Rosen v. United States,
245 U.S. 467 (1918)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Rosen v. United States, 245 U.S. 467 (1918)

Rosen v. United States

Nos. 365, 438

Argued December 12, 1917

Decided January 7, 1918

245 U.S. 467


Under the modern rule, supported both by legislation and by the very great weight of judicial authority, all persons of competent understanding are permitted to testify to relevant facts within their knowledge, and the former common law rule disqualifying witnesses convicted of crime will no longer be followed, but such conviction will be given due consideration in determining the credibility and weight of their testimony.

In a criminal trial in a United States district court in New York, a witness, previously sentenced and imprisoned under the law of that state for the crime of forgery in the second degree, was competent to testify for the United States against his codefendants, irrespective of whether he would have been disqualified by the rules of competency as they were in New York at the date of the Judiciary Act of 1789. United States v. Reid, 12 How. 361, is to this extent disapproved.

Under Rev.Stats., § 161, which authorizes the head of each department

"to prescribe regulations, not inconsistent with law, for the government of his department, the conduct of its officers and clerks, the distribution and performance of its business, and the custody, use, and preservation of the . . . property appertaining to it, "

Page 245 U. S. 468

and under and in supplement of § 194 of the Criminal Code, the Postmaster General, by a general order, may designate as letter boxes for the receipt or delivery of mail matter all letter boxes and other receptacles which are so used or intended on city delivery or other mail route, a privately owned box coming within such designation is an "authorized depository for mail matter" within the meaning of the penal section, and a theft of letter from such a box is punishable as the section prescribes. So held where the letters were stolen from boxes placed by tenants for receipt of mail in the halls of buildings in which they had their place of business. The boxes bore the names of the owner and were not locked. Mail was deposited in them by the carriers, but not collected from them.

Mail matter which has not reached the manual possession of the addressee, but lies in a private letter box, designated as an authorized depository under the federal law, where it has been placed by the delivering earlier, is still subject to the protective power of the government.

237 F. 810, 240 F. 350, affirmed.

The cases are stated in the opinion.

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