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Opinion of the Court.
mony and in different parts of the charge. The first error assigned was in permitting, under the pleadings, the plaintiff below to make proof of boys besides himself, “at other times prior to the one when plaintiff below was injured, swinging to trains of defendant below other than the freight train which ran over and injured him.” The second error was as follows: “ Because the proof introduced in accordance with the pleadings wholly fails to show that defendant below was guilty of any negligence whatever in running its freight train as alleged, at the time and place alleged, over the plaintiff below, but, on the contrary, shows that plaintiff's injury was the result of his Qun gross negligence.” This second error, therefore,. rested on essentially the same ground as the first, in that it claimed there was a failure of proof, if the evidence were confined to that contended to be alone admissible under the pleadings. The thirteenth error reads thus : “ Because, from the uncontroverted facts in the record, the verdict should have been for defendant."
The assignment nowhere specifically alleged that the Circuit Court erred as matter of law, in the entry of judgment. because there was no evidence to go to the jury, nor is there any allusion to the statute hereafter referred to.
The Supreme Court of Tennessee affirmed the judgment in these words : “ This cause was heard upon the transcript of the record from the Circuit Court of Haywood County, and the court adjudges that there is no evidence to support the verdict of the jury, but the defendant having obtained three verdicts of separate juries upon different trials, two of which have been heretofore set aside by the circuit judge ; and now, alone upon this ground, the statute of Tennessee forbidding the granting of more than two new trials in the same cause on the facts, which statute is not in conflict with the Constitution of the United States, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, it is considered by this court that said judgment be affirmed, and that defendant in error, Eddie Woodson, by W. II. Lea, as next friend, recover of the plaintiff in error, The Louisville and Nashville Railroad. Company, the sum of three thousand dollars ($3000), amount of judgment of court below and the costs of said court, etc."
Opinion of the Court.
A writ of error was sued out from this court upon the ground that the validity of a statute of the State of Tennessee was drawn in question, as being repugnant to the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, and that the decision was in favor of its validity. A motion is now made to dismiss the writ of error and with it is united a motion to affirm the judgment.
In each of the constitutions of the State of Tennessee of 1796, 1834 and 1870, it is declared that “the right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate,” and also that “judges shall not charge juries with respect to matters of fact, but may state the testimony and declare the law.” Const. 1796, Art. 11, sec. 6; Art. 5, sec. 5 ; 1834, Art. 1, sec. 6; Art. 6, sec. 9; 1870, Art. 1, sec. 6; Art. 6, sec. 9. The purpose of this latter provision was stated in Ivey v. Ilodges, 4 Humphrey, 155, to be to put a stop to the practice in summing up, of “ telling the jury not what was deposed to, but what was proved.”
In Claxton v. State, 2 Humphrey, 181, it was held that where the court charged the jury that if they should find a special verdict which presented the testimony of one of the witnesses as the facts of the case, he should declare it a case of manslaughter, “this charge announced a conclusion of law upon a hypothetical state of facts, and did not trench upon the constitutional rights of the defendant."
And so in Williams v. Norwood, 2 Yerger, 329, the court decided that “a party has a right to the opinion of the court, distinctly as to the law, whether certain facts constitute probable cause or not, if the jury believe the facts as stated were proved."
Since 1801 there has been upon the statute book of the State of Tennessee the following provision: “Not more than two new trials shall be granted to the same party in any action at law; or upon the trial by jury of an issue of fact in equity.” Acts 1801, c. 6, sec. 59; Laws Tenn. 1831, p. 229; Code 1858, sec. 3122, p. 590; Code Tennessee, 1884, sec. 3835,
In Trott v. I’est, 10 Yerger, 499, 500 (1837), the Supreme Court of Tennessee sayt that this statute means that where
Opinion of the Court.
the facts of the case have been fairly left to the jury upon a proper charge of the court, and they have twice found a verdict for the same party, each of which having been set aside by the court, if the same party obtain another verdict in like manner, it shall not be disturbed. But this act did not intend to prevent the court granting new trials for error in the charge of the court to the jury, for error in the admission of, or rejection of testimony, for misconduct of the jury, and the like.” Turner v. R088, 1 Humphrey, 16 (1839); East Tennessee &c. Railroad Co. v. Hackney, 1 Head, 169 (1858).
In Knoxville Iron Co. v. Dobson, 15 Lea, 409, 416 (1885), it is said that this court has uniformly held that the statute was intended to limit the power of the courts over the findings of fact by the jury upon regular proceedings and a correct charge. If the court in the same case has set aside, upon the motion of the same party, thé, verdicts of two juries, upon the ground that the evidence is not sufficient to sustain them, the power of the court is at an end to grant another new trial to the same party upon the facts or merits.
The statute does not prevent the granting of new trials for errors committed by the court, or for improper conduct which may vitiate the verdict." Wilson v. Greer, 7 Humphrey, 513.
In Tate v. Gray, 4 Sneed, 591, 594, it was held that it is the duty of the circuit judge “to grant a new trial in all cases where he believes the preponderance of the proof is decidedly against the finding;” and that “although by the theory of our system the jury are the proper and exclusive triers of the facts, yet the law · requires the circuit judge, who is presumed to have more practice and skill in the investigation of truth, to set aside their verdicts, whenever in his opinion they have disregarded or misconceiyed the force of proof, that a new trial may be had."
From these decisions it is clear that in Tennessee, as elsewhere, although the jury are the judges of the facts, yet the judge has power to set aside the verdict when, in his judgment, it is against the weight of the evidence, but that that supervisory power cannot be exercised under the statute when the triers of the facts have three times determined them
Opinion of the Court.
the same way. This manifestly refers to a state of case where, . in the opinion of the judge, the verdict should have been otherwise than as rendered, because of the insufficiency of the evidence to sustain it, but not to a case where there is no evidence at all. It is the settled law of this court that " when the evidence given at the trial, with all inferences that the jury could justifiably draw from it, is insufficient to support a verdict for the plaintiff, so that such a verdict, if returned, must be set 'aside, the court is not bound to submit the case to the jury, but may direct a verdict for the defendant;" Randall v. Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, 109 U. S. 478, 482; Gunther v. Liverpool &c. Ins. Co., ante, 110; while, on the other hand, the case should be left to the jury, unless the conclusion follows, as matter of law, that no recovery can be had upon any view which can be properly taken of the facts the evidence tends to establish. Dunlap v. Northeastern Railroad Co., 130 U. S. 649, 652. In such case the practice of a demurrer to the evidence can be resorted to, or a motion to exclude the evidence from the jury, or to instruct them that the plaintiff cannot recover, which motions are in the nature of demurrers to evidence, though less technical, and have in many of the States superseded the ancient practice of a demurrer to evidence. Parks v. Ross, 11 How. 362; Schuchardt v. Allens, 1 Wall. 359. Such a motion, like the demurrer to evidence, admits not only what the testimony proves, but what it tends to prove. The ultimate facts, in other words, are admitted. In Bacon v. Parker, 2 Overton, 55, 57, it was decided that. an involuntary non-suit could not be ordered, but a demurrer to evidence was allowed in Bedford v. Ingram, 5 Haywood (Tenn.) 155; and it must be that as the duty devolves upon the judge “to declare the law,” he may be requested, in some form, to advise the jury that the plaintiff cannot recover when that is the conclusion of law arising upon ine record, and should do so though not specifically directed. It is true that it was held in Kirtland v. Montgomery, 1 Swan (Tenn.) 452, that it was error for the trial judge to assume to answer both the questions of law and the questions of fact involved in that case, which was one, however, in which there was evidence
Opinion of the Court.
raising questions of fact to be determined; and in Ayres v. Moulton, 5 Coldwell, 154, it was held error in the circuit judge to charge the jury that from the facts as proven the plaintiffs
“entitled to recover of the defendant the sum sued for," because the facts to be deduced from the evidence must be left exclusively to the jury.” But that also was a case wbere it evidently did not follow from the ultimate facts that the plaintiffs were entitled as matter of law to recover as stated. To the same effect is Case v. Williams, 2 Coldwell, 239, where it was ruled thåt if the charge of the trial judge“ be equivalent to a determination of the facts involved, a new trial will be granted.” This is and must be so, whenever there are deductions of fact to be drawn by the jury, but where that is not the case, although a direct instruction to return a verdict for the defendant may not be in accordance with the practice in Tennessee, yet the decisions show that the question whether a recovery can be had at all or not, can be presented in some appropriate form in that State.
Thus, in Whirley v. Whiteman, 1 Head, 616, it is said: “In trials by jury, the court is to decide the questions of law; and the jury, questions of fact; what are called mixed questions, consisting of both law and fact, as questions in respect to the degree of care, skill, diligence, etc., required by law in particular cases, are to be submitted to the jury, under proper instructions from the court, as to the rules and principles of law by which they are to be governed in their determination of the case. The truth of the facts and circumstances offered in evidence, in support of the allegations on the record, must be determined by the jury. But it is for the court to decide, whether or not those facts and circumstances, if found by the jury to be true, are sufficient in point of law, to maintain the allegations in the pleadings. And this must be done in one of two modes; either the court must inform the jury hypothetically whether or not the facts which the evidence tends to prove, will, if established in the opinion of the jury, satisfy the allegations; or, the jury must find the facts specially, and then the court will apply the law and pronounce whether or not the facts so found are sufficient to support the averments