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States have thought it prudent, though perhaps not necessary, to put upon their statutes what they deem to be the law upon this subject, and at the same time to define the fines and penalties that should follow the violation of it. In some of the States it is made a criminal offense to willfully interrupt or disturb any public, private, or select school. (28 Conn. 232.) The Ohio statute says: That, if any person or persons shall hereafter willfully disturb, molest, or interrupt any literary society, school, or society formed for the intellectual improvement of its members, or any other school or society organized under any law of this State, or any school, society, or meeting, formed or convened for improvement in music, letters, or for social amusement, such person or persons so offending shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction thereof shall be fined in any sum not less than five nor more than twenty dollars, with costs of prosecution, and shall stand committed until such fine shall have been paid : Provided such commitment shall not exceed five days; and provided, further, that the judgment for costs shall not be abated until such costs shall have been fully paid. (Laws of 1864.) Every person who shall at any time willfully interrupt or disturb any district school, or any public, private, or select school, while the same is in session, shall pay a fine not exceeding seven dollars, nor less than one dollar, or shall suffer imprisonment in the county jail for not more than thirty days, or shall suffer such fine and imprisonment both, at the discretion of the court. (School
Laws of Conn. 1864.) This special enactment does not render any general law nugatory, but enables the proseonting officer to reach more readily the cases mentioned in this act. (Id.) The Rhode Island statute reads as follows: Every person who shall be convicted of willfully interrupting or disturbing any town or ward meeting, any assembly of people met for religious worship, or any public or private school, or any meeting lawfully and peaceably held for purposes of literary or scientific improvement, either within or without the place where such meeting or school is held, shall be imprisoned not exceeding one year, or fined not exceeding five hundred dollars. A complaint for this offense may be made to the attorney-general, or any justice of the peace. (School Laws of R. I. 1857, p. 55.) Any person who shall willfully disturb any public school, or any public school meeting, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and liable to a fine of not less than ten nor more than one hundred dollars. (Revised School Laws of Cal. 1866, sec. 113.) The following is the language of the NewYork statute: Any person who shall willfully disturb, interrupt, or disquiet any district school in session, or any persons assembled, with the permission of the trustees of the district, in any district school-house, for the purpose of giving or receiving instruction in any branch of education or learning, or in the science or practice of music, shall forfeit twenty-five dollars, for the benefit of the school district. (N. Y. School Laws, 1866, p. 77.) It shall be the duty of the trustees of
the district, or the teacher of the school, and he shall have power, to enter a complaint against such offender before any justice of the peace of the county, or the mayor, or any alderman, recorder, or other magistrate of the city wherein the offense was committed. The magistrate or other officer before whom the complaint is made shall thereupon by his warrant, directed to any constable or person, cause the person complained of to be arrested and brought before him for trial. If such person, on the charge being stated to him, shall plead guilty, the magistrate shall convict him; and, if he demands a trial by the magistrate, shall summarily try him; and, if he demands a trial by jury, the magistrate shall issue a venire, and impanel a jury for his trial, and he shall be tried in the same manner as in a court of special sessions. (Id. p. 78, sec. 4.) If any person convicted of the said offense do not immediately pay the penalty, with the costs of the prosecution, or give security to the satisfaction of the magistrate for the payment thereof within twenty days, the magistrate or other officer shall commit him to the common jail of the county, there to be imprisoned until the penalty and costs be paid, but not exceeding thirty days. (Id. sec. 5.) The law in Massachusetts is pretty much the same. (General Statutes of Mass. ch. 165, sec. 23.) But, as we before intimated, no statutory law is necessary. The general intendment and spirit of our common law is sufficient to protect our schools from being willfully disturbed, interrupted, or disquieted. The common law recognizes no distinction between wrong-doers, and in none of the statutes is there any clause favoring or excepting parents ; consequently, if they disturb or disquiet a school, they are not excusable, but are subject to the same penalties as others. It is the policy of the States generally to encourage education, and all wellconducted schools are, in a certain sense, regarded as the wards of the State in which they are.
Hence it will not allow any of them to be disturbed, disquieted, or interrupted with impunity-evening-schools no more than day-schools. Even a private school kept in a district school-house for instruction in the art of writing will be protected, or at least those who disturb it willfully will be punished. (The State v. Leighton, 35 Maine, 185.)
SEC. 5. Character on trial.-When a teacher is put on trial for assault and battery, he should not omit to prove his good character. Every man who lives long enough to acquire a good character is entitled to the benefit of it when in peril. It has been usual to treat the good character of the party accused as evidence to be taken into consideration only in doubtful cases. Juries have generally been told that, where the facts proved are such as to satisfy their minds of the guilt of the party, character, however excellent, is no subject for their consideration ; but that, when they entertain any doubt as to the guilt of the party, they may properly turn their attention to the good character which he has received. (Bennet v. State, Humph. 118.) It is, however, submitted with deference, that the good character of the party accused, satisfactorily established by competent witnesses, is an ingredient which ought always to be submitted to the consideration of the jury, together with the other facts and circumstances of the case. The nature of the charge, and the evidence by which it is supported, will often render such ingredients of little or no avail; but the more correct course seems to be, not in any case to withdraw it from consideration, but to leave the jury to form their conclusion upon the whole of the evidence, whether an individual, whose character was previously unblemished, has or has not committed the particular crime for which he is called upon to answer. (2 Rus. on Cr. 8th Am. ed. 785 ; Rex v. Stanard, 7 C. & P. 673; 32 Eng. Com. Law R. 681; see also i Cox R. 424; 2 Mass. R. 317; 9 Barb. 609; 14 Missouri, 502; 10 B. Monroe's R. 225; 8 Smedes & Mars. R. 401 ; 3 Strobh. R.517; 1 Wheeler’s Cr. Ca. 64; 1 City Hall Rec. 11, 82; Rosco's Cr. Ev. 97; 1 Taylor on Ev. 258; 5 Cush. 295; Archbold's Cr. P. & P. 400; 2 Stark. Ev. 365; 2 Halsted's Law of Ev. 150; and 1 Greenlf. Ev. 54, 55.)