings of fact as stated by the trial court were insufficient to sustain a conviction.

The State contends that the lower court made no specific findings relative to this alleged meeting, and that therefore such conclusion by this court was unwarranted. The State also claims that by reason of the general finding of guilty by the lower court, coupled with the further fact that no request for specific findings had been made, any doubt about the meaning of this particular part of the court's findings must be resolved in favor of the State.

Relative to this alleged meeting the lower court, in referring [49 Del. 404] to the arrival of defendant and Mrs. Compton at the Quigley apartment, said: ‘ Defendant then went into another room while Alice Quigley

Page 833

performed an act or acts intended to procure an abortion.’ [Italics supplied.] This court concluded from the use of the word ‘ then’ that the lower court had rejected Mrs. Compton's testimony that the defendant and Mrs. Quigley talked together privately before the abortion was performed. In reaching this conclusion we noted that the fact was in dispute. Moreover, Mrs. Compton in cross-examination admitted that in a previous hearing she had not testified to the private meeting. Hence the failure of the trial judge to resolve this disputed fact could be interpreted as a rejection of Mrs. Compton's testimony.

After further argument, however, we think that the opinion of the trial court may possibly be construed as one that merely ...


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