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COMMONWEALTH v. GIPE (11/15/51)

November 15, 1951

COMMONWEALTH
v.
GIPE



COUNSEL

Judson E. Ruch, York, Charles W. Eaby, Lancaster, for appellant.

John Milton Ranck, Dist. Atty., Lancaster, for appellee.

Before Rhodes, P. J., and Hirt, Reno, Dithrich, Ross and Arnold, JJ.

Author: Reno

[ 169 Pa. Super. Page 624]

RENO, Judge.

By separate bills, appellant was indicted for perjury and forgery. They were consolidated for trial and he was convicted on both charges. He was sentenced for perjury; sentence on the forgery conviction was suspended. He appealed both convictions.

The charges grew out of a civil action wherein Peirce-Phelps, Inc., sued Helen C. Richards, appellant's sister, whose electrical appliance business he managed, on a merchandise account for $497.97.*fn1 At the trial in Lancaster County on April 25, 1950, appellant was his sister's only witness. He admitted receiving the merchandise and produced a cancelled check dated June 15, 1949, payable to Peirce-Phelps for $746.53, signed by his sister. He testified this check was in payment of the three articles in question plus additional merchandise.

[ 169 Pa. Super. Page 625]

Under cross examination he stated he personally had prepared the check and that it had not been altered, erased or changed in any way or manner.

At the criminal trial the Commonwealth proved, by photostatic copies of the check as it passed through the Philadelphia clearing bank and the drawee bank in Columbia, Lancaster County, that the check was originally dated June 13, 1949; was in the amount of $250.01; that on its left side was a typed notation that it was in settlement of invoice No. 4996; and that the dollar line was blank. An official of the drawee bank testified that its records showed that H. C. Richards' account had not been debited with $746.53, but only for $250.01, on June 21, 1949. The check offered in evidence in both the civil and criminal trials clearly shows evidences of alterations of the date and the figure amount. The dollar line was subsequently filled in by a mechanical 'checkwriter', and the notation on the left side was altered to indicate payment of invoices Nos. 4880, 4996 and 5122. In the criminal trial, appellant admitted that the check showed signs of alterations, but denied that he made them.

I. A state police officer testified he went to appellant's office and, using the only typewriter there, typed the figures and words appearing on the check. They were offered in evidence for the purpose of permitting the jury to compare them with the check to determine whether both had been made by the same typewriter. The admission of this evidence is the basis for one of appellant's contentions here.

Comparisons of handwriting may be made by a jury. Travis v. Brown, 43 Pa. 9; Groff v. Groff, 209 Pa. 603, 59 A. 65; Seaman v. Husband, 256 Pa. 571, 100 A. 941. Expert testimony to authenticity is not necessary and the jury may, by comparison of writings, decide whether the authenticated ...


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