Definitions from Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition and Ballentine's Law Dictionary as are available for each term in each dictionary.
  • Ballentine's Law Dictionary

    False assumption of official authority.

  • Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition

    An act unjustly done by the countenance of an office, being grounded upon corruption, to which the office is as a shadow and color. Plow. 64. A claim or assumption of right to do an act by virtue of an office, made by a person who is legally destitute of any such right. Feller v. Gates, 40 Or. 543, 67 Pac. 416, 56 L. R. A. 630, 91 Am. St. Rep. 492; State v. Fowler, 88 Md. 601, 42 Atl. 201, 42 L. R. A. 849, 71 Am. St. Rep. 452; Bishop v. Mc-Gillis, 80 Wis. 575, 50 N. W. 779, 27 Am. St. Rep. 63; Decker v. Judson, 16 N. Y. 439; Mason v. Crabtree, 71 Ala. 481; Morton v. Campbell, 37 Barb. (N. Y.) 181; Luther v. Banks, 111 Ga. 374, 36 S. E. 826; People v. Schuyler, 4 N. Y. 187. The phrase implies, we think, some official power Vested in the actor,—he must be at least officer de facto. We do not understand that an act-of a mere pretender to an office, or false personator of an officer, is said to be done by color of office. And it implies an illegal claim of authority, by virtue of the office, to do the act or thing in question. Burrall v. Acker, 23 Wend. (N. Y.) 606. 35 Am. Dec. 582.