Legal Authority for Odd Propositions (Missouri and, updated, New Jersey divisions): “The people of this state are not idiots.”

“The people of this state are not idiots.”  State, on Inf. McKittrick v. Wymore, 345 Mo. 169, 184, 132 S.W.2d 979, 988 (1939); see State v. Winne, 21 N.J. Super. 180, 225, 91 A.2d 65, 87 (Ch. Div. 1952) rev’d on other grounds, 12 N.J. 152, 96 A.2d 63 (1953) (“The people of this State are not idiots.”).

Oddly enough, both cases involve prosecutors, public corruption, and gambling, although the later New Jersey case does not cite the earlier Missouri one.  The New Jersey opinion ends with a great flourish:

The people of this State are not idiots. They do not need to be expert in the niceties of the common law to realize the vast power of the county prosecutor and the capacity his office affords for moral leadership in the field of law enforcement. They sense intuitively the respect which his office can engender in police circles, and his obligation to be zealous in this field in the pursuit of public justice. The people do not expect their ‘minister of justice’ to be a witch hunter, or to pour out the resources of his effort by investigating grammar school picnics to learn whether some one is selling ‘chances’ on a chocolate cake. But on the other hand, they realize that syndicated crime in the field of gambling spawns and nourishes official corruption. By television and other modern communications, and in the press, as well as in Grand Jury rooms, the people have finally had a look at the scoundrels who have presided at the tawdry feast of politics and crime, of official corruption and graft. They have emerged from the coma of complacency of the two post-war periods which our *226 generation has seen, and have become more sophisticated. The know that is **88 meant in underworld parlance when a community is said to be ‘wide open’ or ‘closed up tight’, and are aware that these conditions are responsive to the attitude of those charged with enforcement of the law. I am sure the public is unconvinced by breast thumping that wide-spread syndicated crime can exist notoriously and corrupt the law enforcement machinery of our communities, and the State remain powerless.
State v. Winne, 21 N.J. Super. at 225-26, 91 A.2d at 87-88.

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