United States v. Amedy
24 U.S. 392 (1826)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Amedy, 24 U.S. 11 Wheat. 392 392 (1826)

United States v. Amedy

24 U.S. (11 Wheat.) 392

Syllabus

Under the act of 26 May 1790, ch. 38, copies of the legislative acts of the several states, authenticated by having the seal of the state affixed thereto, are conclusive evidence of such acts in the courts of other states, and of the union. No other formality is required than the annexation of the seal, and in the absence of all contrary proof, it must be presumed to have been done by an officer having the custody thereof, and competent authority to do the act.

Under the Crimes Act of 26 March, 1804, ch. 393, v. 2, on an indictment for destroying a vessel with intent to prejudice the underwriters, it is sufficient to show the existence of an association actually carrying on the business of insurance by whose known officers de facto the policy was executed, and to prejudice whom the vessel insured was destroyed, without proving the existence of a legal corporation authorized to insure or a compliance on the part of such corporation with the terms of its charter or the validity of the policy of insurance.

The terms "any person or persons" in the act extend to corporations and bodies politic as well as to natural persons.

The prisoner, John B. Amedy, was indicted in the Circuit Court of Virginia under the Act

Page 24 U. S. 393

of Congress of 26 March, 1804, c. 393, for destroying a vessel with intent to prejudice the underwriters, and after a verdict of guilty, his counsel moved the court for a new trial upon the following grounds:

1. That the exemplification of the acts of the Legislature of the State of Massachusetts incorporating the Boston Insurance Company (who was the underwriters) given at the trial was not admissible in evidence as a sufficient verification thereof. The papers given in evidence were printed copies of the acts, with certain erasures and interlineations in writing, and to the copy of each act was annexed a separate attestation in the following words: "A true copy,

Page 24 U. S. 394

attest, Edward D. Bangs, secretary." The copies were attached together and exemplified under the great seal of the State of Massachusetts, with the following certificate annexed:

"Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Secretary's Department, November 12, 1825. I certify that the printed copies of the following acts, viz., 'An act to define the Powers, Duties, and Restrictions of Insurance Companies'; 'An act authorizing the several Insurance Companies in this Commonwealth to insure against Fire'; 'An act to incorporate the Boston Insurance Company'; 'An act to incorporate the Commonwealth Insurance Company', and 'An act in addition to an act entitled An act to incorporate the Commonwealth Insurance Company,' to which printed copies this certificate is annexed, have been by me compared with the original acts on file in this office, and that the same are now true copies of the said original acts, except the usual attestation of enactment, and signatures subjoined to each act. In testimony whereof I hereunto set my hand and have affixed the seal of said Commonwealth, the day and year above mentioned. [Signed] EDWARD D. BANGS, Secretary of the Commonwealth."

2. That before the policy of insurance underwritten by the Boston Insurance Company could be given in evidence, it was necessary to prove that the subscription to the stock and the payment of such subscription as required by the act of incorporation had actually been made. The policy of insurance was admitted

Page 24 U. S. 395

in evidence by the court below without proof that the subscription to the stock had actually been made, it being proved that there was a company in Boston called the Boston Insurance Company doing the business of insurance and paying losses when incurred, and that the paper produced was executed after the manner in which they usually made their policies of insurance.

3. That the policy ought to have been proved to be executed by the authority of the company in such manner as to be legally binding on them.

4. That the court instructed the jury

"That it was not material whether the company was incorporated or not, and it was not material whether the policy were valid in law or not; that the prisoner's guilt did not depend upon the legal obligation of the policy, but upon the question whether he had willfully and corruptly cast away the vessel, as charged in the indictment, with intent to injure the underwriters."

The judges of the court below having been divided in opinion upon the motion for a new trial, the case was brought before this Court upon a certificate of that division.

Page 24 U. S. 406

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