22 Ky.L.Rptr. 1674, 110 Ky. 233
Court of Appeals of Kentucky.
March 6, 1901.
ACTION: Reversed.

Appeal from circuit court, Knox county.
"To be officially reported."
John Colson was convicted of uttering and publishing a forged instrument, and he appeals.

Appellant was indicted, tried, and convicted of the crime of uttering and publishing a forged instrument. His punishment was fixed at six years in the penitentiary, and he appeals. There was a demurrer to the indictment, which was overruled, and the sufficiency of the indictment is seriously questioned here. The instrument that was charged to have been forged and uttered and published by appellant is a letter purporting to have been written by Ellen Goodin, inviting the appellant to her house for a private conversation. It reads: "Barbourville, Ky., July 27, 1900. Mr. John Colson, Sir, I want you to come here some time when they is nobody hear. I have got something to tell you. It is about what you saw at Mother's. An dont fail to come. You can come some nite when they hant nobody hear. Elen Goodin." In our opinion, it is clear that such writing is not the subject of indictable forgery. Indeed, the attorney general, in his brief, confesses the insufficiency of the indictment. "To constitute an indictable forgery," says Mr. Bishop "it is not alone sufficient that there be a writing, and that the writing be false. It must also be such as, if true, would be of some legal efficacy, real or apparent, since otherwise it has no legal tendency to defraud." In section 523 forgery is defined to be "the false making or materially altering, with intent to defraud, of any writing which, if genuine, might apparently be of legal efficacy or the foundation of a legal liability." Mr. Blackstone defines forgery to be "the fraudulent making or alteration of a writing to the prejudice of another man's right." "Forgery is the false making or alteration, with fraudulent intent, of any writing, by which the party committing the act may wrongfully obtain something of value to the prejudice of another's rights because of the apparent legal efficacy of the writing and its capacity to deceive." The statute upon which this indictment is supposed to rest reads: "If any person shall forge or counterfeit any writing whatever, whereby fraudulently to obtain the possession of or deprive another of any money or property, or cause him to be injured in his estate or lawful rights, or if he shall utter and publish such instrument knowing it to be forged and counterfeited, he shall be confined," etc. Section 1188, Ky. St. Just preceding this section there are set out various instruments declared to be the subject of forgery, and then this section (1188) follows. This section cannot mean that the forging or counterfeiting of any writing is an indictable forgery. The writing forged or counterfeited must be apparently such as will deprive a person of property or estate of a legal right. The words "legal right," as used in the statutes, evidently mean a right that may be enforced in a civil action. The writing charged in the indictment to have been uttered with knowledge that it was a forgery does not come within the class of writings that either under the common law or the statute are subjects of an indictable forgery. On its face there is no appearance of legal efficacy, nor of anything to injure any person in his estate or property or lawful rights. The judgment is reversed, and the case remanded, with directions to sustain the demurrer to the indictment.

GUFFY, J., dissenting.

Ky.App. 1901.
61 S.W. 46, 22 Ky.L.Rptr. 1674, 110 Ky. 233


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