United States v. Turner,
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32 U.S. 132 (1833)
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U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. Turner, 32 U.S. 7 Pet. 132 132 (1833)
United States v. Turner
32 U.S. (7 Pet.) 132
Indictment in the Circuit Court of North Carolina for the forgery of and an attempt to pass, &c., a certain paper of writing in imitation of, and purporting to be a bill or note issued by the president, directors, and company of the Bank of the United States. The note was signed with the name of John Huske, who had not been at any time president of the Bank of the United States, but who, at the time of the date of the counterfeit, was the president of the office of discount at Fayetteville, and was countersigned by the name of John W. Sanford, who at no time was cashier of the mother bank, but was at the said date cashier of the said office of discount and deposit. Held that this was an offense within the provisions of the law.
It is clear that the policy of the act extends to the case. The object is to guard the public from false and counterfeit paper purporting on its face to be issued by the bank. It could not be presumed that persons in general could be cognizant of the fact who, at particular periods, were the president and cashier of the bank. They were officers liable to be removed at the pleasure of the directors, and the times of their appointment or removal, or even their names, could not ordinarily be within the knowledge of the body of the citizens. The public mischief would be equally great whether the names were those of the genuine officers or of fictitious or unauthorized persons, and ordinary diligence would not protect them against imposition.
The defendant, Abel Turner, was indicted at May term, 1832, in the circuit court under the 18th section of the act incorporating the Bank of the United States, passed in April, 1816.
The indictment contained four counts.
The first count charged the defendant with having forged and counterfeited a bill or note issued by the orders of the president, directors, and company of the Bank of the United States, the tenor of which said false, forged, and counterfeited paper writing was as follows, to-wit:
"The president, directors, and company of the Bank of the United States promise to pay twenty dollars, on demand, at their office of discount and
deposit, in Fayetteville, to the order of D. Anderson, cashier thereof. Philadelphia, 4 July, 1827. John W. Sandford cashier, John Huske, president,"
with intent to defraud the president, directors, and company of the Bank of the United States, against the form of the act of Congress, &c.
The second count charged the defendant with an attempt to pass the said note, describing it in the same form, knowing it to be forged, with intent to defraud the Bank of the United States.
The third count charged the offense of passing, uttering and publishing the same note with intent to defraud the bank.
The fourth and fifth counts charged the defendant with an attempt to pass and with having passed the note to one Elliott with intent to defraud him. The note was described in the counts in the same form and terms as in the first count.
The jury found the defendant guilty on the fourth and fifth counts and not guilty as to the residue.
Upon the trial of the cause, it occurred as a question whether the attempt to pass the counterfeit bill, in the indictment mentioned knowing the same to be counterfeit, the said bill signed with the name of John Huske, who had not at any time been president of the Bank of the United States, but at the time of the date of the said counterfeit bill was the president of the office of discount and deposit of the Bank of the United States at Fayetteville, and countersigned with the name of John W. Sandford, who at no time was cashier of the Bank of the United States, but was at the date aforesaid cashier of the said office of discount and deposit, was an offense within the provisions of the act entitled an act to incorporate the subscribers to the Bank of the United States, upon which question the judges, being divided in opinion, ordered that the same should be certified to the Supreme Court of the United States for the opinion of that Court.