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[Cite as Hunter v. State, 62 Miss. 540
SAM HUNTER v. THE STATE.
(April Term, 1885.)
Fighting in public place. Right of
self-defense. Section 2750, Code 1880,
Section 2750 of the Code of
1880, which makes it an indictable offense, punishable by fine and
imprisonment, to fight in a public place with a deadly weapon, was not intended,
and does not have the effect, to abolish or impair the right of self-defense as
previously recognized by law.
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Hinds County.
Hon. T. J. Wharton, Judge.
In February, 1885, Sam Hunter was indicted upon the charge that, on
the 15th of December, 1884, he "did willfully and unlawfully fight B. F. Kendall
in the public streets of the town of Raymond, the same being a public place, and
in such fight did willfully and unlawfully use and shoot a pistol, the same
being a deadly weapon."
The facts established by the evidence adduced at the trial are
sufficiently stated in the opinion of the court.
The court instructed the jury in effect, that if the fight occurred
in a street in the town of Raymond, it was a fight in a public place, and the
defendant was guilty; but that if the fight took place in a private room, it was
not a fight in a public place, and the defendant was not guilty.
The defendant was convicted and sentenced to pay a fine of three
hundred dollars and be imprisoned in the county jail for three months. From such
judgment he appealed to this court.
The indictment was based upon § 2750 of the Code of
1880, which is in the following language:
"If any person shall be guilty of fighting in any village, city,
town, or other public place, and shall, in such fight, use any rifle,
shot-gun, sword-cane, pistol, dirk, bowie-knife, dirk-knife, or any other
deadly weapon, or if any person shall be second or aid in such fight, the
person so offending shall be fined not less than three hundred dollars and
shall be imprisoned not less than three months; and if any person shall be
killed in such fight the person (p.541)so
killing the other may be prosecuted and convicted as in other cases of
Wells & Williamson, for the appellant.
1. The instruction given for the State is erroneous. It does not
announce the law in the meaning of § 2750 of the Code of
1880. That statute condemns fighting in "villages, cities, towns, or
other public places with deadly weapons." A fight occurring in a house, store,
or office, or bed-room would not come within the meaning of the statute. The
statute clearly means that the fighting must be in the street or some other
2. But if there be no error in the instruction or law of this case,
yet the jury have manifestly found contrary to the law and the evidence. From
the evidence there can be no doubt but that Kendall attacked Hunter in his own
private bed-room, shot at him with intent to do him great harm, if not to kill
him. How could Hunter do otherwise than to defend himself?
C. M. Williamson, of counsel for appellant, argued
the case orally.
T. S. Ford, Attorney General, for the State.
1. The instruction given for the State was not erroneous. The
offense defined in § 2750 of the Code of 1880 is of a
kindred nature to the common law offense of an affray. As to what is a public
place in this class of offenses see Bishop's Crim. Law, vol. 1, § 1128, et
seq., and vol. 11, § 2; 35 Ala. 392-3. The policy of
the law in both cases is the same. One of the evils intended to be suppressed in
both cases is the fighting in a place where the people who may be alarmed and
terrified at the breach of the peace may witness it.
2. There was sufficient evidence to authorize the jury to convict.
The jury were specially charged as to Hunter's attitude in the case and the law
determining his criminality or responsibility, and it is submitted that their
verdict ought not to be disturbed.
T. S. Ford, Attorney General, also made an oral
CAMPBELL, C. J., delivered the opinion of the
In the trial of this case in the circuit court the verdict was made
(p.542)to depend on the particular place in
Raymond at which the fight occurred, without any reference to whether the combat
was mutual and by consent, or whether it was an assault by one party on the
other, which he had the right to repel anywhere. The evidence shows that an
attack was made on the appellant, who was in his own house, and that he shot his
assailant in self-defense. Section 2750 of the code does
not deprive one of his right to defend himself by repelling an attack. Its
particular object is to punish street fights in which deadly weapons are used.
It is a part of the legislation against duelling, and is designed to punish
fighting willingly in a public place. The verdict should have been set
Judgment reversed and new trial granted.