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Bradford v. State

Decided: May 4, 1964.


Appeal from the Criminal Court of Baltimore; Grady, J.

Brune, C. J., and Henderson, Prescott, Horney and Marbury, JJ, and reargued before the entire Court. Horney, J., delivered the opinion of the Court. Henderson, J., filed the dissenting opinion, in which Sybert, J., concurs.


In this criminal case, we are confronted for the first time with questions as to which party -- the prosecution or the defendant -- has the burden of proof on the issue of insanity and as to which degree of proof -- beyond a reasonable doubt or preponderance of the evidence -- should be applied.

These appeals are from the judgments entered by the lower court after it had found the defendant (Carl David Bradford, Sr.) guilty in a nonjury trial of several cases involving statutory rape and assaults of female children ranging in age from eleven to fourteen years.

The defendant, who owned and operated a grocery store in Baltimore City, resided with his sister in living quarters above the store. He employed several young girls of the neighborhood on a part time basis to work in the store. One of them, with the permission of her parents, who were moving to the country, came to live with the defendant and his sister so as to be able to continue attending a nearby public school and working in the store. She had her own room in the apartment above the store, and, on two occasions, while she was a member of the household, the defendant entered her room in the nighttime and had sexual intercourse with her. On other occasions, when the defendant was alone in the store with other of his young female employees, he used obscene language, made indecent solicitations, and molested them by placing his hands on them.

Following his arraignment, at which he filed pleas of not guilty by reason of insanity, the defendant was confined for approximately two months in the Clifton T. Perkins State Hospital for a determination of his mental status.

At the trial of the defendant, Dr. Victor Gregory, a psychiatrist on the staff at Perkins, testified that after examining the defendant on numerous occasions, he was of the opinion that he had a chronic brain syndrome with a paranoid type of schizophrenic reaction. On the basis of this conclusion, he thought that the defendant "was unable to distinguish right from wrong and adhere to the right" on the dates the offenses were committed. His opinion was shared by Dr. Murray, another member of the hospital staff. On cross-examination, Dr. Gregory produced the hospital report signed by Dr. Cushard, the superintendent, and Dr. Hamilton, the clinical director. The report was based on a finding made at a staff conference at which the defendant was present. In essence, the report stated that, although the defendant suffered from a mild chronic brain syndrome, he was a responsible agent at the time of the commission of the offenses and that he had sufficient mental capacity to stand trial. But the report did not express the unanimous opinion of the three psychiatrists (Drs. Gregory, Hamilton and Murray) who were at the conference. Although Dr. Cushard signed the report, he did not attend the conference. Nor did he ever examine the defendant. Dr. Hamilton, who had not observed the defendant prior to the conference, concluded that he was sane, whereas Drs. Gregory and Murray were of the opinion that he was mentally irresponsible.

Dr. Oscar G. Prado, a psychiatrist on the staff of the State Department of Mental Hygiene, was ordered by the lower court to observe the defendant and to express an opinion in relation to the insanity plea. His report, based on a single examination, stated that the defendant was a responsible agent at the time of the commission of the offenses and that he was competent to stand trial. At the trial, Dr. Prado testified that at the time of the offenses the defendant "was not deprived, by reason of insanity, of the capacity to distinguish between right and wrong and the nature and consequences of his actions." He was not present at the staff conference held at Perkins.

No evidence was offered by the defendant denying that he had committed the offenses with which he was charged. Nor was there any evidence that he did not have sufficient capacity to advise as to the conduct of his defense. The sole defense

was rested on the ground that he was insane at the time the various offenses were committed.

In reviewing the evidence before announcing his verdicts, the trial judge -- after observing that "the presumption of sanity carries until the defendant raises a serious question as to [his] sanity" and that the lack of unanimity on the part of the hospital staff made it "impossible [for the judge] to give an opinion which would reflect on the condition of the patient" -- stated that the opinion expressed by Dr. Gregory was not specific "under the Maryland test for legal insanity," and then found that "the defendant was sane at the time of the commission of the alleged offenses mentioned in the indictments, and that he is sane today."

On appeal, the defendant contends: (i) that there was sufficient evidence to overcome the presumption of sanity; (ii) that once this presumption has been rebutted, the State has the burden of proving sanity beyond a reasonable doubt; and (iii) that the State did not successfully meet the burden cast upon it.


In this nonjury case, it was the function of the lower court to evaluate the conflicting evidence on the issue of sanity and to determine whether or not the presumption of sanity had been rebutted. While it is the function of this Court to review both the law and the evidence, we cannot set aside the findings of the lower court on the evidence unless clearly erroneous. Dunn v. State, 226 Md. 463, 174 A.2d 185 (1961); Saldiveri v. State, 217 Md. 412, 143 A.2d 70 (1958); Maryland Rule 886 a.

All of the courts in this country are in agreement that there is a presumption that all persons are sane and responsible for their acts at the time of the commission of a criminal offense. See Weihofen, Mental Disorder As A Criminal Defense, p. 214. See also Saldiveri v. State, supra, at p. 423. This presumption is a creature of necessity and serves principally to save time in the trial of the issues presented by the pleadings. Otherwise a great deal of time and effort would be wasted if in every case the prosecution had to introduce full evidence of sanity ...

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