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Opinion of the Court.
Again, it is said that this company entered into a valid contract in Alabama with the sender of the message, which provided that it would not be liable for mistakes in its transmission beyond the sum received for sending the message, unless the sender ordered it to be repeated and paid half the sum in addition, and this statute changed the liability of the company as it would otherwise exist. The message was not repeated. This kind of a contract it is said was a reasonable one, and has been so held by this court. Primrose v. Western Union Telegraph Co., 154 U. S. 1. This, however, is not an action by the person who sent the message from Alabama, and this plaintiff is not concerned with that contract, whatever
There was no mistake in the transmission of the message, and there was no breach of the agreement. The action here is not founded upon any agreement and the judgment neither affects nor violates the contract mentioned. Nor are we here concerned with the provisions of the third section of the act relating to the damages to be recovered in the case of cipher messages. This was not such a message, and this judgment is solely based upon the penalty granted by the statute for non-delivery, and could be sustained even if the third section of the act were not valid, which is a question we do not decide nor express any opinion concerning it. The residue of the act could stand without the third section. After a careful review of the case, we think the judgment is right and that it should be
MR. JUSTICE SUiras and MR. JUSTICE WUTE dissent, and refer for their reasons to the case of Western Union Telegraph Co. v. Pendleton, 122 U. S. 347.
COFFIN V. UNITED STATES.
ERROR TO THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE UNITED STATES FOR THE
DISTRICT OF INDIANA.
No. 301. Argued March 5, 6, 1896. -- Decided May 4, 1896.
Coffin v. United States, 156 U. S. 432, affirmed on the following points : (1) That the offence of aiding or abetting an officer of a national bank
in committing one or more of the offences set forth in Rev. Stat. § 5209, may be committed by persons who are not officers or agents of the bank, and, consequently, it is not necessary to aver in an indictment against such an aider or abettor that he was an officer of the bank, or occupied any specific relation to it when
committing the offence; (2) That the plain and unmistakable statement of the indictment in that
case and this, as a whole, is that the acts charged against Haughey were done by him as president of the bank, and that the aiding and abetting was also done by assisting him in the official capacity
in which alone it is charged that he misapplied the funds. Instructions requested may be properly refused when fully covered by the
general charge of the court. When the charge, as a whole, correctly conveys to the jury the rule by
which they are to determine, from all the evidence, the question of intent, there is no error in refusing the request of the defendant to single out the absence of one of the several possible motives for the commission of the offence, and instruct the jury as to the weight to be given to
this particular fact, independent of the other proof in the case. The refusal to give, when requested, a correct legal proposition does not
constitute error, unless there be evidence rendering the legal theory ap
plicable to the case. When it is impossible to determine whether there was evidence tending to
show a state of facts adequate to make a refused instruction pertinent, and there is nothing else in the bill of exceptions to which the stated princi
ple could apply, there is no error in refusing it. Several other exceptions are examined and held to be without merit. A bank president, not acting in good faith, has no right to permit over
drafts when he does not believe, and has no reasonable ground to believe, that the moneys can be repaid; and if coupled with such wrongful act, the proof establishes that he intended by the transaction to injure and
defraud the bank, the wrongful act becomes a crime. When the principal offender in the commission of the offence made criminal
by Rev. Stat. § 5209 and the aider and abettor were both actuated by the
Opinion of the Court.
criminal intent specified in the statute, it is immaterial that the principal offender should be further charged in the indictment with having had other intents.
The various counts of the indictment in this case charged Francis A. Coffin, the plaintiff in error, Percival B. Coffin, and Albert S. Reed with having (in violation of section 5209 of the Revised Statutes) aided and abetted one Haughey, as president of the Indianapolis National Bank, in criminal misapplications of the moneys, funds and credits of that bank, and with having aided and abetted the making or causing to be made by Haughey of a false entry on the books of the bank. A prior conviction of the plaintiff in error and Percival B. Coffin, upon the indictment in question, was here reviewed and the verdict and sentence were reversed. 156 U. S. 432. On the second trial only seventeen out of the fifty counts contained in the indictment were submitted to the jury, and a verdict was returned finding the plaintiff in error guilty on seven counts, that is, Nos. 4, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 39, and the defendant Percival B. Coflin not guilty. After the overruling of a motion for a new trial and in arrest of judgment, plaintiff in error was sentenced on each of the seven counts to imprisonment in the penitentiary for eight years. The imprisonment under each count was ordered to be concurrent and not cumulative. This writ of error was thereupon sued out.
Mr. W. 11. 11. Miller and Mr. Ferdinand Winter, (with whom was John B. Elam on the brief,) for plaintiff in error.
Mr. Solicitor General for defendants in error.
MR. JUSTICE WHITE, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court.
Fifty-two requests for instructions were submitted on behalf of the defendants to the trial court. The assignments of error are sixty-two in number. The uselessness of this multitude of assignments is demonstrated by the fact that but nineteen out of the sixty-two were relied upon at bar. These nineteen are grouped in the brief of counsel for plaintiff in error under
Opinion of the Court.
twelve headings. We shall confine our examination to the consideration of the matters embraced under these headings, and in the order in which they are discussed by counsel.
I. Point 1 alleges that the court erred in refusing to give instructions requested, numbered 47 and 48.
No. 47 reads as follows:
“47. In the indictment in this case it is charged that Theodore P. Haughey, president of the Indianapolis National Bank, with intent to injure and defraud the bank, wilfully misapplied the funds of the bank, and also that, with intent to defraud the bank and to deceive an agent appointed or to be appointed to examine its affairs, he made or caused to be made false entries upon the books of the bank. The defendants Francis A. Coffin and Percival B. Coffin are charged with baving, with like intent, aided and abetted said Haughey in said wrongful acts. In order to sustain this charge of aiding and abetting against the defendants the evidence must show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendants acted in the matter with a like intent as that attending the action of Mr. Ilaughey — that is, it must be shown that the Coffins, charged as aiders and abettors, stood in a similar relation to the alleged crime as Mr. Haughey; that they approached it from the same direction and touched it at the same point. If, as matter of fact, in any of the transactions charged as criminal in this indictment, Mr. Haughey acted with one intent and the defendants acted with a different and unlike intent, then, as to that transaction, they are not guilty as charged in this indictment."
No. 48 is similar to No. 47, except that the words “stood in a similar relation to the alleged crime,” contained in the third sentence of No. 47, are omitted in No. 48.
We beld in our former opinion, 156 U. S. 446, that the language of the statute fully demonstrated the unsoundness of the contention then advanced, that no offence was stated in the indictment against the aiders and abettors, because in none of the counts was it asserted that they were officers of the bank or occupied any specific official relation to it.
The ruling then made establishes the error of the foregoing
Opinion of the Court.
requests to charge, and hence, practically, disposes of the questions arising under this heading. However, as counsel now contend that their former position was misunderstood and was not adequately met by the reasoning previously adopted, we add the following considerations': The contention now advanced admits that one not an officer of the bank may be, under some circumstances, an aider or abettor in violation of section 5209, Revised Statutes, but urges that in order to be such aider or abettor the person so charged, when not an officer of the bank, must stand in such relation to the recreant bank officer, or have such interest with him in other enterprises, “as that they may work together for the hurt of the bank for a common purpose.” In other words, the argument substantially asserts that an essential element of the offence of aiding and abetting is the existence of a common purpose between the officer and the aider and abettor to promote or subserve the joint interest of the wrongdoers in enterprises in which they are mutually interested. But the statute nowhere requires that there should be a "common purpose" on the part of the principal and the aider and abettor to subserve their joint interests by the misapplication committed. It only requires that there should be a misapplication of the moneys of the bank with a joint intent to “injure or defraud the association or any other company, body politic or corporate, or any individual person, or to deceive any officer of the association or any agent appointed to examine the affairs of such association." It is clear that the statute has been violated if the one charged with aiding and abetting is shown to have actually aided and abetted the officer of the bank in misapplying its funds, no matter whom the accused may have ultimately intended to benefit by his misconduct, provided, of course, there existed the intent to defraud enumerated in the act of Congress. In accord with this view the court properly in. structed the jury that there must have existed in the minds of both Haughey and the defendants the wrongful intent stated in the law. The intent contemplated by counsel in the requested instruction was evidently the other and different one heretofore referred to, namely, the beneficial purpose to