Imágenes de páginas

in the State—they were formerly held by three justices of the peace of the county, or by two such justices and one judge of the county courts, but by an act to reduce town officers and town and county expenses, it was provided that courts of special sessions shall be held by a single magistrate then authorized to sit as a member of a court of special sessions; and, further, that all offences then triable before such courts, might thereafter be tried before such single magistrate, with or without a jury, at the election of the prisoner, and all the provisions of law then applicable to the powers, duties and proceedings of such courts, were made applicable to such magistrate, and the proeeedings before him.

Courts of special sessions are usually held by a justice of the peace, except in those cities and villages of the State where special legislation is made applicable to these courts. The recorders of the several cities in this State, are given by statute the same power in relation to the trial of criminals, as are given in this respect to a judge of the county court.2

Courts of special sessions except in the city and county of New York, and the city of Albany, have power to hear and determine charges for crime arising within their respective counties as follows:

1. All cases of petit larceny charged as a first offence.3

2. Cases of assault and battery not charged to have been committed riotously, or upon any public officer in the execution of his duties.

3. Charges for poisoning, killing, maiming, wounding or cruelly beating animals.

4. Charges for racing animals within one mile of the place where any court is held.

5. Charges for committing any willful trespass, or for severing any produce or article from the freehold, not amounting to grand larceny.

6. Charges for selling poisonous substances not labeled, as required by law.

7. Charges for maliciously removing, altering, defacing or cutting down monuments or marked trees.

[blocks in formation]

8. Charges for maliciously, breaking, destroying or removing mile-stones, mile-boards or guide-boards, or altering or defacing any inscription thereon.

9. Charges for willfuly or maliciously destroying any public or toll-bridge, or any turnpike gate.

10. Charges against any person who shall be intoxicated while engaged in running any locomotive engine upon any railroad, or while acting as conductor of a car or train of cars on any such railroad.

11. Charges for setting up or drawing unauthorized lotteries, and for printing or publishing an account of any such illegal lottery, game or device, and for selling or procuring lottery tickets to be sold, and for offering for sale or distribution, any property depending upon any lottery, and for selling any chances in any lottery contrary to the provisions of article fourth, chapter twentieth, part first, title eight, of the fourth edition of the Revised Statutes.

12. All charges for running, trotting or pacing horses, or any other animals.

13. All offences against the laws relating to excise, and the regulation of taverns and groceries.

14. Charges for voting more than once at the same election, or procuring illegal votes.

15. Charges for making or vending any slung shot, or any sim

ilar weapon.

16. Charges for unlawfully disclosing the fact of any indictment being found.

17. Charges for unlawfully bringing to, or carrying letters from, any State prison.

18. Charges for unlawfully, willfully or maliciously destroying or injuring any mill-dam, or embankment necessary for the support of such dam.

19. Charges for unlawfully, intentionally or willfully injuring any telegraph wire, post, pier, abutment, materials or property belonging to any line of telegraph.

20. Charges for unlawfully, knowingly and willfully counterfeiting any representation, likeness, similitude or copy of the private stamp, wrapper or label of any mechanic or manufacturer.

21. Charges for malicious trespass on lands, trees or timber, or injuring any fruit, or ornamental or shade tree.

22. Charges for maliciously or willfully breaking or lowering any canal walls, or wantonly opening any lock gate, or destroying any bridge, or otherwise unlawfully injuring such canal or bridge.

23. Charges for unlawfully counterfeiting or defacing marks on packages.

24. Charges for unlawfully and negligently setting fire to wood or fallow land, or allowing the same to extend to lands of others, or unlawfully refusing to extinguish any fire.

25. Charges for unlawfully cutting out, altering or defacing any mark on any logs, timber, wood or plank, floating in any the waters of this State, or lying on the banks or shores of any such waters, or at any saw-mills, or any islands, where the same may have drifted.1

26. Charges for offences against the provisions of chapter 573, of laws of 1853, and the act amendatory thereof, chapter 222, laws of 1865, for the prevention of wanton and malicious mischief.2


The statute above referred to, further provides that courts of Special Sessions, except in the city and county of New York and city of Albany, shall, in the first instance, have exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine charges for crimes and offences within their respective counties, in the following cases :

1. Charges against any persons driving any carriages upon any turnpike road or highway in this State, for running or permitting their horses to run.

2. Charges for racing, running or testing the speed of any horse or other animals, within one mile of the place where any court shall be sitting.

3. Charges for cruelty to animals, contrary to law. 4. Charges for cheating at games.

5. Charges for winning or losing at any game or play, or by any bet, twenty-five dollars within twenty-four hours.,

6. Charges for selling liquor in any court house contrary to law, and for selling liquor in jails contrary to law.”

[blocks in formation]

Courts of special sessions have jurisdiction to hear and determine charges for misdemeanors committed within their respective counties, in violation of the statutes, prohibiting the selling or giving to Indians residing in their counties, of spirituous liquors or intoxicating drinks. And also of certain violations of the non-imprisonment act, where property of the value of fifty dol. lars or less is removed from the county, to prevent its being levied upon, or is secreted, assigned, conveyed, or otherwise disposed of, with intent to defraud creditors, or to prevent the payment of debts; for the person removing and the person receiving the property with such intent, such cases are guilty of a misdemeanor, and may be tried in a court of special sessions.2

They have also jurisdiction to try for misdemeanors, in removing oysters from oyster beds.3

Upon a complaint against a person for being a disorderly person, the magistrate cannot proceed to organize a court of special sessions, and, on conviction, punish the accused by fine and imprisonment."

Most of the special acts confering jurisdiction upon the courts of special sessions in particular localities, were passed prior to the act of 1857, above cited, which conferred general powers of jurisdiction upon the courts of Special Sessions in the State, except in the city and county of New York and the city of Albany, but a synopsis of the jurisdiction of those courts in particular local. ities is hereafter given. In several of the cases where local jurisdiction is given, the acts of the Legislature also provide that those courts shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine the complaints, whether the prisoner shall request to be tried or not. Under the decisions in the Court of Appeals, the special legislation upon this subject, requiring the defendant to be tried in a Court of Special Sessions, and in effect denying him the right to give bail to appear before a tribunal where a common law jury of twelve men could be obtained, is unconstitutional

[blocks in formation]

and void, on the ground that the party accused is thereby deprived of the right of trial by jury, guaranteed by the constitution.

Justice Parker, after reviewing the history of the court of Special Sessions since its first organization, and commenting upon its powers and jurisdiction, held, that a provision denying to a person arrested in this court the right to give bail, and compel

. ling him to be tried by the magistrate as a Court of Special Sessions, would be unconstitutional and void, and that the right to this election on the part of the accused even in the smallest offences triable in a court of Special Sessions, has always existed in this State, and existed in full force and unimpaired at the time of the adoption of the present constitution.”



This court was formerly held by any three of the police justices of said city and county, who were to set alternately, except that one of their number might be selected to preside, but by the act of 1865,4 it is now held by the two police justices, elected respectively in the Second and Sixth Judicial Districts of said city and county, and the said justices now exclusively possess and exercise all the powers heretofore possessed and exercised by the said Court of Special Sessions as the said court was theretofore organized and held. In case of the sickness, absence or disability of either of the said two police justices, it is lawful for the other to hold the court.

The New York General Term, in a case brought before them upon appeal from this court, said :

We think there is no authority for one justice to hold a court of Special Sessions, except in the case stated in the act. The provision allowing one justice to hold the court in the absence of the other, must be construed as providing for an absence from

[merged small][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »