Here's an interesting legal case from the files of the Richmond Register.
Harry had two minor vices.
He liked to place a bet now and then and he liked to drink a little here and there -- which got him into a lot of trouble.
He went to the race track one day and placed several bets judiciously, won a lot of money and ended up before a judge. On the way home from the track, he decided to stop at a local gin mill to celebrate his good fortune and, after hoisting too many, was arrested. Not for being a ruckus but for passing counterfeit money.
It seemed that during his celebration, Harry flamboyantly took a $5 bill of out his wallet, placed a match to it and along with several other boozers, watched it burn to a crisp. Whereupon, the bartender examined what was left of the fiver and deciding it was funny money, had Harry hauled off to jail on charges of making money without earning it.
"I'm innocent," Harry insisted when brought before the judge. "I didn't know the $5 bill was bogus."
"A likely story," responded the prosecuting attorney. "The only person who would set fire to a $5 bill, obviously, is someone who knows its counterfeit and not worth the paper it is printed on."
IF YOU WERE THE JUDGE ...
Would you convict Harry of passing counterfeit money?
THIS IS HOW THE JUDGE RULED ...
The judge held that burning the $5 bill was insufficient evidence to infer that Harry had known the $5 bill was counterfeit. While it is most unusual to burn a $5 bill, noted the judge, it was more reasonable to believe that Harry destroyed the bogus bill because of his drunken state rather than because he thought it was worthless.
Based on a 1949 United States Court of Appeals decision.
To read the complete article, see:
The case of the bogus burning bill
Wayne Homren, Editor
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