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East, P. C. 135. It is to be understood, of course, that the conviction or punishment in any of these cases took place only when the refusal to plead was willful. If it was through defect of understanding, the defendant was remanded; and this preliminary point was tried by the jury. See Rex v. Pritchard, 7 Car. & P. 303; Reg. v. Berry, L.R.1 Q.B. Div. 447; Com.v. Braley, 1 Mass. 103; Same v. Hill, 14 Mass. 207; Dyott v. Com. 5 Whart. 67; U.S. v. Hare, 2 Wheeler, C.C. 283. Congress in the first crimes act, passed in 1790, adopted the humane rule that in all capital cases defined by that act standing mute should be equivalent to a plea of not guilty. This was followed by Pennsylvania in 1791; by Massachusetts in 1795; by Maryland in 1807. It is now the law, so far as I know, in all the United States and in England not only in felony, but in every grade of crime. But it has been applied in cases not capital since our constitution was adopted. The law of Massachusetts in 1789 and until 1836 was that a defendant charged only with a misdemeanor, who willfully and intelligently stood mute, was to be dealt with as if he had pleaded guilty. Com. v. Moore, 9 Mass. 402. This, therefore, was the law of this district. U. S. v. Reid, 12 How. 361. The alternative, then, is simple. Either the defendant was properly dealt with under Rev. St. § 1031, as one indicted; or, being already convicted by his own confession, he has no ground to complain that a second chance of escape was given him by the judge in ordering a trial by jury. Ellenwood v. Com. 10 Metc. 222. Indeed, the trial in this view was rather an inquiry than a trial, and, being a matter of grace, might have been by either court or jury without vitiating the proceedings. It is admitted that the refusal to plead was willful and intelligent, by advice of counsel, and therefore there was no occasion to try the preliminary question of sanity.
It follows that the entry must be, Petition denied.
SMITH, Receiver, etc., v. LEE.
(District Court, N. D. New York. 1882.)
ARREST AND BAIL-REDUCTION OF BAIL.
A party arrested in a civil action for damages for the wrongful conversion of the moneys and credits of a bank while acting as its president, and held to bail in a large amount, where it is shown that he has been tried on a criminal charge connected with the same transaction, and the jury disagreed; and where he is already held to bail on other charges growing out of the same transactions, and where he has made an assignment of all his property for the benefit of creditors,—is entitled to a reduction on the amount of bail.
Morey & Inglehart, for motion.
CoxE, D.J. This is a motion to reduce bail. The action is by the receiver of the First National Bank of Buffalo to recover damages for the alleged wrongful conversion of the money and credits of the bank by the defendant while acting as its president.
The papers used on the original application were the complaint and affidavit of Linus M. Price, a bank examiner, stating in detail the transactions with Herman J. Hall and others, in which it is insisted that property to a large amount was fraudulently abstracted and embezzled.
It also appeared that the defendant had executed a conveyance of the greater part of his real property to one George Howard, to indemnify him against loss as bondsman; and that the defendant was possessed of valuable personal property, which he was endeavoring to secrete and dispose of with the intent to defraud his creditors. The latter allegation is on information and belief. There were also two brief confirmatory affidavits. Upon these papers, presented ex parte to the circuit judge, the defendant was, on the sixteenth day of May, 1882, held to bail in the sum of $100,000, the condition being that he should render himself amenable to any mandate on final judgment. Since that time events have greatly modified the circumstances in which bail in a sum so large was required. The defendant afterwards interposed an answer, in which he denies on oath all the material allegations of the complaint. He admits, in an affidavit read on this motion, the transfer of his real estate to indemnify his bondsmen in the criminal proceedings, but he insists that the time for which his bondsmen were bound having expired, the title reverts, and the property conveyed is now applicable to the payment of his debts.
It further appears that the defendant has made a general assignment for the benefit of creditors, without preferences. In the schedules filed by his assignee the property is estimated at $35,000.
The affidavit also states that, with the exception of the property so assigned, he has nothing whatever with which to pay any judgment that may be awarded against him; that from the day the bank suspended-April 14, 1882_until May 18th, the date of the arrest in this action, he was, with the exception of one day, at large in the city of Buffalo, making no attempt to depart; that he has now no property to offer as security, and it will be absolutely impossible for him to procure bail unless the same be mitigated; that if reduced to a nominal sum in this action, it may be possible, through his friends, to secure bail in the criminal actions to the amount of $15,000.
This affidavit, in so far as it relates to the general assignment, the value of the defendant's property, and his fruitless efforts to obtain bail, is fortified by an accompanying affidavit of Mr. Inglehart, the attorney who drew the assignment. Neither affidavit, in its essential particulars, is disputed. But time has given the defendant another cogent argument. He has been indicted for embezzlement, abstraction, and willful misapplication of the funds of the bank, and tried, at his own request, at the same term at which the indictment was found. The trial occupied four days, and involved an investigation of the identical transactions referred to in the complaint and affidavits. No evidence offered to establish guilt was excluded; the prosecution was conducted with much ability and zeal; and yet the trial resulted in a disagreement of the jury—a jury composed of men of standing and discernment. A large majority of the jury is understood to have favored acquittal.
These are facts which the court has no right to ignore. To assert that they do not greatly lessen the chances that the defendant will abscond would not be warrantable. Had the verdict been one of acquittal, the reason for the modification of the order of May 16th would have been obvious to the most unobserving. In a less degree, the disagreement of a jury, impaneled to pass upon the guilt or innocence of an accused person, has from time immemorial been recognized as a sufficient and an imperative reason for the reduction of bail. So familiar and universal is this rule that hardly an instance can be cited in which the court has disregarded it. This defendant is entitled to the same consideration that other parties charged with crime receive; no more and no less. It would be an abuse of power for the court, after such a result,--whatever its own views of the mer.
its may be,-to treat the defendant like a proven criminal, and, by allowing the bail to remain at a sum which it is conceded he can. not give, compel him to continue in hopeless imprisonment.
In civil actions the sole object of arrest and bail is to secure the presence of the defendant where final process issues. The abolition of statutes which tolerated imprisonment for debt has given a direction to jurisprudence, in all kindred regards, opposed to oppressive measures and enactments. It is now well settled that the court has no right to fix bail at a sum so large as intentionally to oppress the defendant and prevent his release.
In view of the result of the recent trial, and in view of the further facts that the defendant is now under bonds on pending indictments in the sum of $10,000; that he has executed a general assignment; that
great part of his property consists of real estate situated in Buffalo; and that the papers contain no averment that he intends to abscond, it is thought that to require the additional sum of $100,000 is unreasonable. It would seem to be directly within the prohibition of the constitution of the United States that "excessive bail shall not be required." Few men, even in official or business transactions, where no crime is alleged, or accusation made, can command friends wealthy enough, or numerous enough, to justify in such an amount. When crime is charged suspicion is aroused, and the difficulty proportionately increased. A reasonable opportunity to secure his liberty, pending trial, should be afforded the defendant, if it can be given without endangering the rights of the plaintiff.
The papers submitted on this motion have been carefully examined; and after consideration of all the facts presented, and consultation with the circuit judge who signed the original order, it is thought that the order should be modified by reducing the bail to the sum of $25,000.
In re WILLIAMS & LEIDIG, Bankrupts.
(District Court, E. D. Pennsylvania. June 27, 1882.)
BANKRUPTCY-DISCHARGE-FAILURE TO KEEP PROPER Books.
A firm, during less than three years prior to their bankruptcy, had received from an individual notes and drafts to the amount of $42,881.79, which they had procured to be discounted. Neither their ledger nor cash-book contained any entries of these transactions, nor did the name of the party from whom the notes were received appear therein. The bill-book contained nothing relating thereto, except some lead-pencil entries in the back of the book. The bankrupts had lost over $30,000 in less than three years, and their goods were, at the time of their bankruptcy, under execution upon a judgment confessed to the creditor from whom they had received the notes. Held, that the failure to enter these note transactions in their books was a failure to keep proper books of account, and would prevent their discharge.
*Reported by Frank P. Prichard, Esq., of the Philadelphia bar.
Exceptions to the report of a register upon an application for a discharge.
The register had reported that the bankrupts had commenced business October 1, 1873, with a capital of $8,000, and stopped July 5, 1876; that when they failed they owed one Christopher Heebner $8,500, on acceptances; that they had received from said Heebner and had procured to be discounted notes and drafts to the amount of $42,881.79, of which the said sum of $8,500 was unpaid at the time of their failure; that neither their ledger nor cash-book showed either the receipt of any such sum of money or the disbursement thereof, nor did Heebner's name appear therein; that of the sum of $42,881.79 received from Heebner, $23,581.79 thereof was said to be composed of certain lead-pencil entries made in the back of the bill-book; that nothing appeared in connection therewith on the book to show Heebner's relation thereto; that in view of the fact that the bankrupts failed for $23,900, and lost $8,000 capital in addition, in less than three years, and were under a levy of Heebner's, having confessed judgment to him, their stock of goods on hand at the time not amounting to over $7,000, the register was of opinion that their failure to enter on their books the disposition of so large a sum as $42,881.79 was ground for refusing them their discharge, as not having kept proper books of account. To this report the bankrupts excepted.
David C. Harrington, for bankrupts.
BUTLER, D. J. Looking at this case with a desire to relieve the bankrupts, if it be done consistently with justice to others, I find myself compelled to sustain the register's report against them. Very great liberality has been exercised by the courts in construing and applying the statutory provision requiring merchants and tradesmen to “keep proper books of account,”—so great in some instances as almost to nullify the law. There is no hardship in enforcing this provision. Its purpose is to require dealers to keep such accounts as will exhibit their business and standing not only to themselves, but also to their creditors, before and after failure. This is not