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URAM v. AMERICAN STEEL & WIRE COMPANY NEW JERSEY. (11/15/54)

November 15, 1954

URAM, APPELLANT,
v.
AMERICAN STEEL & WIRE COMPANY OF NEW JERSEY.



Appeal, No. 77, March T., 1954, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Jan. T., 1946, No. 3323, in case of Stephen Uram v. The American Steel & Wire Company of New Jersey. Judgment affirmed. Trespass. Before DREW, J. Verdict for defendant; plaintiff's motion for new trial refused. Plaintiff appealed.

COUNSEL

Louis Vaira, with him J. Thomas Hoffman, for appellant.

Chauncey Pruger, with him Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, for appellee.

Before Stern, C.j., Stearne, Jones, Chidsey, Musmanno and Arnold, JJ.

[ 379 Pa. Page 375]

OPINION PER CURIAM

The judgment is affirmed on the opinion of Judge DREW for the court en banc. The verdict for the defendant resulted from a fair trial. The case was painstakingly

[ 379 Pa. Page 376]

    submitted to the jury in a thorough and impartial charge at the conclusion whereof plaintiff's counsel, upon direct inquiry from the trial judge, expressly disclaimed any cause for complaint. The strictures now passed by the appellant on the conduct of the trial are unwarranted. The one cited instance of irritation shown by the trial judge occurred when it became necessary for him to caution a witness, called by the plaintiff, against any repetition of the witness's gratuitous injection into the case of highly irrelevant and prejudicial matter and was directly provoked by the witness's insolent and contumacious attitude toward the court's justified rebuke. The ultimate exclusion of certain evidence, which the trial judge had invited plaintiff's counsel to produce, was not error. The proffered testimony was at all times irrelevant and immaterial and had no proper place in the case.

Disposition

Judgment affirmed.

ING OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE MUSMANNO:

Every judge, being human, can become angry, but every judge, being educated and conscientious, must know how to control his temper so that his wrath may not become the smoke of reason evaporation in the fires of personal controversy. Judicial equanimity is not so rare an article that it must be used parsimoniously during a trial. Particularly must a judge know how to bridle indignation and resentment in the presence of the jury because a jury is only too ready to ride any steed of emotion which the judge startles, urges, or spurs into action.

The jury regards the judge as the epitome of wisdom, the apogee of forbearance, the ultimate in propriety and the zenith of impartiality. Any fulmination, therefore, from the bench which strikes at a party litigant,

[ 379 Pa. Page 377]

    witness, or lawyer may easily be interpreted by the jury as the thunderbolt of aroused justice, and, from that moment, the target of the judge's Olympian rage can not expect an uninfluenced appraisement from the jury. Most often the display of ire from the bench has no bearing at all on the issue up for adjudication but the jury is not informed that they must ignore the high temper as they would ignore a high wind touching the roof of the courthouse.

Stephen Uram, the plaintiff in this case, owns in Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County, a 105-acre farm which is located about one-half mile from a zinc mill owned and operated by the defendant, The American Steel & Wire Company of New Jersey. Uram sued The American Steel & Wire Company of New Jersey for damages alleged to have been caused this farm by the smoke and fumes discharged from the defendant's mill, from 1939 to 1945. In developing his case before the jury the plaintiff called Vincent Makovich, a neighboring farmer, to testify as to conditions on and about the Uram farm. Makovich had lived in the area of the mill all his life. He was accordingly asked by plaintiff's counsel [Mr. Hoffman] if anything unusual had happened in Rostraver Township "with respect to the mill." The witness began to reply: "Yes, sir, we had 22 people die in -" when the following ensued: "Mr. Pruger: [Counsel for defendant] 'Oh, wait just a minute. I could ask for the withdrawal of a juror for that remark, but I am not going to because I am satisfied with this jury, but this man knows better than to make ...


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