State v. Bloor

Decision Date21 March 1898
Citation52 P. 611,20 Mont. 574
PartiesSTATE v. BLOOR.
CourtMontana Supreme Court

Appeal from district court, Lewis and Clarke county; H. C. Smith Judge.

John Bloor was indicted for the crime of secreting a public record. He entered a plea of not guilty, was tried and convicted, and appeals from the judgment and from an order denying a motion for a new trial. Affirmed.

The indictment, omitting the mere formal introductory parts, is as follows: "The grand jurors of the grand jury *** do accuse John Bloor, late of the said county of Lewis and Clarke, of the crime of secreting a public record, committed on the 4th day of March, A. D. 1897, at the county of Lewis and Clarke, in the state of Montana, as follows: The said John Bloor, being then and there a duly elected, qualified and acting officer of the state of Montana, to wit, secretary of the senate of the Fifth legislative assembly of the state of Montana, having been theretofore duly and regularly elected to the office aforesaid, by the senate aforesaid, on the fourth day of January, A. D. 1897, and having on said fourth day of January, A. D. 1897, taken and subscribed the oath prescribed by law to be taken and subscribed by said officer, and then and there, on the fourth day of March, A. D. 1897, having in his custody, possession, and control under and by virtue of his office aforesaid, a certain record, bill, or paper of the said Fifth legislative assembly of the state of Montana, to wit, 'Substitute for house bill No.185, a bill for an act amending sections 4594 and 4596 of the Political Code of the State of Montana, relative to and reducing the annual compensation or salary for services of county officers in the various classes of counties,' introduced by the ways and means committee of the house of representatives of the said Fifth legislative assembly of the state of Montana, and which said substitute bill No. 185, as aforesaid, had then and there, at the date aforesaid, to wit, on the fourth day of March, A. D. 1897 duly and regularly passed both houses of the legislative assembly aforesaid, and which said record bill or paper aforesaid came into and was then and there in the hands of the said John Bloor, secretary as aforesaid, for the purpose of being by him, the said John Bloor, by virtue of his office aforesaid, transmitted to the house of representatives of the Fifth legislative assembly aforesaid, and which said record, bill, or paper was, on the date aforesaid, to wit, on the fourth day of March, A. D. 1897, by him, the said John Bloor, willfully and feloniously secreted; all of which is contrary to the form, force, and effect of the statute in such case made and provided, and against the peace and dignity of the state of Montana."

The statute under which the indictment was drawn is as follows: "Every officer having the custody of any record, map or book, or of any paper, or proceeding of any court, filed or deposited in any public office, or placed in his hands for any purpose, who is guilty of stealing, willfully destroying, mutilating, defacing, altering or falsifying, removing or secreting the whole or any part of such record, map, book, paper or proceeding, or who permits any other person so to do, is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison not less than one nor more than fourteen years." Pen. Code, § 230.

E. A. Carleton and T. J. Walsh, for appellant.

C. B. Nolan, Atty. Gen., and R. R. Purcell, for the State.

HUNT J.

(after stating the facts. The defendant urges that he was entitled to an acquittal because (1) there is no evidence on the part of the state that the bill in question came into defendant's hands by virtue of defendant's official position; because (2) there is no evidence that defendant secreted the bill; because (3) there is no evidence that, if he secreted the bill, it was done for any illegal purpose.

The record is very voluminous, and we shall not incumber this opinion by reciting the evidence at length. The following material facts appeared: Defendant was the duly qualified and acting secretary of the senate of the Fifth legislative assembly, and one H. S. Corbley was his assistant. Substitute for house bill No. 185 passed the house of representatives on March 4, 1897, and was received by the senate on that day. In the senate it was read a third time and passed. The passage of the bill through the senate occurred on the last night of the session. After it was read on its final passage, the assistant secretary, Corbley, handed it to the defendant Bloor, who was sitting at the desk near him. Corbley did not see the bill thereafter. No enrolled copy thereof was presented to the speaker of the house or to the president of the senate. On the day following the adjournment of the legislature the defendant, Bloor, told Corbley that he had found the bill in question in a pigeon hole in his (Bloor's) desk with bills which were indefinitely postponed by the senate. The custom of the secretary and his assistant in transmitting to the house the various bills after their passage in the senate was to first make the necessary indorsements on the bills, then seal them up with a short message, and deliver them themselves, or hand them to a page to deliver, to the sergeant at arms to take to the house. The indorsements upon the bill in question, with but a single exception, so far as the history of the bill in the senate went, were in defendant's handwriting. The last indorsement, which was not in his handwriting, was as follows: "Read third time, concurred in, and title agreed to." It appears that upon the last night of the session one Langford was assisting the secretary of the senate in writing up the record of the bills, and wrote some indorsements on the back. It also appeared that one Hines, then the treasurer of Silver Bow county, was trying to defeat the bill in question; that the defendant, Bloor, and Hines were talking about this particular bill in the senate chamber after its passage in the senate on March 4th; that Hines went up to defendant's desk; that defendant picked up some papers, and handed them to Hines; that Hines folded one up, and, shaking it at Bloor, said something to him; that Bloor picked up a package of bills, went over them, and handed one to Hines, who took it, and held it up so that the light would strike it, and that the bill so held up by Hines was the bill in question; that it was recognized by Mr. W. A. Clark, a member of the house of representatives, who had prepared the bill himself for the committee, and who was sitting some distance from the desk of the secretary at the time; that Hines took the bill, folded it up, and commenced talking to Bloor, and making motions with it, and then laughed with Bloor, who passed behind his desk and winked at Hines. It further appeared that Hines had said a few days before the last day of the session that "we [meaning evidently the officials of Silver Bow county] have to do something to get away with that bill; we don't want the salaries of the officials of Silver Bow county reduced; and, if we can't talk it to death, we have to get rid of it in some other way." On the day following the adjournment a search was made for the bill. The defendant, Bloor, said that the bill had been transmitted to the house the night before and prior to the adjournment of the legislature. He went over to the room of the house, and soon returned, stating that the bill had gone over to the house by the sergeant at arms, and that it had been found. The chief clerk of the house, Dave Marks, testified that the bill had not been handed to him by the speaker or any one else during the closing hours of the session, and that the first he knew of the loss of it was the afternoon following the adjournment; that one Greenfield then searched the witness' desk for the bill, but could not find it; that the defendant, Bloor, afterwards came in, and went through the pigeon holes above his desk, and told him (Marks) that he had sent the bill to the house; that defendant then left the house chamber, but returned shortly, saying that the bill must be in the house; that defendant went back of the chair occupied by witness, who was then dictating his minutes, and put his hand to one of the pigeon holes and was examining some papers; that he seemed to have something like a bill in his hand at that time; that Bloor then came to the front of witness' desk, and remarked that it was strange, and that the bill must be in the house, and then went back to the pigeon holes, when he again reached up to them, and pulled out the bill, remarking, "Why, here is your bill." that thereupon Chief Clerk Marks declined to keep possession of it, saying that it did not come to him in regular order, and that he would not keep it, telling defendant, Bloor, that the bill had not been in the pigeon hole where it was taken from 10 minutes before. A. C. Logan, assistant clerk of the house of representatives, testified that the bill had not been returned from the senate to the house before the legislature adjourned; that the following day he made a search in the clerk's desk, and in the pigeon holes behind that desk, and that the particular pigeon hole out of which the defendant subsequently took the bill was carefully searched by this witness 20 or 30 minutes before Bloor came in; that this witness could not find the bill in his search; that Mr. Bloor was in the house a very short time prior to the time that the bill was found by him; that at the time the chief clerk was at his desk; that a very few minutes after that time Bloor pulled the bill out of a pigeon hole, and threw it on Marks' desk. This witness stated that he did not see the defendant put the bill into the pigeon hole, but that he did see him take it out. Defendant himself...

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