The Charlotte News

Monday, November 8, 1937

SIX EDITORIALS

Site Ed. Note: As to the reports from the Fayetteville Observer, we observe that we had thought that even by 1862 Rosencrantz had already come to his end. But, as they say, the play must go on.

And, just what the lady reported by the Richmond Dispatch was up to, we cannot quite figure either. For one does not come from the North through Richmond to Raleigh, by way of New Bern, typically. And, if what was meant was Newbern, Va., that is way over on the western side of the state. If there was some other Newbern meant, then it seems only reasonable that the lady or the newspaper should have been accommodating enough to the readers to provide us with that additional information.

Or, it could have been, that the lady was simply a plain liar.

As to "License to Steal", we offer comment that the crime of theft, at least as generally defined to mean the intentional taking of the property of another to which one does not have a lawful right of possession at the time and without the intent to return the property to its rightful owner, that is to deprive him or her of it permanently, would not embrace the receiving aspect of the crime of receiving stolen property, for the latter crime is absent the taking element ab initio. And, the receiving element of that latter offense must be had with knowledge of the fact of the property being stolen, not a mere finding by a jury beyond a reasonable doubt and to a moral certainty that there was a belief of that fact held by the receiver, although most jurisdictions allow for the circumstances surrounding the receipt to fill in that knowledge requirement.

So, for instance, should some nice fellow along the street, missing half its parts, offer you a new Cadillac for $25, plus a shoe shine, pass it on by, would be our advice; for if it be stolen, you will be probably held liable, once caught, for receiving stolen goods, even though you present a tidy bill of sale and some story that the fellow told you, that the automobile may be had on the cheap for it has tied to its front bumper an ugly history, one too horrible even to mention, that it took days of fumigation afterwards to make the car the least bit habitable, and now, after the remains were removed, it is just fine, just in need of a little Love. Even so, you are likely liable. For the circumstances surrounding the purchase are such that any reasonable person would likely be deemed by a subsequent jury beyond a reasonable doubt to have purchased the car under such circumstances to cause them reasonably to suspect the car, and the purse inside full of cash, to be stolen. Stay away, for if the story be true, you donít want that car anyway, and if not, you certainly donít want it.

But, if, to find the person guilty of receiving stolen property, a jury were permitted to find only that the person believed the property to be stolen, rather than that he received the stolen property knowingly, considering the attendant circumstances, and within the framework of the legal definition of "knowingly", as determined by the case law or by statute, then it would likely be deemed impermissibly to shift the burden of proof to the defendant, or at least lessen the standard from beyond a reasonable doubt to a mere preponderance of the evidence, the civil standard--akin to negligent receipt of stolen property based on a reasonable belief of its being stolen rather than knowledge, thus insufficent to fulfill the intentional aspects, the scienter required for there to be an intentional act, requisite for the crime of receiving stolen property. For, obviously, to believe a fact to be true requires a lesser quantum of evidence than to know that fact to be true, again the concept of knowledge in this instance being determined circumstantially and by any direct evidence of the attendant facts and circumstances, those which may be reasonably believed by a jury, anyway, and which, in sum, amount to that state of the evidence by which a reasonable person may state with an abiding conviction and to a moral certainty that the charged offense is true beyond a reasonable doubt.

Simple logical nonsense.

Probably, the legislature needed to and did get around to amending the other statute in issue. So, we shall bail on that one.

Here, some more, and more, on the Vice-Presidentís trip to Greensboro on August 17, 1960, a fateful trip, as we have explained.

Wr-rink.

Just why it should come to mind in conjunction with any of these pieces below, we've no idea. But, though you too may find this bit of reportage greatly illuminating of some things, try not to get too many knots in your hosiery regarding it, and don't fall too far into the well, at least not without a bucket. And, try to remember, don't shoot the messenger either. We're just doing our job. Black cloth, 10-10.

Incidentally, we hope that those soft-soap cheerleaders ultimately received that for which they were cheering--or, at very least, wised up to Mother Hubbard.

Ah well, never mind. Sometimes, the hormonal attributes of the young people, you know, get a bit carried away.

By the way, before you get carried away with Mr. Nixon's bold stands, recall that when the testing time came not long afterward, just a few weeks later, as Martin Luther King was thrown in jail in Atlanta for a sit-in at Rich's, Mr. Nixon told his aides that it would be inappropriate for an attorney to intercede and contact the judge, and that he further believed it so when told that Robert Kennedy had telephoned his disgust to the judge and, as a citizen of the United States of America, informed him, politely, that it was illegal for Dr. King to be maintained behind bars without bail, he having been so detained, even after the other 52 demonstrators were released--because his driver's license had expired, you see.

Do you see?

John Kennedy, not a lawyer, as soon as he was informed of the matter on October 19, while at O'Hare Airport in Chicago, immediately telephoned Mrs. King to express his sorrow over the arrest and detention.

Peace, It's Wonderful!

Italy, upon the occasion of her admittance into the anti-Bolshevist brotherhood with Germany and Japan, is careful to say that the fact is directed against no Red nations--that Russia, specifically, "may have all the communism she wants as long as she keeps it at home." And far away in Moscow, on the twentieth anniversary of the Bolshevist Revolution, Defense Commissioner Voroshiloff extols the might of the Red Army--and mighty it is, if numbers mean anything--but he reassures the world that it is an agent of peace, not of war.

This is comforting, to be sure. Italy and Germany and Japan will fight only against the penetration of communism, and Russia will fight only if she is menaced by direct attack. That's mighty white of them all. And now if some bright boy in the audience will just explain what Italy and Germany and Russia are doing in Spain and what Japan and probably Russia too are doing in China, we may be able to reconcile fascist and communist word with fascist and communist deed.

And There Was Lasser

President of the Workers' Alliance in this country, the outfit that marches on Washington to protest any cuts in relief appropriations, that pulls strikes of relief workers, that claims to speak for 500,000 members, is David Lasser. A seasoned troublemaker, Lasser has been actively responsible for illegal picketing of the White House, for occupying state halls in Wisconsin, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Ohio.

And yesterday, when Papa Stalin's boys and girls celebrated the twentieth anniversary of the Red Revolution, who should be there for the celebration, occupying a front seat at the review, but David Lasser. He had every right to be, of course, and probably the spectacle was worth going thousands of miles to see. Nevertheless, it was a pretty brazen thing to do. It raises the suspicion that the Workers' Alliance is about what it's cracked up to be.

Note on Commissions

Prime purpose of the Guffey-Vinson Act, passed by the last Congress, was to stabilize the soft coal industry. To this end the act created and the President appointed a Bituminous Coal Commission of seven members which was given plenary power over the industry. Last week the President called the whole crowd onto the carpet in his White House office.

The trouble was that the commission was at loggerheads with itself. Over the price of coal, which the commission must soon fix? Nope. Over wages and hours in the industry? Nope. Over the question of how much or how little regulation should be applied? Nope. The commission was rent in two by dissension over patronage, over who was to appoint the most jobholders and who was to have the gaudiest offices. Some of the commissioners cannot even find out from the commission itself the names, addresses and salaries of its 900 employees.

Another commission, that set up to regulate the communications industries, is at present undergoing the indignity of having its house cleaned by an outsider from another commission. So impregnated had it become with politics and favoritism that Congress, which thrives on patronage itself, had worked up to the point of ordering an official investigation.

Presently, in all likelihood, the President will be directed by Congress to name one more regulatory commission, the most potent of them all. It will be charged with responsibility of fixing hours and wages the country over, and will have the power to make or break an industry, or a whole section of the country, or communities, or even individuals within a community. We may be pardoned, we trust, the fervent prayer that the Wage and Hour Board shall not be of a piece with the Federal Communications Commission and the Bituminous Coal Commission.

License to Steal

North Carolina's Supreme Court last week handed down a pair of decisions that, according to stories coming out of Raleigh, have the lawyers of the State--unidentified--by the ears. One of them reversed the conviction of Earl Miller, a young Salisbury man, on charges of receiving stolen goods, on the ground that the judge advised the jury that it might convict if it "believed" the goods to be stolen, whereas the statute reads "knowing them to have been stolen." That, it's said, is going to make it practically impossible to convict on this charge.

The other decision is more interesting still. Under it a man named Whitehurst was freed of a conviction for having embezzled funds as receiver for a corporation, because "receivers" are not named in the embezzlement statute. But hold on here! Is that really a "license to receivers to steal," as the Raleigh stories have the lawyers believing? Surely there must be some other way to come at these men? For a moment, we thought of the common law, but alas, the common law, as we understand it, runneth in North Carolina only when and if it is embodied in a statute. But what about grand larceny? Or breach of trust? Will some lawyer who knows about these things step up and resolve our doubts?

Site Ed. Note: Incidentally, so that you do not run afoul of the law, and then try to suggest to the jury that it was, after all, Lewis Carroll who made you do it, North Carolina General Statutes, Chapter 14, section 71 today defines the Crime of receiving stolen goods as follows:

If any person shall receive any chattel, property, money, valuable security or other thing whatsoever, the stealing or taking whereof amounts to larceny or a felony, either at common law or by virtue of any statute made or hereafter to be made, such person knowing or having reasonable grounds to believe the same to have been feloniously stolen or taken, he shall be guilty of a Class H felony, and may be indicted and convicted, whether the felon stealing and taking such chattels, property, money, valuable security or other thing, shall or shall not have been previously convicted, or shall or shall not be amenable to justice; and any such receiver may be dealt with, indicted, tried and punished in any county in which he shall have, or shall have had, any such property in his possession or in any county in which the thief may be tried, in the same manner as such receiver may be dealt with, indicted, tried and punished in the county where he actually received such chattel, money, security, or other thing; and such receiver shall be punished as one convicted of larceny. (1797, c. 485, s. 2; R.C., c. 34, s. 56; Code, s. 1074; Rev., s. 3507; C.S., s. 4250; 1949, c. 145, s. 1; 1975, c. 163, s. 1; 1993, c. 539, s. 1164; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c).)

The similar crime of possesion of stolen property, codified as Chapter 14, section 71.1, removes simply the need to have the knowledge or reasonable belief at the same time of receipt, providing for acquiring that knowledge or reasonable belief after receipt, but still while in possession of the stolen goods. That statute provides as follows:

If any person shall possess any chattel, property, money, valuable security or other thing whatsoever, the stealing or taking whereof amounts to larceny or a felony, either at common law or by virtue of any statute made or hereafter to be made, such person knowing or having reasonable grounds to believe the same to have been feloniously stolen or taken, he shall be guilty of a Class H felony, and may be indicted and convicted, whether the felon stealing and taking such chattels, property, money, valuable security or other thing shall or shall not have been previously convicted, or shall or shall not be amenable to justice; and any such possessor may be dealt with, indicted, tried and punished in any county in which he shall have, or shall have had, any such property in his possession or in any county in which the thief may be tried, in the same manner as such possessor may be dealt with, indicted, tried and punished in the county where he actually possessed such chattel, money, security, or other thing; and such possessor shall be punished as one convicted of larceny. (1977, c. 978, s. 1; 1993, c. 539, s. 1165; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c).)

You will note that the statute provides for "reasonable belief", which is entirely consistent with what we said above. If you cannot understand that, our advice is not to buy or receive or keep the property in question.

And, sometimes, even the best of lawyers cannot save you from yourself. So, don't try the old, "Gee, I'm just a lay person, officer." Ignorance of the law, deliberately maintained or otherwise, as they say, is no excuse.

Also, even though the North Carolina statutes have not been systematically amended, the "he" is defined earlier somewhere to be "he or she", and, though you would have to think about it a little, "it", as an entity, as well.

A Far Piece, Anyhow

Mr. Anthony Eden, by way of expressing his ardency to fix up a trade treaty with Dr. Cordell Hull, said the other day that he'd "travel from Melbourne to Alaska" to get the thing done. Reading that, we jumped to the conclusion that it was the practical equivalent of our American idiom, "from hell to breakfast"--and that what it managed to say was that Mr. Eden was willing to go just about as far as non-Euclidean distances may be conceived to run. Wherefore, liking to prove ourselves right in such matters, we went charging off to the atlas--only to come upon a puzzler.

It's a long way, boys and girls, from Melbourne to Alaska, something like a hundred degrees of latitude with a considerable longitude thrown in besides, say 5,000 miles. But it's not the great distance the British Foreign Secretary might figuratively have traveled. He might have been willing to go all the way from New York to the Great Gobi, for example, or better still, from Cape Town to Alaska, for the distance from Melbourne to Alaska is not much more than two-thirds of the distance from Capetown. And if he had said he'd go from Capetown to Alaska by way of Old Cape Stiff--boy, would that have been a ringer!

Mr. Eden, we remember, is a public school man. And they still don't teach geography in the English public schools. And so maybe Mr. Eden just didn't know. Or is it, could it be, possible that Mr. Eden, no slouch in horse-trades, was gently telling our Cordell that he was willing to go far but not too durn far?

The Biggest Boon

An electrical company has figured out that the completely electrified rural home--air-conditioned, well-heated, with dishwasher, laundry, and electric pump for its water supply, etc.--would cost $30 a month to operate at rates prevailing in this territory. Most rural homes are not, of course, air-conditioned, except by holes in the roof in Summer time and a red hot stove in the Winter, and the average farm wife and mother is not such a lady that she can't soak her hands in dishwater without a grimace, or haul up the well bucket by rope or sweep without feeling herself a menial. Nevertheless, if she should demand that all these services and a dozen others be performed for her by the genii Electricity, her average monthly bill would come to but $30.

It's a striking and, let us say, pretty nearly truthful illustration of the magical cheapness of that indefinable, invisible, insubstantial nothingness, electricity. At one and the same time it's a tribute to the inventiveness of the American scientist and the industry of the American producer and salesman. But what, now, would the typical farm wife prefer to all these boons, which she probably couldn't afford anyhow, and what would she give the half of her smallest estate for? Why, a pretty, habitable, staunch house, the most of them would, such as they see when they ride into the city. And why can't she have it for something within her means, by the month? Why, because those means are small, for one thing, and for another because houses cost a great deal more than electricity--absolutely and relatively.

It's a great pity the American inventors and the American capitalists haven't gone in for housing.

Site Ed. Note: Oh, by the way, that Democrat's widow on the platform at Greensboro's War Memorial Coliseum, with whom Mr. Nixon was so proud to share hands, was that of Willis Smith, who had defeated Frank Porter Graham, you will recall, for the nomination for the open Senate seat in 1950, doing so by Red-baiting and raising the dread specter of integration under a Liberal such as Graham, who had been so Communistic as to want, as far back as 1938, to integrate the Pink University of North Carolina's law school, a Red Russian Communist stronghold known to be a place inspiring communal filth and Redness of the worst sort; his campaign chairman, who had schooled the Raleigh lawyer on how to beat Graham, went by the name Jesse.

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