Stokes v. United States,
157 U.S. 187 (1895)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Stokes v. United States, 157 U.S. 187 (1895)

Stokes v. United States

No. 746

Submitted March 4, 1895

Decided March 16, 1895

157 U.S. 187


In an indictment and prosecution under Rev.Stat. § 5480, as amended by the Act of March 2, 1889, c. 393, for a conspiracy to defraud by means of the post office, three matters of fact must be charged in the indictment and established by the evidence: (1) that the persons charged devised a scheme to defraud; (2) that they intended to effect this scheme by opening or intending to open correspondence with some other person through the post office establishment or by inciting such other person to open communication with them; (3) and that, in carrying out such scheme, such person must have either deposited a letter or packet in the post office or taken or received one therefrom.

An objection to the admissibility of an envelope against the defendant in such a case upon the ground that it was not shown to be in his handwriting is not sustained, as the bill of exceptions did not purport to contain all the evidence.

Other objections to the admissibility of evidence considered and held to be without merit.

When a paper admitted to be in the handwriting of a defendant in a criminal prosecution is admitted in evidence for another purpose, it is competent for the jury to compare it with the handwriting of a letter which he is accused of, and indicted for, writing for the purpose of drawing their own conclusions respecting the latter.

This was an indictment against the defendant Stokes and thirteen others for a conspiracy to commit the offense described in Rev.Stat. § 5480, of using the post office establishment of the United States for fraudulent purposes.

The artifice was described as one wherein each of the defendants represented himself as a dealer in various kinds o

Page 157 U. S. 188

merchandise, certifying each other to be financially responsible, and ordering merchandise from various parties, having no intention of paying for the same.

Upon the trial, Stokes and eight others were found guilty, and subsequently sentenced to fines and imprisonment.

Defendants thereupon sued out this of error.

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