Entrapping A Witness
An illustration of his dexterity in compassing an unfortunate culprit's
acquittal may be here narrated.
He was employed in defending a prisoner who was tried for a murder
committed in the vicinity of Cork. The principal witness swore strongly
against the prisoner--one corroborative circumstance was, that the
prisoner's hat was found near the place where the murder took place. The
witness swore positively
he hat produced was the one found, and that it
belonged to the prisoner, whose name was James.
By virtue of your oath, are you positive that this is the same hat?
Yes. Did you examine it carefully before you swore in your
informations that it was the prisoner's? Yes. Now, let me see,
said O'Connell, and he took up the hat, and began carefully to examine
the inside. He then spelled aloud the name James--slowly,
thus:--J--a--m--e--s. Now, do you mean those words were in the hat
when you found it? I do. Did you see them there. I did. This is
the same hat? It is. Now, my Lord, said O'Connell, holding up the
hat to the Bench, there is an end to the case--there is no name
whatever inscribed in the hat. The result was instant acquittal.