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COFFIN v. UNITED STATES.

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES


decided: March 4, 1895.

COFFIN
v.
UNITED STATES.

ERROR TO THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE DISTRICT OF INDIANA.

Author: White

[ 156 U.S. Page 446]

 MR. JUSTICE WHITE, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court.

Many of the exceptions taken during the trial and the requests to charge which were refused, as well as most of the exceptions to the charge as given, relate to the counts of the indictment which were quashed on the motion in arrest. All these questions are, therefore, eliminated. We shall hence only consider the matters which are pertinent to the remaining courts, and shall examine first the objections made to the indictment generally, based upon the contention that all the counts fail to charge an offence; second, the exceptions reserved to rulings of the court during the trial, the effect of which is to assail the verdict and judgment without reference to the validity of the indictment. In making this examination we shall concentrate the errors complained of in proper order, thus obviating repetition -- for the matters to be considered are all reiterated by way of objection to the evidence, of exception to the refusal to charge as requested, and of complaints of the charges which the court actually gave.

1st. It is contended that no offence is stated against the aiders and abettors, because in none of the counts is it asserted that

[ 156 U.S. Page 447]

     they were officers of the bank or occupied any specific relation to the bank which made aiding and abetting possible. The language of the statute fully answers this contention. It provides that "every president, director, cashier, teller, clerk, or agent of any association, who," etc., and adds, after defining the acts which are made misdemeanors, "that every person who with like intent aids and abets," etc. The phrase, "every person," is manifestly broader then the enumeration made in the first portion of the statute. In other words, the unambiguous letter of the law is that every president, director, agent, etc., who commits the designated offences shall suffer the penalties provided; and that every person who aids or abets such officer, etc. The argument is that no one but an officer or an agent can be punished as an aider and abettor, and hence that every person who aids and abets, not being an officer, shall go unwhipped of justice. To adopt the construction contended for would destroy the letter and violate the spirit of the law. For the letter says, "every person who aids and abets," and the proposition is that we should make it say every officer or agent who aids and abets. The spirit and purpose of the statute is to punish the president, cashier, officer, or agent, etc., and likewise to punish every person who aids and abets. The assertion that one who is not an officer or who bears no official relation to the bank cannot, in the nature of things, aid or abet an official of the bank in the misapplication of its funds, is an argument which, if sound, should be addressed to the legislative and not the judicial department. We cannot destroy the law on the theory that the acts which it forbids cannot be committed. In other words, the construction which we are asked to give does not deal with the meaning of the statute, but simply involves the claim that it is impossible to prove the commission of the offence defined by the law. The question whether the proof shows the commission of an offence is one of fact and not of law. The citation made from United States v. Northway, 120 U.S. 327, 333, is not apposite. True, we there said: "The acts charged against Fuller could only be committed by him by virtue of his official relation to the bank; the acts charged against the

[ 156 U.S. Page 448]

     defendant likewise could only be committed by him in his official capacity." But in that case the indictment itself charged Northway, as president and agent, with aiding and abetting Fuller, the cashier of the bank, and the language quoted referred to the matter under consideration, and hence it was incidentally stated that the proof and averment must correspond.

Nor is the contention sound that the particular act by which the aiding and abetting was consummated must be specifically set out. The general rule upon this subject is stated in United States v. Simmons, 96 U.S. 360, 363, as follows: "Nor was it necessary, as argued by counsel for the accused, to set forth the special means employed to effect the alleged unlawful procurement. It is laid down as a general rule that 'in an indictment for soliciting or inciting to the commission of a crime, or for aiding or assisting in the commission of it, it is not necessary to state the particulars of the incitement or solicitation, or of the aid or assistance.' 2 Wharton, § 1281; United States v. Gooding, 12 Wheat. 460." The form-books give the indictment substantially as it appears here. Bishop's Forms, § 114, p. 52. Nothing in Evans v. United States, 153 U.S. 584, conflicts with these views. In that case the question was whether the 8th count stated misapplication of the funds, and not whether the particular acts by which the aiding and abetting were done were necessary to be set out in the indictment. On the contrary, the counts there held good charged the aiding and abetting in the very language found in the indictment in hand, "and the said Evans did then and there knowingly and unlawfully aid and abet the said cashier in such wilful misapplication with intent in him, the said Evans, to injure and defraud," etc.

2d. It is said that all the counts in the indictment are bad, because it is not charged that the aiders and abettors knew that Haughey was president of the bank at the time it is averred the acts were committed. The argument is this, the statute says that every person who with like intent aids or abets any officer, etc., therefore the fact that the aider or abettor knew that the person who misapplied the funds was

[ 156 U.S. Page 449]

     an officer, etc., must be specifically charged. Without considering the legal correctness of this proposition, it may be observed that it has no application to this cause. Each and every count here specifically avers that "the said Theodore P. Haughey, then and there being president of the bank," and "then and there by virtue of his said office as such president as aforesaid," "misapplied the funds" and having thus fully averred the relation of Haughey to the bank, and the commission of the acts complained of in his official capacity with intent to defraud, etc., the counts go on to charge that the plaintiffs in error did unlawfully, wilfully, feloniously, knowingly, and with intent to defraud, aid, and abet the "said Haughey as aforesaid." The words "as aforesaid" clearly relate to Haughey in the capacity in which it is stated that he committed the offence charged against him in the body of the indictment. Without entering into any nice question of grammar, or undertaking to discuss whether the word "said" before Haughey's name and the words "as aforesaid" which follow it are adverbial, we think the plain and unmistakable statement of the indictment as a whole is, that the acts charged against Haughey were done by him as president of the bank, and that the aiding and abetting was also knowingly done by assisting him in the official capacity in which alone it is charged that he misapplied the funds.

3d. It is further contended that all the counts of the indictment except the first are insufficient, because they fail to aver the actual conversion of the sum misapplied to the use of any particular person. This proposition is based on the case of United States v. Britton, 107 U.S. 655, 666, and United States v. Northway, 120 U.S. 327. In the Britton case we said, that "the wilful misapplication made an offence by this statute means a misapplication for the use, benefit, or gain of the party charged, or of some company or person other than the association. Therefore to constitute the offence of wilful misapplication there must be a conversion to his own use or to the use of some one else of the moneys and funds of the association by the party charged. This essential element of the offence is not averred in the counts

[ 156 U.S. Page 450]

     under consideration, but is negatived by the averment that the shares purchased by the defendant were held by him in trust for the use of the association, and there is no averment of a conversion by the defendant to his own use or the use of any other person of the funds used in the purchase of the shares. The counts, therefore, charge mal-administration of the affairs of the bank, rather than criminal misapplication of its funds." So in Northway's case we said, p. 332; "It is of the essence of the criminality of the misapplication that there should be a conversion of the funds to the use of the defendant or of some person other than the association." The various counts of the indictment here are all substantially alike in stating the conversion. We take the second as an example. That charges that Haughey, being president of the Indianapolis Bank, did then and there by virtue of his office as president of said bank unlawfully, feloniously, and wilfully misapply the moneys, funds, and credits of the bank, with intent to convert the same to the use of the Indianapolis Cabinet Company, by then and there causing said sum to be paid out of the moneys, funds, and credits of the bank, upon a check drawn upon the bank by the Indianapolis Cabinet Company, which check was then and there cashed and paid out of the funds and credit of the bank; which sum, and no part thereof, was the said Indianapolis Cabinet Company entitled to withdraw from the bank, because said company had no funds in the bank, and that the said company was then and there insolvent, which Haughey then and there well knew, whereby said sum became lost to the bank. This clearly states the misapplication and actual conversion of the money by the methods described, that is to say, by paying it out of the funds of the bank to a designated person when that person was not entitled to take the funds, and that owing to the insolvency of such person the money was lost to the bank. The fact that the count charges the intent to convert money to the use of the Indianapolis Cabinet Company does not obliterate the clear statement of the actual conversion. In this regard the count is clearer and

[ 156 U.S. Page 451]

     stronger than that held sufficient in Evans v. United States, supra.

4th. The following request was made and refused:

"Each of the forty-six counts of this indictment, except the 1st, the 40th, the 41st, and the 43d, alleges that certain facts therein referred to are unknown to the grand jury. Thus, the 2d, 3d, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th,11th, and 12th counts each aver a misapplication of the funds of said bank by said Haughey with intent to convert the same to the use of the Indianapolis Cabinet Company and to other persons to the grand jury unknown. The averment that the names of these persons were unknown to the grand jurors is a material averment, and is necessary to be proven by the government in order to make out its case in each of said counts, because in each of said counts the charge is of a misapplication of a single, definite, fixed sum with an intent to convert the same to the use, not merely of the cabinet company, but of other persons. If, as a matter of fact, no evidence has been placed before you showing or tending to show that the names of such persons were unknown to the grand jury, them, as to these counts, the government's case has failed."

In connection with this ruling the bill of exceptions states that there was no evidence whatever on the subject offered by either side, and nothing to indicate that there was knowledge in the grand jurors of the matter which the indictment declared to be to them unknown. The instruction was rightly refused. It presupposes that where there is an averment that a person or matter is unknown to a grand jury and no evidence upon the subject of such knowledge is offered by either side, acquittal must follow, while the true rule is that where nothing appears to the contrary, the verity of the averment of want of knowledge in the grand jury is presumed. Thus it was said in Commonwealth v. Thornton, 14 Gray, 41, 42: "The fact that the name of the person was in fact known, must appear from the evidence in the case. It is immaterial whether it so appears from the evidence offered by the government or that offered by the defendant. But there being no evidence to the contrary, the objection that the party was not unknown does

[ 156 U.S. Page 452]

     not arise." And subsequently, in Commonwealth v. Sherman, 13 Allen, 248, 250, the court observed: "It is always open to the defendant to move the judge before whom the trial is had to order the prosecuting attorney to give a more particular description, in the nature of a specification or bill of particulars, of the acts on which he intends to rely, and to suspend the trial until this can be done; and such an order will be made whenever it appears to be necessary to enable the defendant to meet the charge against him, or to avoid danger of injustice. Commonwealth v. Giles, 1 Gray, 469; The King v. Curwood, 3 Ad. & El. 815; Rosc. Crim. Ev. (6th ed.) 178, 179, 420." It is to be observed that none of the counts as to which the prosecution was called upon to specify remain, all having been eliminated by the action of the court on the motion in arrest.

This concludes the examination of all the general objections to the indictment which we deem it necessary to consider, and brings us to the exceptions taken to the refusals to charge, as well as those reserved to the charges actually given.

The 44th charge asked and refused was as follows:

"The law presumes that persons charged with crime are innocent until they are proven by competent evidence to be guilty. To the benefit of this presumption the defendants are all entitled, and this presumption stands as their sufficient protection unless it has been removed by evidence proving their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt."

Although the court refused to give this charge, it yet instructed the jury as follows: "Before you can find any one of the defendants guilty you must be satisfied of his guilt as charged in some of the counts of the indictment beyond a reasonable doubt." And, again: "You may find the defendants guilty on all the counts of the indictment if you are satisfied that beyond a reasonable doubt the evidence justifies it." And, finally, stating the matter more fully, it said: "To justify you in returning a verdict of guilty, the evidence must be of such a character as to satisfy you judgment to the exclusion of every reasonable doubt. If, therefore, you can reconcile the evidence with any reasonable hypothesis consistent

[ 156 U.S. Page 453]

     with the defendants' innocence, it is your duty to do so, and in that case find the defendants not guilty. And if, after weighing all the proofs and looking only to the proofs, you impartially and honestly entertain the belief that the defendants may be innocent of the offences charged against them, they are entitled to the benefit of that doubt and you should acquit them. It is not meant by this that the proof should establish their guilt to an absolute certainty, but merely that you should not convict unless, from all the evidence, you believe the defendants are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Speculative notions or possibilities resting upon mere conjecture, not arising or deducible from the proof, or the want of it, should not be confounded with a reasonable doubt. A doubt suggested by the ingenuity of counsel, or by your own ingenuity, not legitimately warranted by the evidence or the want of it, or one born of a merciful inclination to permit the defendants to escape the penalty of the law, or one prompted by sympathy for them or those connected with them, is not what is meant by a reasonable doubt. A reasonable doubt, as that term is employed in the administration of the criminal law, is an honest, substantial misgiving, generated by the proof or the want of it. It is such a state of the proof as fails to convince your judgment and conscience, and satisfy your reason of the guilt of the accused. If the whole evidence, when carefully examined, weighed, compared, and considered, produces in your minds a settled conviction or belief of the defendants' guilt -- such an abiding conviction or belief of the defendants' guilt -- such an abiding conviction as you would be willing to act upon in the most weighty and and important affairs of your own life -- you may be said to be free from any reasonable doubt, and should find a verdict in accordance with that conviction or belief."

The fact, then is that whilst the court refused to instruct as to the presumption of innocence, it instructed fully on the subject of reasonable doubt.

The principle that there is a presumption of innocence in favor of the accused is the undoubted law, axiomatic and elementary, and its enforcement lies at the foundation of the administration of our criminal law.

[ 156 U.S. Page 454]

     It is stated as unquestioned in the text-books, and has been referred to as a matter of course in the decisions of this court and in the courts of the several States. See Taylor on Evidence, vol. 1, c. 5, 126, 127; Wills on Circumstantial Evidence, c. 5, 91; Best on Presumptions, part 2, c. 1, 63, 64; c. 3, 31-58; Greenleaf on Evidence, part 5, §§ 29, &c.; 11 Criminal Law Magazine, 3; Wharton on Evidence, § 1244; Phillips on Evidence, Cowen & Hill's Notes, vol. 2, p. 289; Lilienthal v. United States, 97 U.S. 237; Hopt v. Utah, 120 U.S. 430; Commonwealth v. Webster, 5 Cush. 295, 320; State v. Bartlett, 43 N.H. 224; Alexander v. People, 96 Illinois, 96; People v. Fairchild, 48 Michigan, 31; People v. Millard, 53 Michigan, 63; Commonwealth v. Whittaker, 131 Mass. 224; Blake v. State, 3 Tex. App. 581; Wharton v. State, 73 Alabama, 366; State v. Tibbetts, 35 Maine, 81; Moorer v. State, 44 Alabama, 15.

Greenleaf traces this presumption to Deuteronomy, and quotes Mascardus De Probationibus to show that it was substantially embodied in the laws of Sparta and Athens. Greenl. Ev. part 5, section 29, note. Whether Greenleaf is correct or not in this view, there can be no question that the Roman law was pervaded with the results of this maxim of criminal administration, as the following extracts show:

"Let all accusers understand that they are not to prefer charges unless they can be proven by proper witnesses or by conclusive documents, or by circumstantial evidence which amounts to indubitable proof and is clearer than day." Code, L. IV, T. XX, 1, 1. 25.

The noble (bivus) Trajan wrote to Julius Frontonus that no man should be condemned on a criminal charge in his absence, because it was better to let the crime of a guilty person go unpunished than to condemn the innocent." Dig. L. XLVIII, Tit. 19, 1. 5.

"In all cases of doubt, the most merciful construction of facts should be preferred." Dig. L. L, Tit. XVII, 1. 56.

"In criminal cases the milder construction shall always be preserved." Dig. L. L, Tit. XVII, 1. 155, s. 2.

"In cases of doubt it is no less just than it is safe to adopt the milder construction." Dig. L. L, Tit. XVII, 1. 192, s. 1.

[ 156 U.S. Page 455]

     Ammianus Marcellinus relates an anecdote of the Emperor Julian which illustrates the enforcement of this principle in the Roman law. Numerius, the governor of Narbonensis, was on trial before the Emperor, and, contrary to the usage in criminal cases, the trial was public. Numerius contented himself with denying his guilt, and there was not sufficient proof against him. His adversary, Delphidius, "a passionate man," seeing that the failure of the accusation was inevitable, could not restrain himself, and exclaimed, "Oh, illustrious Caesar! if it is sufficient to deny, what hereafter will become of the guilty?" to which Julian replied, "If it suffices to accuse, what will become of the innocent?" Rerum Gestarum, L. XVIII, c. 1. The rule thus found in the Roman law was, along with many other fundamental and humane maxims of that system, preserved for mankind by the canon law. Decretum Gratiani de Presumptionibus, L. II, T. XXIII, c. 14, A.D. 1198; Corpus Juris Canonici Hispani et Indici, R.P. Murillo Velarde, Tom. 1, L. II, n. 140. Exactly when this presumption was in precise words stated to be a part of the common law is involved in doubt. The writer of an able article in the North American Review, January, 1851, tracing the genesis of the principle, says that no express mention of the presumption of innocence can be found in the books of the common law earlier than the date of McNally's Evidence (1802). Whether this statement is correct is a matter of no moment, for there can be no doubt that, if the principle had not found formal expression in the common law writers at an earlier date, yet the practice which flowed from it has existed in the common law from the earliest time.

Fortescue says: "Who, then, in England can be put to death unjustly for any crime? since he is allowed so many pleas and privileges in favor of life; none but his neighbors, men of honest and good repute, against whom he can have no probable cause of exception, can find the person accused guilty. Indeed, one would much rather that twenty guilty persons should escape the punishment of death than that one innocent person should be condemned and suffer capitally." De Laudibus Legum Angliae, Amos' translation, Cambridge, 1825.

[ 156 U.S. Page 456]

     Lord Hale (1678) says: "In some cases presumptive evidence goes far to prove a person guilty, though there be no express proof of the fact to be committed by him, but then it must be very warily pressed, for it is better five guilty persons should escape unpunished than one innocent person should die." 2 Hale P.C. 290. He further observes: "And thus the reasons stand on both sides, and though these seem to be stronger than the former, yet in a case of this moment it is safest to hold that in practice, which hath least doubt and danger, quod dubitas, ne faceris." 1 Hale P.C. 24.

Blackstone (1753-1765) maintains that "the law holds that it is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer." 2 Bl. Com. c. 27, margin page 358, ad finem.

How fully the presumption of innocence had been evolved as a principle and applied at common law is shown in McKinley's case (1817), 33 St. Tr. 275, 506, where Lord Gillies says: "It is impossible to look at it [a treasonable oath which it was alleged that McKinley had taken] without suspecting, and thinking it probable, it imports an obligation to commit a capital crime. That has been and is my impression. But the presumption in favor of innocence is not to be reargued by mere suspicion. I am sorry to see, in this information, that the public prosecutor treats this too lightly; he seems to think that the law entertains no such presumption of innocence. I cannot listen to this. I conceive that this presumption is to be found in every code of law which has reason, and religion, and humanity, for a foundation. It is a maxim which ought to be inscribed in indelible characters in the heart of every judge and juryman; and I was happy to hear from Lord Hermand he is inclined to give full effect to it. To overturn this, there must be legal evidence of guilt, carrying home a decree of conviction short only absolute certainty."

It is well settled that there is no error in refusing to give a correct charge precisely as requested, provided the instruction actually given fairly covers and includes the instruction asked. United States v. Tweed (Tweed's case), 16 Wall. 504; Chicago & North Western Railway v. Whitton, 13 Wall. 270. The contention here is that, inasmuch as the charge given by the court

[ 156 U.S. Page 457]

     on the subject of reasonable doubt substantially embodied the statement of the presumption of innocence, therefore the court was justified in refusing in terms to mention the latter. This presents the question whether the charge that there cannot be a conviction unless the proof shows guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, so entirely embodies the statement of presumption of innocence as to justify the court in refusing, when requested, to inform the jury concerning the latter. The authorities upon this question are few and unsatisfactory. In texas it has been held that it is the duty of the court to state the presumption of innocence along with the doctrine of reasonable doubt, even though no request be made to do so. Black v. State, 1 Tex. App. 368; Priesmuth v. State, 1 Tex. App. 480; McMullen v. State, 1 Tex. App. 577. It is doubtful, however, whether the rulings in these cases were not based upon the terms of a Texas statute, and not on the general law. In Indiana it has been held error to refuse, upon request, to charge the presumption of innocence, even although it be clearly stated to the jury that conviction should not be had unless guilt be proven beyond reasonable doubt. Long v. State, 46 Indiana, 489, 582; Line v. State, 51 Indiana, 172. But the law of Indiana contains a similar provision to that of Texas. In two Michigan cases, where the doctrine of reasonable doubt was fully and fairly stated, but no request to charge the presumption of innocence was made, it was held that the failure to mention the presumption of innocence could not be assigned for error, in the reviewing court. People v. Potter, 89 Michigan, 353; People v. Graney, 91 Michigan, 646. But in the same State, where a request to charge the presumption of innocence was made and refused, the refusal was held erroneous, although the doctrine of reasonable doubt had been fully given to the jury. people v. Macard, 73 Michigan, 15. On the other hand, in Ohio it has been held not error to refuse to charge the presumption of innocence where the charge actually given was, "that the law required that the State should prove the material elements of the crime beyond doubt." Morehead v. State, 34 Ohio St. 212. It may be that the paucity of authority upon this subject results from

[ 156 U.S. Page 458]

     the fact that the presumption of innocence is so elementary that instances of denial to charge it upon request have rarely occurred. Such is the view expressed in a careful article in the Criminal Law Magazine for January, 1889, vol. 11, p. 3: "The practice of stating this principle to juries is so nearly universal that very few cases are found where error has been assigned upon the failure or refusal of the judge so to do." But whatever be the cause, authorities directly apposite are few and conflicting, and hence furnish no decisive solution of the question, which is further embarrassed by the fact that in some few cases the presumption of innocence and the doctrine of reasonable doubt are seemingly treated as synonymous. Ogletree v. State, 28 Alabama, 693; Moorer v. State, 44 Alabama, 15; People v. Lenon, 79 California, 625, 631. In these cases, however, it does not appear that any direct question was made as to whether the presumption of innocence and reasonable doubt were legally equivalent, the language used simply implying that one was practically the same as the other, both having been stated to the jury.

Some of the text-books also in the same loose way imply the identity of the two. Stephen in his History of the Criminal Law tells us that: "The presumption of innocence is otherwise stated by saying the prisoner is entitled to the benefit of every reasonable doubt." Vol. 1, 437. So, although Best in his work on Presumptions has fully stated the presumption of innocence, yet in a note to Chamberlayne's edition of that author's work on Evidence (Boston, 1883, page 304, note a) it is asserted that no such presumption obtains, and that "apparently all that is meant by the statement thereof, as a principle of law, is this -- if a man be accused of crime he must be proved guilty beyond reasonable doubt."

This confusion makes it necessary to consider the distinction between the presumption of innocence and reasonable doubt as if it were an original question. In order to determine whether the two are the equivalents of each other, we must first ascertain, with accuracy, in what each consists. Now the presumption of innocence is a conclusion drawn by the law in favor of the citizen, by virtue whereof, when brought to trial

[ 156 U.S. Page 459]

     upon a criminal charge, he must be acquitted, unless he is proven to be guilty. In other words, this presumption is an instrument of proof created by the law in favor of one accused, whereby his innocence is established until sufficient evidence is introduced to overcome the proof which the law has created. This presumption on the one hand, supplemented by any other evidence he may adduce, and the evidence against him on the other, constitute the elements from which the legal conclusion of his guilt or innocence is to be drawn.

Greenleaf thus states the doctrine: "As men do not generally violate the penal code, the law presumes every man innocent; but some men do transgress it, and therefore evidence is received to repel this presumption. This legal presumption of innocence is to be regarded by the jury, in every case, as matter of evidence, to the benefit of which the party is entitled." 1 Greenl. Ev. § 34.

Wills on Circumstantial Evidence says: "In the investigation and estimate of criminatory evidence there is an antecedent prima facie presumption in favor of the innocence of the party accused, grounded in reason and justice, not less than in humanity, and recognized in the judicial practice of all civilized nations; which presumption must prevail until it be destroyed by such an overpowering amount of legal evidence of guilt as is calculated to produce the opposite belief." Best on Presumptions declares the presumption of innocence to be a "presumptio juris." The same view is taken in the article in the Criminal Law Magazine for January, 1889, to which we have already referred. It says: "This presumption is in the nature of evidence in his favor [i.e. in favor of the accused], and a knowledge of it should be communicated to the jury. Accordingly, it is the duty of the judge in all jurisdictions, when requested, and in some when not requested, to explain it to the jury in his charge. The usual formula in which this doctrine is expressed, is that every man is presumed to be innocent until his guilt is proved beyond a reasonable doubt. The accused is entitled, if he so requests it . . . to have this rule of law expounded to the jury in this or in some equivalent form of expression."

[ 156 U.S. Page 460]

     The fact that the presumption of innocence is recognized as a presumption of law and is characterized by the civilians as a presumptio juris, demonstrates that it is evidence in favor of the accused. For in all systems of law legal presumptions are treated as evidence giving rise to resulting proof to the full extent of their legal efficacy.

Concluding, then, that the presumption of innocence is evidence in favor of the accused introduced by the law in his behalf, let us consider what is "reasonable doubt." It is of necessity the condition of mind produced by the proof resulting from the evidence in the cause. It is the result of the proof, not the proof itself; whereas the presumption of innocence is one of the instruments of proof, going to bring about the proof, from which reasonable doubt arises; thus one is a cause, the other an effect. To say that the one is the equivalent of the other is therefore to say that legal evidence can be excluded from the jury, and that such exclusion may be cured by instructing them correctly in regard to the method by which they are required to reach their conclusion upon the proof actually before them. In other words, that the exclusion of an important element of proof can be justified by correctly instructing as to the proof admitted. The evolution of the principle of the presumption of innocence and its resultant, the doctrine of reasonable doubt, makes more apparent the correctness of these views, and indicates the necessity of enforcing the one, in order that the other may continue to exist. Whilst Rome and the Mediaevalists taught that wherever doubt existed in a criminal case, acquittal must follow, the expounders of the common law, in their devotion to human liberty and individual rights, traced this doctrine of doubt to its true origin, the presumption of innocence, and rested it upon this enduring basis. The inevitable tendency to obscure the results of a truth, when the truth itself is forgotten or ignored, admonishes that the protection of so vital and fundamental a principle as the presumption of innocence be not denied, when requested, to any one accused of crime. The importance of the distinction between the two is peculiarly emphasized here, for, after having declined to

[ 156 U.S. Page 461]

     instruct the jury as to the presumption of innocence, the court said: "If after weighing all the proofs and looking only to the proofs, you impartially and honestly entertain the belief," etc. Whether thus confining them to "the proofs" and only to the proofs would have been error if the jury had been instructed that the presumption of innocence was a part of the legal proof, need not be considered, since it is clear that the failure to instruct them in regard to it excluded from their minds a portion of the proof created by law, and which they were bound to consider. "The proofs and the proofs only" confined them to those matters which were admitted to their consideration by the court, and among these elements of proof the court expressly refused to include the presumption of innocence, to which the accused was entitled, and the benefit whereof both the court and the jury were bound to extend him.

In addition, we think the 22d exception to the rulings of the court was well taken. The error contained in the charge, which said substantially that the burden of proof had shifted under the circumstances of the case, and that therefore it was incumbent on the accused to show the lawfulness of their acts was not merely verbal, but was fundamental, especially when considered in connection with the failure to state the presumption of innocence.

There are other objections specifically raised to certain particular counts in the indictment which we do not deem it necessary to elaborately examine, but to which the condition of the case compels us to briefly allude. Thus, the first count charges the receipt and placing to the credit of the Indianapolis Cabinet Company of a bill of exchange amounting to a certain number of pounds sterling, followed by the averment that the company thereupon drew its check for said amount. It is contended that the check offered to show the payment of this money was for dollars and not for pounds sterling, and therefore, there was a variance between the indictment and the proof. This contention, we think, is without merit. The count charged the misapplication of the sum of $5802.84, and averred that the misapplication was

[ 156 U.S. Page 462]

     effected by taking the bill of exchange and paying out that amount; in other words, the whole context, we think, makes plain the charge that the sum which it avers to have been misapplied was credited as the result of taking the bill of exchange, and that it was this sum which was paid out upon the check of the cabinet company. Of course it is immaterial at what rate or by what rule the pounds sterling were converted into current money. The sum of the misapplication was the amount stated as credited in consequence of having taken the bill of sterling exchange.

On the subject of the counts covering the charge of false entries in the books of the bank the following requests were made and refused:

"No. 18. In considering the false entry charges in the indictment, it is necessary that you should know what constitutes a false entry. The books of account of a bank are kept for the purpose of accurately and truly recording the financial transactions of the bank. An entry upon the books of the bank of some alleged transactions which never occurred, or of a transaction which did occur, but which is falsely recorded, would be a false entry. But any entry in which that which has been done by the officers or agents of the bank is correctly set forth in detail is not a false entry. If, therefore, you find from the evidence, for instance, with reference to the alleged false entry in the 40th count, that the bank had actually given to the cabinet company the credit for $44,000 upon the paper presented by the cabinet company, and had authorized said cabinet company to make its checks against said credit, and that said entry was made upon the books simply as a truthful record of that which had been done, then the same was not a false entry but was and is a true entry, and the indictment, so far as based upon such entry, cannot be sustained.

"No. 19. If Mr. Haughey, as president of the bank, received from the cabinet company drafts, bills, or notes, which, by reason of the insolvency of the parties, or for any other reason ought not to have been received, and gave to said cabinet company credit therefor, and afterwards caused

[ 156 U.S. Page 463]

     an entry of such credit to be made upon the books of the bank, then whatever wrong was done in the matter by Mr. Haughey was not in causing such entry to be made, but was, further back, in receiving the paper and giving the credit. Not to have made the entry would have been to commit another wrong, since it was his duty as president of the bank to see that the books should speak the exact truth as to that which he had caused to be done, and however wrongful may have been his previous acts, the making of an exact and truthful record of the same in the books of the bank was and could be no crime under this statute."

Whilst we consider the charges asked were in some respects unsound, yet the exception reserved to the charge actually given by the court was well taken, because therein the questions of misapplication and of false entries are interblended in such a way that it is difficult to understand exactly what was intended. We think the language used must have tended to confuse the jury and leave upon their minds the impression that if the transaction represented by the entry actually occurred, but amounted to a misapplication, then its entry exactly as it occurred constituted "a false entry;" in other words, that an entry would be false, though it faithfully described an actual occurrence, unless the transaction which it represented involved full and fair value for the bank. The thought thus conveyed implied that the truthful entry of a fraudulent transaction constitutes a false entry within the meaning of the statute. We think it is clear that the making of a false entry is a concrete offence which is not committed where the transaction entered actually took place, and is entered exactly as it occurred.

Judgment reversed and case remanded with directions to grant a new trial.

18950304

© 1998 VersusLaw Inc.



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