UNITED STATES tI. EL'tIOTT.
UNITED STATES V.,ELLIOTT.
(Di.strl.ct Oourt, D. Kentucky. July 8, 1899.)
POST OnTOB-NONMAILABLlll MATTER-DUNNING POSTAL CARD.
A postal card n6ticetbat rent was due and, unpaid, and, if Dot paid by a cel'taill date, that tbe"lnatter would be placJ('Q in the l:iandsof ao officer," does not C()me ,witbin the probibition of the act of September, 1SS" declaring nonmailable anypoltal card of a "threatening character," and "ohviouslyintended,ll from its "tE'l'!US, manner, and style of display, to rellect injuriously upon the character of anotber." '
At L$w. Indictment of R. G. Elliott for mailing a nonmailable postal card. Demurrer to indictment sustained. ' ' Goo. W. Jolly, U. S. Atty. Wm. ,R. Sneed, for defendant.
Jlldge. The indictment charges the with kqowin'gly depositing in the mail of the United States for transportation a postal card, which is in the foJlowing language, viz.: ' "LEXiNGTON, KY., 1892· ..E. R. Oder: Your rent was due Thursday, Feu'y 25th, 1892, and has not been paid. If the rent is not paid uy Thursday, Mch. lird, 1892, I will place the matter in the hands of an ollker. R. G. ELLIOTT," "Respectfully, .l.hemailingofthiscard.itis claimed, violated the act of September, 1888, in regard to nonmailable matter, and this is the question raised by the demurrer. That act declares nonmailable any postal card upon which there are.. Any delineations. epithets. or language of an indecent. lewd. lasciviOU8. obscene, libelous, sCllrrUonll, defamatory. or threatening charilcter. or calculated by the terms, manner. or style of display, lind obviously intended, to reflect injuriously upon the character or conduct of another." It cannot be said that there is in the terms, manner, or style of display on this postal card an obvious intention to affect injuriously the character of Mr. Oder. Is the postal card of a threatening character? Clearly, Mr. Elliott had the legal right to put his claim for rent past due in the hands of an officer for collection. The notice of that fact was not legally necessary, but, as he gave another and extended day of payment, I cannot think the notification that. if not then paid, it would be put in the hands of an officer, is of the threatening character mentioned in the statute. This act is highly penal, and should be strictly construed. There is, we think, nothing in the language of this act or the general law which prohibits the use of postal cards for the simple purpose of asking payment of a past-due debt, or of notifying a debtor that, if not paid, legal steps will be taken for its collection. In this case Elliott reminded Oder that his rent was past due, which was presumably,well known to him; but, as he extended the time for payment, and said if not then paid he would place the claiill in the hands of an officer, it was
FEnERAL REPORtllR, vol. 51.
rather a notification than a threat such as is intended by the statute. This is not the case of a 'collecting agency that has its cards or envelopes l>rinted in such a way as to make a display to attract attention, and thus proclaim that their correspondents are delinquent debtors, as in the case of U. 8. v. Brown, 43 Fed. Rep. 135. Neither is the present case eX7 that of U. 8. v. Bayle, 40 Fed. Rep. 664. In that case the amoautdue was only $1.80, and on the 18thof April, 1889, the debtor, Greh;'wtls sent a postal card, in which he was reminded· of the debt being Plu:i't due, and that he had been called up'on several 'times for payment, and the statement then made, "If not paid at once, we shall place with our law agency for collection;" and dl:J.Ys afterwards, May 1, 1889, another postal was, i.n substantially the same language, sent. The smallness of the debt, and the sending a second time substantially the same card, may have induced the leax;qed court to believe the mail was being used for the mere purpose of publishing d!l\>tor's delinquency. The case is not, therefore, quite in point to ,the ope at the bar. I, however, cannot concur in the reasoning or the conclusion of the able court in that case. The demurrer should be sustaiped, and it is so ordered. '
(Dfstrlct:CoUrt, W. D.Arkansa8. July 8,1892.).
_:.. Section 2189, Rev. St" prpv,ldes that "every person who * * * introduces, or at, tempts to introduce. any sPIrit'uous liquors or wine into the Indian country shall be " 'punishable," etc. According to the true sense ofthewords "spirituous liquor," as used in this statute,lllgel1,peer is comprehended by its terms, and it is spirituous liquor, and its introduction into the Indian country was intended by the statute to be prohibited, and the ,words "spirituous liquor" are comprehensive enough to embrace lager beer. , It is true there can h'e constructive"ot'fenses, and penal laws are to be con",': struad strictly; yet they are not to be construed so strictly as to defeat the obvious intention of the leg-islature. The true rule in the construction of all statutes is to search 'out and follow the true intent of the legislature, and to adopt the' sense of the words which harmonizes best with the context, and. promotes in the fullest manner the apparent policy and objects of the legislature. Courts, in the construction of penal statutes. will give them a fair and reasonable construction, according to the legislative intent expressed in the enactment.. Tl:tey will, upon the one hand, refuse to extend the punishment to cases which are not clearly embraced in them, and, on the otber. will' equally refuse, by any mere verbal nicety, forced constructions, or equitable interpretation, to exonerate parties plainly within their scope. (SytlabU$ by the Oourt.)
LIQUOR IN.'I!O JNPIAN COUNTRy-LAGEIt BEEIt.
At Law. John Ellis was innicted for introducing liquor into the )l,dian country. .' . '. , 'Wm. H. H. Clayton, U. S. Dist; 4\.UY. Frederick & Rutheiford and J. B; Forrester, for defendant