53 U.S. 88 (1851), U.s. v. Bromley
|Citation:||53 U.S. 88, 13 L.Ed. 905|
|Party Name:||THE UNITED STATES, PLAINTIFFS IN ERROR, v. DANIEL H. BROMLEY.|
|Case Date:||December 19, 1851|
|Court:||United States Supreme Court|
THIS case was brought up by writ of error, from the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of New York.
It was an action of debt on statute, commenced in the District Court of Northern New York, founded on the tenth section of the act of 3d March, 1845: 'An act to reduce the rates of postage; to limit the use, and correct the abuse, of the franking privilege; and for the prevention of frauds on the revenue of the Post-Office Department.'
The section is as follows: 'That is shall not be lawful for any stage-coach, railroad car, steamboat, packet-boat, or other vehicle or vessel, nor any of the owners, managers, servants, or crews of either, which regularly performs trips at stated periods on a post-route, or between two or more cities, towns, or other places, from one to the other of which the United States mail is regularly conveyed under the authority of the Post-Office Department, to transport or convey, otherwise than in the mail, any letter or letters, packet or packages of letters, or other mailable matter whatsoever, except such as may have relation to some part of the cargo of such steamboat, packet-boat, or other vessel, or to some article at the same time conveyed by the same stage-coach, railroad car, or other vehicle; and excepting also newspapers, pamphlets, magazines, and periodicals; and for every such offence, the owner or owners of the stage-coach, railroad car, steamboat, packet-boat, or other vehicle or vessel, shall forfeit and pay the sum of one hundred dollars; and the driver, captain, conductor, or person having charge of any such stage-coach, railroad car, steamboat, packet-boat, or other vehicle or vessel at the time of the commission of any such offence, and who shall not at that time be the owner thereof, in whole or in part, shall in like manner forfeit and pay, in every such case of offence, the sum of fifty dollars.' 5 Stat at L., 736.
What constitutes mailable matter, is defined in the fifteenth section. Id., 737.
The declaration contains ten counts, and in substance, they all and each of them charge, that Bromley, the defendant, was the captain of the packet-boat Empire, which regularly performed trips, at stated periods, between two places, from one to the other of which places the United States mail was regularly conveyed, under the authority of the Post-Office Department, to wit, between Albion and Rochester; and that the said packet-boat, and the said defendant so being such captain, and the managers, servants, and crews of the said packet-boat, did, while the said defendant was such captain thereof, and while the said packet-boat did regularly perform trips, at stated periods, between the said places, the said United States mail being regularly conveyed, under the authority of the Post-Office Department, from one to the other of the said places, transport and convey, otherwise than in the mail, divers letters, packets, and packages of letters, to wit, ten letters, ten packets, and ten packages of letters, then and there being mailable matter, other than newspapers, &c.; and which said letters, packets, and packages of letters, did not, nor did any or either of them, have relation to any part of the cargo of the said packet-boat, from one to the other of the said places, from one to the other of which said places the United States mail was then and there regularly conveyed as aforesaid, under the authority of the Post-Office Department, contrary to the intent of the act; whereby the defendant did then and there forfeit, and became liable to pay the plaintiffs the sum of fifty dollars; by means whereof, an action hath accrued to the plaintiffs to demand and have of and from the defendant the sum of fifty dollars.
To this declaration the defendant pleaded mil debet, to which the plaintiffs joined issue.
The cause coming on to be tried, the plaintiffs offered certain evidence set forth in the bill of exceptions, as follows:
Wallace Sherman, to whom it was objected on behalf of the defendant, that he was informer in the case, but the court overruled the objection.
The said witness was therefore examined in chief by the said United States Attorney, and testified, that he was clerk in the post-office at Albion, from about the middle of August, 1846, during all which time the mail was regularly carried under the authority of the Post-Office Department, between Albion and Rochester, New York, daily. H. I. Sickles was postmaster at Albion; that he had seen the defendant, and knew him by sight; that he believed he was captain of the packet-boat Empire, on the Erie Canal, in 1845, and part of 1846; that the packet-boat Empire,
during the season of navigation, performed regular trips between Rochester and Buffalo; that Albion was on the canal between Rochester and Buffalo; that he had seen Kelsey, the steward of the boat; that he was steward of the boat while the defendant was captain; that he saw a letter or letters given to Kelsey in 1846, he thought in May; that it was while the defendant was captain, and while the boat was at Albion; Kelsey was the steward of the boat, which was going from Buffalo to Rochester; that he thought two letters were given to him, one by Brainard and one by Parmlee; that he did not know as anything else was given to the steward; that he the witness, was not far off; that he did not know whether both the letters were given to the steward at the same instant of time.
On cross examination by the counsel for the defendant, this witness testified that this was between 10 and 11 o'clock at night; the boat did not stop at Albion over fifteen minutes; that on the occasion spoken of he and one White got on the boat; that he had seen the defendant on...
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