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Statement of the Case.
his benefit. The pensioner testified that she supposed the check was drawn for twenty-five dollars in favor of her son, while the drawee of the check, Hurley Ballew, testified that it was given him in payment for an insignificant service rendered in connection with the procuring of testimony during the prosecution of the claim for the pension. There was testimony on the second count tending to support the same, although as to this count there was also a conflict in the evidence.
During the course of the trial a page from the records of the Pension Office, showing the issue of the pension to the pensioner named in the indictment, was offered and admitted in evidence over the objection of the accused, to which action of the court exception was duly reserved.
One J. B. Chamblee was examined as a witness for the defendant, and exception was reserved to the exclusion of testimony given on his redirect examination. At the close of the evidence the following instruction was requested by counsel for the accused, which was refused and exception noted.
"When a pension check is delivered to a pensioner, and she takes the same to a bank and has it cashed, and then deposits the said fund in a bank and takes a deposit slip therefor, the fund loses its nature and character as pension money, and the ordinary relation of debtor and creditor exists between the pensioner and the bank, and if thereafter, by any device or in any way whatever, the pension attorney obtains a draft from her and draws it out of her general account, he cannot be convicted of withholding under section 5485 of the Revised Statutes, and it would be your duty to acquit him on that count, if these be the facts as to that branch of the case."
The giving of the following as part of the charge of the court was also excepted to by defendant:
"Now, the defence here is that the amount of the check received from Mr. Rule, the pension agent, really went into the possession of the pensioner in this case, and the contention for the government is that under the facts of the case the money really did not go into her possession in contemplation of law, and they also contend that the attorney, the de
Statement of the Case.
fendant in this case, could not withhold the money or any part of it by getting the check, which is in evidence here, for eighteen hundred and odd dollars.
Upon that branch of the case I instruct you thus: If you believe that the receipt of the pension check under all the circumstances connected with it, and the possession of the pension check by the defendant in this case, and the taking of the check to the bank and his accompanying the pensioner to the bank, the turning of the check into cash and the payment of money to her, the physical possession placed in her by putting the money in her hat, the deposit of the money in the bank, and the taking of the pensioner to the office of the defendant and the drawing of the check for eighteen hundred dollars; if you believe that this was all one transaction arranged and designed by the defendant in this case for the purpose of getting into his possession eighteen hundred dollars of the money which the pensioner received; that it was a scheme designed by him, one continuous transaction, for that purpose, and that he was a party to it and was the beneficiary of the money received, then that would be in law a withholding of the money under this statute, and the defendant would be guilty, and it would be your duty to convict him; but it would be necessary for you to believe that. The other rule which I gave you is true and exists in law, that is, that the money can be paid by their attorney to the pensioner, and thereafter there might be a transaction between them which, of course, would be entirely legal and honest, by which the cash could pass from the pensioner to the attorney, but that would depend on the character of the transaction. The jury will see the facts, and I state it to you again, that if all these facts or series of facts are one continuous transaction designed by the defendant and arranged by him, as contended by the government, for the purpose of getting into his possession eighteen hundred and odd dollars of the money of the pensioner, and that he did receive it or was the beneficiary of the receipt of it, then that would be withholding in the meaning of the statute. Now, the facts in this case are for the jury to determine. The check signed by the pensioner, which
Opinion of the Court.
seems to be made to Hurley Ballew and endorsed by him, is in evidence and you will have that out with you."
The court instructed the jury that if they considered the defendant guilty on one count and innocent on the other, they should so find; and if they found him guilty on both counts, that they should return a general verdict of guilty. This last was the verdict returned. After an ineffectual effort for a new trial, the case was brought here on error.
Mr. W. C. Glenn, (with whom was Mr. Daniel W. Rountree on the brief,) for plaintiff in error.
Mr. Assistant Attorney General Whitney for defendant in
MR. JUSTICE WHITE, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court.
The assignments of error address themselves to four rulings of the court, the one admitting in evidence the pension certificate and the other excluding certain testimony, and two to the refusal to give the instruction requested, as well as to the error alleged in the instruction given.
The ground of objection relied upon as to the record from the Pension Office is that the copy was improperly authenticated, because the certificate signed by the acting Secretary of the Interior, and under the seal of the department, referred only to the official character of the Commissioner of Pensions, and the faith and credit to which his attestations were entitled, and Rev. Stat. § 882 is cited in support of the contention. That section reads as follows:
"Copies of any books, records, papers, or documents in any of the Executive Departments, authenticated under the seals of such Departments, respectively, shall be admitted in evidence equally with the originals thereof."
By reference to the transcript in question in the record, we find that the certificate of the acting Secretary of the Interior was preceded by a certificate signed "Wm. Lochren, Commissioner of Pensions," certifying that "the accompanying page,
Opinion of the Court.
numbered 1, is truly copied from the original in the office of the Commissioner of Pensions." The records of the Pension Office constitute part of the records of the Department of the Interior, of which Executive Department the Pension Office is but a constituent. We think that the certificates in question, taken together, were a substantial compliance with the statute.
The exception taken to the ruling out of certain answers made by Chamblee, one of defendant's witnesses, on his redirect examination, results from the following facts: The witness upon his examination in chief testified solely with reference to the circumstances connected with the giving by the pensioner of the check of $1887.34, which formed the basis of the charge of withholding covered by the first count in the indictment. The cross examination was confined to the same subject. At the close of the cross examination the witness stated that he had been asked by a special examiner of pensions, who was investigating the matter, what he knew about the consideration of the check in question. The witness further said that A. W. Ballew came and asked him if he had been interviewed by the examiner, to which inquiry of Ballew the witness stated he had answered yes, and had informed Ballew that the examiner had questioned him about the eighteen hundred dollar check, and that he told him that he thought the check had been given for a house and lot. The witness next stated that Mr. Ballew then told him that the pensioner had given the check to Hurley Ballew.
Upon redirect examination he testified as follows:
"Q. In that conversation with A. W. Ballew, the defendant here, what did he say was the basis of that money given to Hurley Ballew?
"A. What did A. W. Ballew say he done as a matter of inducement to her?
"A. I don't know anything, only that he prosecuted this pension claim, and as to what he had to do with Hurley I don't know that he ever said anything. I think he told me he got his fee from the pension department as attorney.
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"Q. That is all he ever got?
"A. That is all he got, I think he told me.
"Q. That he got his fee from the pension department? "A. That is all he ever got."
Objection being interposed by the district attorney to proof of Ballew's declarations, the objection was sustained and the testimony excluded from the consideration of the jury.
The ground upon which counsel for plaintiff in error rests his claim of admissibility is that when a confession is put in evidence by the prosecution, it is the right of the accused to demand that all of the conversation in which the alleged confession was made should be received. We are unable to reach the conclusion that Ballew's mere statement to a witness, that the pensioner had given his son the check, was a confession, or in the nature of a confession. It had no tendency to establish his guilt or to operate to his prejudice, and confessions are only admitted as being statements against the interest of the party by whom they are claimed to have been made. But the reëxamination of the witness was not directed to the ascertainment of what other statements had been made in the conversation upon the subject about which he had testified on his cross-examination, to wit, the check to Hurley Ballew, but to the drawing out of new matter, not connected with the subject to which the cross-examination related. This was clearly improper. 1 Greenleaf on Evidence, § 467, and cases cited. See, also, cases cited in note a to Ibid. 15th ed. § 201, and People v. Beach, 87 N. Y. 508, 512.
The statute upon which the first count is based reads as follows:
"Any agent or attorney or other person instrumental in prosecuting any claim for pension or bounty land, who shall directly or indirectly contract for, demand, or receive, or retain any greater compensation for his services or instrumentality in prosecuting a claim for pension or bounty land than is herein provided, or for payment thereof at any other time or in any other manner than is herein provided, or who shall wrongfully withhold from a pensioner or claimant the whole or any part of the pension or claim allowed and due such pen