Moore v. United States

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBRADLEY
Citation91 U.S. 270,23 L.Ed. 346
Decision Date01 October 1875
PartiesMOORE v. UNITED STATES

91 U.S. 270
23 L.Ed. 346
MOORE
v.
UNITED STATES.
October Term, 1875

APPEAL from the Court of Claims.

This was a suit to recover the sum of $5,780 on account of cotton seized by the United States.

The court below found that the petitioner, a British subject, owned and was possessed of 26 2/3 bales of cotton stored in a warehouse in St. Joseph's, in the State of Louisiana.

Page 271

That on the twelfth day of December, 1863, it was seized by the United States, by the boats of their marine brigade under the command of Colonel Ellet, and taken from the possession of the petitioner and sold by the United States, and the net proceeds thereof, amounting to the sum of $5,780, paid into the treasury.

That after said seizure, and while the said cotton was in a boat of the marine brigade, the said petitioner sold the said cotton, as appears by his certificate or paper-writing.

That the original of said certificate or paper-writing was proved in court by a comparison, made by the judges of the court, of the handwriting and signature of said paper-writing with the handwriting and signature of the petitioner in another paper-writing in evidence for other purposes in the cause.

The certificate referred to is as follows:——

'I certify that the cotton taken by the gunboat 'Switzerland,' twenty-six bales, on the 12th December, was my property, and I sold the same and received payment in full, and that the same is registered at the British consul's office, New Orleans; and, as an act of justice, it should be returned.

'JOSEPH MOORE.

'ST. JOSEPH'S, LA., 17th December, 1863.'

Judgment was rendered in favor of the defendant, and the petition dismissed.

Mr. Joseph Casey for the appellant.

1. The court erred in admitting proof of the execution of the paper in question by comparison of handwriting. This court has ruled that such proof is inadmissible where the witness had no prior knowledge of the handwriting. Strother v. Lucas, 6 Pet. 763; Rogers v. Ritter, 12 Wall. 321.

In Pennsylvania, comparison is only admitted in corroboration of other testimony. McCorkle v. Binns, 3 Binn. 349; Bank v. Whitehill, 10 S. & R. 110; Bank v. Haldeman, 1 Penn. 161; Baker v. Haines, 6 Whart. 266; Depue v. Place, 7 Barr, 428.

The same rule prevails in New York. People v. Spooner, 1 Denio, 343; Titford v. Knott, 2 Johns. 211; Jackson v. Phillips, 9 Cow. 94; Wilson v. Kirtland, 5 Hill, 182.

Page 272

In Maryland, the doctrine that it is not competent to prove by comparison is too firmly established to be disturbed. Smith v. Walton, 8 Gill, 77; same in Kentucky, 7 B. Mon. 269; same in Alabama, 2 Ala. 703; same in Rhode Island, 2 R. I. 319; 1 Greenl. Ev., sect. 576 et seq.

2. If the evidence of comparison be admissible at all, it must be by experts; and it does not appear in any way that these judges, or any of them, are such experts.

3. The party against whom such evidence is admitted is precluded from testing or gainsaying in any way the accuracy or extent of the knowledge by which the instrument is decided to be his.

This is a fatal error, we think, for which this judgment should be reversed.

Mr. Assistant Attorney-General Edwin B. Smith for the appellee.

The execution of the paper was properly proved.

Comparison of hands has always been considered a legitimate mode of determining the authenticity of a signature. 6 Court of Claims, 429, 432; Henderson v. Hackney, 16 Ga. 521; McCorkle v. Binns, 5 Binn. 340; Lyon v. Lyman, 9 Conn. 55; Adams v. Field, 21 Vt. 256; Homer v. Wallis, 11 Mass....

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55 practice notes
  • United States v. Consiglio, Crim. No. H-24.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • March 4, 1975
    ...for the orders to intercept by comparing them with the admittedly genuine initial signatures on the exemplars.17 Moore v. United States, 91 U.S. 270, 23 L.Ed. 346 (1875); In re Goldberg, 91 F.2d 996 (2d Cir. 1937). The opinion of Dr. Bouffard did not persuade me that the initials on the mem......
  • People v. Molineux
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • October 15, 1901
    ...5 Adol. & E. 514; 1 Greenl. Ev. (14th Ed.) 578; Miles v. Loomis, 75 N. Y. 288, 31 Am. Rep. 470;State v. Scott, 45 Mo. 302;Moore v. U. S., 91 U. S. 270, 23 L. Ed. 346. Since these statutes were designed to amplify and broaden the common-law rule by permitting the use of genuine writings as s......
  • Gatton v. The Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Ry. Co.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • May 28, 1895
    ...the country, and that such jurisdiction is not to be determined by any state rule or law statute, civil or common law. Moore v. U. S., 91 U.S. 270, 23 L.Ed. 346, simply decides that as to the court of claims, in the absence of other provisions by congress, the rules of evidence as found in ......
  • United States v. Patterson, 1,215.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • February 28, 1893
    ...other body of jurisprudence. The chief part of the federal criminal law exists only in this way. See cases cited above, and Moore v. U.S., 91 U.S. 270, 273, 274; Smith v. Alabama, 124 U.S. 465, at page 478, 8 S.Ct. 564, at page 569. It is a feature of the operation of this principle that th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
55 cases
  • United States v. Consiglio, Crim. No. H-24.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • March 4, 1975
    ...for the orders to intercept by comparing them with the admittedly genuine initial signatures on the exemplars.17 Moore v. United States, 91 U.S. 270, 23 L.Ed. 346 (1875); In re Goldberg, 91 F.2d 996 (2d Cir. 1937). The opinion of Dr. Bouffard did not persuade me that the initials on the mem......
  • People v. Molineux
    • United States
    • New York Court of Appeals
    • October 15, 1901
    ...5 Adol. & E. 514; 1 Greenl. Ev. (14th Ed.) 578; Miles v. Loomis, 75 N. Y. 288, 31 Am. Rep. 470;State v. Scott, 45 Mo. 302;Moore v. U. S., 91 U. S. 270, 23 L. Ed. 346. Since these statutes were designed to amplify and broaden the common-law rule by permitting the use of genuine writings as s......
  • Gatton v. The Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Ry. Co.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Iowa
    • May 28, 1895
    ...the country, and that such jurisdiction is not to be determined by any state rule or law statute, civil or common law. Moore v. U. S., 91 U.S. 270, 23 L.Ed. 346, simply decides that as to the court of claims, in the absence of other provisions by congress, the rules of evidence as found in ......
  • United States v. Patterson, 1,215.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. United States District Courts. 1st Circuit. District of Massachusetts
    • February 28, 1893
    ...other body of jurisprudence. The chief part of the federal criminal law exists only in this way. See cases cited above, and Moore v. U.S., 91 U.S. 270, 273, 274; Smith v. Alabama, 124 U.S. 465, at page 478, 8 S.Ct. 564, at page 569. It is a feature of the operation of this principle that th......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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