72 N.Y. 334, Phelps v. People

Citation:72 N.Y. 334
Party Name:CHARLES H. PHELPS, Plaintiff in Error, v. THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, Defendants in Error.
Case Date:February 05, 1878
Court:New York Court of Appeals
 
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72 N.Y. 334

CHARLES H. PHELPS, Plaintiff in Error,

v.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, Defendants in Error.

New York Court of Appeal

February 5, 1878

Argued Jan. 15, 1878.

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COUNSEL

William J. Hadley, for plaintiff in error. The court erred in overruling the challenge to the juror Lamb. (Laws 1872, p. 1133; Laws 1873, p. 681.) There was no count in the indictment upon which the conviction could be sustained. (2 R. S. [ 3d ed.], 765 m. p.; People v. Loomis, 4 Den., 381; 3 Ch. Cr. L., 974, 975, m. p.; Rex v. Craven, R. & R. Eng. Cr. Cas., 14; Rex v. Chard, Id., 488, note a.; Rex v. Clark, Id., 181; Rex v. Walsh, Id., 215; Rex v. Pooley, Id., 12; Reg. v. Craddock, 2 Den. Cr. Cas., 38; People v. Holbrook, 13 R., 96; 1 Arch. Cr. Pl. [ W.'s 6th ed.], 85; 2 Id., 391-393; Rex v. James, 7 Car. & P., 556; Stewart v. Comm., 4 S. & R., 194; The St. v. Thomas, 2 McC., 527; Barb. Cr. Law, 688, 689; Wood v. People, 53 N.Y. 511; Johnson v. People, Id., 512; 3 Greenl. on Ev., § 10.) To constitute a good indictment for larceny, the name of the true owner of the thing stolen, if known, should be stated. (The Floyd Acceptances, 7 Wal., 667; Lee v. Munroe, Cranch, 366; Laws of 1843, chap. 44, p. 28; Jeff. Co. v. Ford, 4 Green [Iowa], 376; Ford v. Jeff. Co., Id., 273.) If the State ever acquired any interest in, or right of, property to the draft, it should have been averred to be the property of the people of the State. (Const., art. 1, § 11; art. 3, § 14; 1 R. S., 173 m. p., § § 16, 17; Id., 172, § 19; Id., 174, § 32; Id., 175, § § 36, 51; 1 Whart. Cr. L. [ 7th ed.], § § 250, 259; People v. Bennett, 37 N.Y. 124, 125.) To constitute larceny, the alleged owner of the thing stolen must have either the actual or constructive possession of it at the time of its conversion. (2 East. P. C., 570-574, 655, 665; 2 Bish. Cr. L., § § 356, 365, 828, 832, 854, 855. The name of the owner of the draft being ascertainable, a conviction upon the counts alleging an unknown ownership was clearly illegal.

(3 Chitty Cr. L. [5th Am. ed.], 949; 1 Id., 211-213; 2 East. Cr. Pl., 651; 1 Bish. on Cr. Pro.,

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§§ 546-581; Rosc. Cr. Ev. [ Sharewood's 5th Am. ed.], 640; 1 Whart. Cr. L., § § 251, 256, 258; 2 Id., 1820 [c], 1821 [[d]; Wood v. People, 59 N.Y. 117.)The taking and conversion of the instrument in question did not amount to larceny within the true and legal definition of that crime. (3 Coke's Inst., 98, 107, 108; 1 Hawk. P. C., b'k. 1, ch. 33, § § 2, 3; 1 Hale Cr. Pl. [ 1st Am. ed.], 667; 2 Russ. Cr. L. [ 4th Am. ed.], 95; Rosc. Cr. Ev. [ 5th ed.], 584, 594-596; People v. McDonald, 43 N.Y. 63, 64; Hildebrand v. People, 56 Id., 394-397; 2 Bl. Com., 389, 396; People v. Bennett, 37 N.Y. 188; Coats v. People, 22 Id., 245; Comm. v. King, 9 Cush., 284; Waite's Case, 1 Leach. Cas. in Cr. L., 33; Bazeley's Case, 2 Id., 973; Wilson v. People, 39 N.Y. 461; Smith v. People, 53 Id., 111; Barrett v. Warren, 3 Hill, 348; Ely v. Ehle, 3 N.Y. , 506; Reg. v. Orlanda Masters, 1 Den. Res. Cr. Cas., 339; Rex v. Walsh, 4 Taunt., 258; 1 Showers' R., 53; 1 Moody Cr. Cas., 129, 160, 473; Rex v. Hawtin, 7 C. & P., 281; Rex v. Thomas, 9 Id., 741; Reg. v. Gorbutt, 1 D. & B. Cr. Cas., 166; Reg. v. Essex, Id., 371; Reg. v. Green, 1 Dears. Cr. Cas., 323; Rex v. Thistle, 2 C. & K., 841; Reg. v. Glass, 1 Den. Cr. Cas., 219; Reg. v. Lovell, 2 M. & R., 236; Reg. v. Cornish, 33 E. L. & Eq., 527; Comm. v. King, 9 Cush., 284; People v. Anderson, 14 J. R., 294; People v. Cogdell, 1 Hill, 94; Reg. v. Thurborn, 1 Derm. Cr. Cas., 387; Reg. v. Preston, 2 Id., 353; Rex v. Leigh, 2 East., 694; Rex v. Mucklow, 1 Moody Cr. Cas., 166; Reg. v. Deaves, 11 Cox Cr. Cas., 227; Wilson v. People, 39 N.Y. 459.) To constitute larceny of a written instrument the paper must be effective and operative when taken. (Canal Bk. v. Bk. of Albany, 1 Hill, 287; Morgan v. Bk. of State of N.Y. 1 Duer, 435; 1 Kern., 404; Doubleday v. Kress, 50 N.Y. 410; People v. Loomis, 4 Den., 385.) It was error to charge that the jury were unauthorized to find that Phelps was the possessor of the draft, if they found that it was sent from the county treasurer to the Comptroller, received by him for the State, delivered to Phelps in

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the Treasurer's office, entered by him upon the books, and receipt sent for it; and also in charging that it was not important whether Phelps formed the intent to steal the draft at the moment he received it; it was enough that he formed the intent, and did steal it after it had been reduced to the actual possession of the State. (Wilson v. People, 39 N.Y. 461; Hildebrand v. People, 56 Id., 394; 1 Hale P. C., 504; 2 East. P. C., 568, 571, 572-574, 655, 665; Rosc. Cr. Ev., 594-604; 2 Whart. Cr. L. [ 7th ed.], § § 1818, 1830 a, 1830 b, 1846 b, 1861, 1861 b; 2 Bish. Cr. L., § § 826, 828, 855; Wait's Case, 1 Leach, 33 [3d ed.]; Bageley's Case, 2 Id., 973; Abrams v. People, 6 Hun, 491; Reg. v. Goodbody, 3 C. & P., 665.)

The court erred in refusing to charge that if the draft came into Phelps' possession lawfully in the course of his employment as money or receiving clerk of the treasury department, and that as such clerk he had a right to keep it for the purpose of and until deposited in the State bank of deposit, he was not guilty of larceny in carrying it away and converting it to his own use. (2 East. P. C., 655, 665, 668, 669, 693, 694; 2 Bish. Cr. L., § § 799, 828, 855; 2 Russ. on Cr., 109, 117, 118, 131, 132; 2 Starkw., 832 m. p.; Rosc. Cr. Ev., 595, 597 m. p.; 3 Chitty Cr. L., 919, 920 m. p.; 1 Leach, 32; 2 Id., 973; 1 Moody Cr. C., 160; 9 C. & P., 741; 7 Id., 665; Russ. & Ry., 441; 2 Whart. Cr. L., Dec. [ 7th ed.], 1860, 1861 b; 1 Moody Cr. C., 473, 129; 7 C. & P., 279; 9 Cush., 287, 288; People v. Anderson, 14 J. R., 296, 297.) The court erred in refusing to charge that the prisoner could not be convicted under any or either of the counts charging the draft to be the property of some unknown person. (2 East. P. C., 651; 3 Chitty Cr. L. [ 5th N.Y. ed.], 949; 1 Id., 213 m. p.; 2 Russ. on Cr., 162; Rosc. Cr. Ev., 640; 2 Arch. Cr. Pld'gs, 391-393 [6th N.Y. ed.], 4 Den., 380-384; 53 N.Y. 511, 514; 55 Id., 512; 3 Greenl. Ev., § 10; 5 Den., 76; 3 Ch. Cr. L. [ [5th Am. N.Y. ed.], 974, 974 a; 2 East. Pl. Cr., 601; R. & R. Cr. Cas. [ 14 ed.], 488, note a; Id., 12; Id., 215.)

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Nathaniel C. Moak, for defendants in error. The exceptions to the ruling of the court that Lamb, Bailey and Taylor were competent jurors were not well taken. (Stokes v. People, 53 N.Y. 164, 171, 173; Palmer v. People, 36 Id., 279; Lowenberg v. People, 5 Park., 423, 424; State v. Pike, 49 N. H., 406, 407; Cooper v. State, 16 Ohio St., 330-334; State v. Millain, 3 Nev., 428-430; Eberhart v. State, 47 Geo., 606; People v. Brotherton, 47 Cal., 395.) The indictment was not defective, because it did not allege any amount was due upon the instrument in question or secured by it, and remaining unpaid thereon. (2 R. S., § 63, 2 Edm. Stat., 699; 2 R. S., 702, § 33, 2 Edm. Stat., 726; 2 R. S., 679, § 66, 2 Edm. Stat., 699; State v. Gorham, 55 N. H., 152; People v. Bennett, 37 N.Y. 120, 121; People v. Rynders, 12 Wend., 431, 432; Low v. People, 2 Park. Cr., 40, 41; Holmes v. People, 15 Abb. Pr., 159; Mapes v. People, 69 Ill., 431; 2 R. S., 728,§ 52, 2 Edm. Stat., 751; Tomlinson v. People, 5 Park. Cr., 320; People v. Loop, 3 Id., 559; Quinlan v. People, 6 Id., 9; Wilson v. People, 5 Id., 178; Haskins v. People, 16 N.Y. 344, 347, 348; Rosekrans, 5 N.Y. [ [Sup. Ct. R.], 467, 475; People v. Clements, 26 N.Y. 197, 198; State v. Davis, 41 Iowa, 311; Rex v. Sommerton, 7 B. & C., 463.) The point that neither the State, the Comptroller nor Treasurer acquired any interest in, or title to, the draft in question was not well taken. (People v. Sherwin, 2 N.Y. [ S.Ct. R.], 578; People v. Bennett, 37 N.Y. 124, 129-132; 2 Bish. Crim. Prac. [ 2d ed.], § § 720-723; 2 Whart. Cr. L. [ 6th ed.], § 1,818; Ward v. People, 3 Hill, 395; 6 Id., 144; Comm. v. Finn, 108 Mass., 466.) The property in the draft was properly laid in the people of the State of New York. (2 R. S., 703, § § 35, 36; 2 Edm. Stat., 726; 2 Story on Const., § § 1679-1686; Texas v. White, 7 Wal., 721; 1 R. S., 165, § 15; 1 Edm. Stat., 164; 2 R. S., 552, § 13; 2 Edm. Stat., 573; Collector v. Day, 11 Wal., 124; State of N.Y. v. State of Conn., 4 Dal., 1; 1 R. S., 65, § 3; 1 Edm. Stat., 79; Id., 175, § § 13-17; 1 Edm. Stat., 172; Id., 179-181, § § 1-17; 1 Id., 180-182.)

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The objection that the draft could not be proved, because the indictment did not charge it to be the property of Curtis or the treasurer of Niagara county was not well taken. (Talbot v. Bank of Rochester, 1 Hill, 295; Currier v. Ins. Co., 53 N. H., 538; Graves v. Am. Ex. Bk., 17 N.Y. 207.) It was immaterial whether the draft ever came to the personal possession of the State Treasurer or not. (Comm. v. Lawless, 103 Mass., 425; Davis v. People, 56 N.Y. 95, 101; La Beau v. People, 33 How. Pr., 69; Nelson v. People, 5 Park., 39; People v. White, 55 Barb., 606, 611; Osgood v. People, 39 N.Y. 449, 451; Kane v. People, 8 Wend., 210, 211.) Defendant having been convicted on all the counts, if there were a single good count, the conviction was valid, and will not be reversed. (People v. Davis, 56 N.Y. 95, 100; Crichton v. People, 6 Park. Cr., 363, 366, 369; 1 Keyes, 344; 1 Abb. [ Ct. App. Dec.], 470; Gunther v. People, 24 N.Y. 100; People v. Stein, 1 Park. Pr., 204; Baron v. People, Id., 246; People v. Gilkinson, 4 Id., 26; La Beau v. People, 33 How. Pr., 70; Fraser v. People, 34 Barb., 306, 308; People v. Herrick, 13 Wend., 91, 92; Bretschofsky v....

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