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State v. Hall

Decided: May 4, 1965.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
JAN COLWELL HALL, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Goldmann, Sullivan and Labrecque. The opinion of the court was delivered by Sullivan, J.A.D.

Sullivan

[87 NJSuper Page 481] Defendant was convicted of seduction under N.J.S. 2A:142-2 which provides:

"Any single man over the age of 18 years who, under promise of marriage, has sexual intercourse with a single female of good repute for chastity, under the age of 21 years, she thereby becoming pregnant, is guilty of a high misdemeanor.

If the offender marries the female at any time before sentence, the sentence shall be suspended and he shall be discharged from custody; and if he marries the female after sentence, he shall be discharged from imprisonment."

It is unnecessary to set forth the details of the unhappy affair except to note that it is not disputed that the prosecutrix was under the age of 21 years, defendant had sexual intercourse with her on the date alleged, and she became pregnant.

At his trial defendant denied that he had promised to marry the prosecutrix or that he had sexual intercourse with her under promise of marriage. Nor would he admit that he was the father of the child born to the prosecutrix, although he admitted the truth of prosecutrix's story that he had intercourse with her on the day the child was allegedly conceived.

The jury returned a verdict of "guilty as charged" and defendant received a sentence of four to six years in State Prison. Judgment of conviction was duly entered. Defendant has appealed from said judgment. During the pendency of the appeal the prosecutrix married another man. Defendant, pursuant to leave granted by this court, thereupon moved before the trial court for an order discharging him from the sentence of imprisonment. (Actually, defendant had been admitted to bail, which has been continued pending appeal.) The matter was heard by a judge other than the trial judge and defendant's motion was denied in an opinion reported at 85 N.J. Super. 312 (Cty. Ct. 1964). Defendant has also appealed this ruling. Both appeals have been consolidated.

The appeals present six arguments for reversal: (1) the State failed to prove an essential element of the crime, namely, that the alleged promise of marriage was the inducing cause of prosecutrix's engaging in sexual intercourse with defendant; (2) the trial court failed to properly charge the jury as to that essential element of the crime charged; (3) the trial court rejected defendant's attempt to show that

the alleged promise of marriage was not the inducing cause of prosecutrix's engaging in sexual intercourse; (4) defendant's motion for a post-trial examination of two jurors should have been granted; (5) the sentence imposed on defendant of four to six years in State Prison is manifestly excessive, and (6) the trial court should have granted defendant's motion to be discharged from imprisonment by reason of the marriage of the prosecutrix.

We have canvassed the entire record and conclude that the State produced adequate evidence from which the jury could have found beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant had promised to marry the prosecutrix and that such promise was the inducing cause of her engaging in sexual intercourse with him. So, too, we find in the court's charge adequate instructions that such inducement was an essential element of the crime. Nor do we see any merit to the contention that the trial court rejected defendant's attempt to show that the promise of marriage was not the inducing cause of prosecutrix's engaging in intercourse with defendant. The questions asked of prosecutrix on cross-examination by defendant's attorney were not relevant or material to the question of inducement and the court properly limited counsel.

Defendant's motion for a post-trial examination of two jurors was based on an affidavit of a member of the bar of this State, stating that:

"I was in the Crest Restaurant when two of the members of the jury in the case of State v. Jan Hall came into the restaurant subsequent to the return of the verdict. They proceeded to discuss the deliberations that took place among the various jurors. They stated that the jury in fact failed to deliberate, but that immediately upon entering the jury room 10 of the jurors stated that the defendant was guilty and refused to consider the matter any ...


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