State v. Schleifer

In State v. Schleifer, 99 Conn. 432, 121 A. 805 (1923), on appeal after remand, 102 Conn. 708, 130 A. 184 (1925) the defendant addressed an assemblage of striking railroad workers and urged them to commit acts of violence that clearly were felonies and misdemeanors. The information charged that the defendant "did unlawfully solicit, urge, command, counsel and endeavor to incite, cause and procure some or all of a large number of persons assembled, to the State's Attorney unknown, to perpetrate or attempt to perpetrate the crimes of murder, robbery, aggravated assault with deadly or dangerous weapons, assault with intent to murder and assault with intent to rob, the same being felonies or aggravated crimes akin to felonies . . . ." State v. Schleifer, supra, 99 Conn. 433-34. The defendant's oral address to the workers was as follows: "You will never win the strike with soft methods. You young men ought to go out on the bridge. Don't use eggs, use coal or indelible ink. Break foremen's windows at their homes. Watch the scabs when they come from work, lay for them, especially on pay day. Take them in a dark alley and hit them with a lead pipe. That is the softest thing you can use. Reimburse yourselves for what we have sacrificed for five months. Don't forget to bump off a few now and then, so Mr. Pearson will know that you are not getting cold feet. You car men know how to take a brake-shoe off. Take the brake-shoe and put it under something that will put the cars off the irons. A little sand or emery in the journal boxes will help greatly. Don't be satisfied with trimming the engines. Put some of the cars on the bum. Also if convenient, put something in between the frames and rods of engines on sidings. Get busy young fellows, and trim these scabs. Things are running too smooth on the New Haven road, but let me hear from you while I am here. Go ahead and rip things and don't let the injunction stop you from trimming these scabs. Don't forget to tie them up with derailments. You boys ought to cut them all up." State v. Schleifer, supra, 99 Conn. 434. The trial court quashed the information. Id., 434. In so doing, that court held in part that "while it cannot be seriously denied that the public utterances in a promiscuous assembly of such entreaties and exhortations as are charged in this information, are highly prejudicial to the public peace, and ought to be seriously penalized, it is a situation that should be met by appropriate legislation. In Schleifer, the Supreme Court held that "a mere solicitation by itself is never an attempt. And the inciting or urging, whether it be by a letter or word of mouth, is a mere solicitation, and it does not change its character if the solicitation to crime is accompanied by a bribe as an inducement to its commission." Id., 438. In determining that "a mere solicitation by itself is never an attempt," the Schleifer court also held that "an attempt necessarily includes the intent to commit a crime, and also an act of endeavor adapted and intended to effectuate the purpose. . . . The act of endeavor must be some act done in part execution of a design to commit the crime." Id. That reasoning gives rise to the inquiry, as Schleifer opined, "of what sort must be the overt act necessary to satisfy the definition of an attempt . . . ." Id. The court in Schleifer reasoned that although it was clear that "the act need not be the next preceding on proximate act necessary to consummation of the crime intended . . . the mere offer of money, or solicitation, to commit a crime is not the sort of act necessary to satisfy the definition of attempt." Id.