Gridley v. United States

Decision Date06 November 1930
Docket Number5568,No. 5576,5569.,5576
Citation44 F.2d 716
PartiesGRIDLEY et al. v. UNITED STATES. GRIDLEY v. SAME. WRIGHT et al. v. SAME.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Sixth Circuit

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J. M. Dunham, of Grand Rapids, Mich., and D. G. F. Warner, of Lansing, Mich. (Jeffries & Krause, of Detroit, Mich., and Dunham & Cholette, of Grand Rapids, Mich., on the brief), for appellants.

J. R. Watkins and G. H. Frederick, both of Detroit, Mich. (David A. Wolff, of Detroit, Mich., on the brief), for the United States.

Before DENISON and HICKS, Circuit Judges, and COCHRAN, District Judge.

ANDREW M. J. COCHRAN, District Judge.

No. 5576 is an appeal from a judgment of conviction under an indictment charging use of the mails to effect a scheme to defraud in violation of section 215, Criminal Code (18 USCA § 338); Nos. 5568 and 5569 are appeals from judgments of conviction for contempt of court committed in the course of the trial of No. 5576. All three appeals will be disposed of in this one opinion.

No. 5576.

The scheme charged may be thus stated: The persons to be defrauded were members of associations known as "Advocates of Justice for the Descendants of Anneke Jans Bogardus," and particularly those located in the cities of Detroit, Flint, Ann Arbor, and Jackson, Mich. They were to be defrauded by obtaining money from them upon false representations that the defendants possessed and had access to information and evidence which would prove conclusively that such descendants had title to and, by means of such information and evidence, could and would recover certain real estate in New York City, then occupied by the Trinity Church Corporation, hereafter referred to as Trinity Church. That real estate was largely that which constitutes the financial district of New York City, worth many millions of dollars. The indictment charged other features of the scheme, to which it is not necessary to refer. The trial began February 19 and lasted to March 15, 1929. Seventy-one witnesses were heard, thirty for the prosecution and forty-one for the defense. They were mostly members of those associations. Two hundred and twenty-four errors have been assigned. It is important before entering upon their consideration that note should be taken of their background, in the light of which they should be disposed of. That background consists of the case as made by the evidence and the climate of the trial. This calls for much detail.

Preliminary Statement.

1. There was conflict in the evidence only as to one important fact. Otherwise the facts were beyond dispute. Such was the case as to the title to the property to which the representations charged related, and the right of those descendants to recover it. This is settled by certain reported decisions of the New York courts, rendered nearly one hundred years ago, in two suits brought by certain of such descendants against Trinity Church introduced in evidence by appellee. The first one was brought December 1, 1830, by John Bogardus, one of five children of Cornelius Bogardus, a grandson of Cornelius Bogardus, a son of Anneke Jans. Opinions adjudging that a plea to the bill filed by the defendant was sufficient are reported in Bogardus v. Trinity Church, 4 Paige, 178 and 15 Wend. 111. An opinion on certain motions is reported in 4 Sandf. Ch. 369. The suit was afterwards heard on the merits, and on June 30, 1847, the bill was dismissed. The evidence, arguments of counsel, and opinion of the court, are reported in 4 Sandf. Ch. 633. This suit will hereafter be referred to as John's suit. The second suit was brought and disposed of during the pendency of that suit. It was brought in 1834 and the bill was dismissed on demurrer in 1840. It was brought by the descendants of two of the children of Anneke Jans, on behalf of themselves and such other of the descendants as should come in and contribute to its expense. The opinions rendered on the dismissal are reported in Humbert v. Rector, etc., of Trinity Church, 7 Paige, 195 and Id., 24 Wend. 587. This suit is hereafter referred to as the Descendants' suit.

Anneke Jans was one of the early Dutch colonists of New Amsterdam, now New York City. She married twice. Her last husband, whom she survived, was Everardus Bogardus, a dominie. She had eight children, four by each husband, all of whom, except a daughter, survived her, that daughter leaving two children surviving her. Two of her surviving children subsequently died intestate without issue. Petrus Stuyvesant, Governor of the New Netherlands, July 4, 1654, granted to her by patent 62 acres of land on the Island of Manhattan, which was a confirmation of a previous grant made in 1636 by the then Governor, of which land she died seized and possessed. This land was known as Dominie's Bowery. Bowery was Dutch for a farm and accompanying buildings. She died in 1663, testate, in the village of Beverwyck in New Netherlands, an early name for the city of Albany, N. Y. By her will she devised this land to her children and the children of her deceased daughter. In 1664 the Dutch surrendered to the British. March 27, 1667, pursuant to a provision in the Articles of Capitulation of August 27, 1664, Richard Nicholls, Governor of the Province of New York, executed a deed to her devisees, confirming their title to this land. It is this property, subsequently coming into the possession of Trinity Church, which was the subject of the representations. At the time of the bringing of John's suit, it was worth in excess of $5,000,000 and the annual income therefrom exceeded $300,000. He brought the suit on his own behalf and no one else. He asserted an ownership of one-fifth of one-sixth, or one-thirtieth, of the Bowery. He claimed this interest by inheritance from his father Cornelius, to whom by descent from his grandfather Cornelius, one of the children and devisees of Anneke Jans, through his father Cornelius, a one-sixth interest therein had passed. If he had such interest, each of his brothers and sisters had a like one, but for some reason they did not join in the suit. It is possible that they took no stock in it. The representatives of the other five-sixths interest could not have joined therein, because it was based on the position that Trinity Church and not they owned those interests and he and his brothers and sisters were tenants in common with it. This was made out in this way. In March, 1670-71, what was termed a deed of transport was executed by and for the other five devisees of Anneke Jans to Col. Francis Lovelace, then Governor of the province. This deed was taken in his official capacity and the title to the property conveyed vested in the Duke of York, to whom his brother, Charles the Second, had ceded all the property in America owned or claimed by him. It continued in the latter as Duke and then, as King James the Second, till the English Revolution, by which he was dethroned and exiled; and then with other crown and proprietary land was transmitted to William and Mary and on the death of William the Third to Queene Anne. The Bowery was part of a larger boundary which, including it, was first called the Duke's Farm, then the King's Farm, and then the Queen's Farm. November 23, 1705, Queen Anne granted the Queen's Farm to Trinity Church. The possession of the Bowery was taken by Gov. Lovelace under the deed to him and held by the Duke and Crown until Queen Anne's grant, when the church took possession; and it had held possession ever since, except so far as it sold portions thereof. The plaintiff claimed that such title and possession were as tenant in common with Cornelius Bogardus, who had not joined in the Lovelace deed and those claiming under him. This is a fuller statement as to the passage of the title and possession from Gov. Lovelace to Trinity Church than was set forth in the bill. It merely charged that Trinity Church had entered in possession under the Lovelace deed and Queen Anne's grant. It could not have entered under the Lovelace deed in any other way, and the court, in its opinion, adjudged that it so passed. The church had rented portions of the Bowery and sold portions and plaintiff sought an accounting for one thirtieth thereof. The plea of Trinity Church was that the possession which it took in 1705 under Queen Anne's grant, and thereafter held, was adverse to plaintiff's great grandfather Cornelius and those claiming under him and that hence plaintiff was barred of any interest in the land. A voluminous amount of evidence was introduced on the trial, all of which is set forth in the report thereof in 4 Sand. Ch., so that one can judge for himself as to the correctness of the conclusions reached and the decision rendered. The trial took thirteen days. The report of the case, including the court's opinion, covers in the reprint of the Lawyer's Co-operating Publishing Company forty-seven pages double columns. The opinion of the court covers fifteen of those pages. Note should be taken as to what, if anything, adverse possession had to do with the court's disposition of the case. The Lovelace deed was not limited to the interests of the five devisees by and for whom it was made. It undertook to cover the entire interests therein. The evidence established, and the court so held, that the Duke of York and the Crown had the actual and exclusive possession of the Duke, King, and Queen's Farm, including the Bowery, claiming under that deed from the time of its making until the making of the grant to Trinity Church, i. e. from 1670-71 to 1705, a period of about thirty-five years and that Trinity Church had the actual and exclusive possession thereof, with the exception of the interruption to be referred to later, claiming under Queen Anne's grant from 1705 to the bringing of the suit in 1830, a period of one hundred and twenty-five years. As to the possession under the Lovelace deed, the court said:

"Thus, setting out with the title of Anneke Jans, and the...

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