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Indorsement Indorsee

infamia, witness, rights, punishment, perjury and offences

INDORSEE, INDORSEMENT, IN DORSER. [ExcHANcE, BILL oz.] INDUCTION. [BENEFICE, p. 340.] INFAMY (from the Roman infamia) in English law is not easily defined. Certain offences were formerly con sidered such that conviction and judg ment for such offences rendered a man infamous'and incompetent to be a witness. But the endurance of the punishment, pardon, or reversal of the judgment, re stored a man's competency as a witness. The 9 Geo. IV. c. 23, § 3, enacts, that when a man convicted of a felony shall have undergone the legal punishment for it, the effect shall be the same as a pardon under the Great Seal ; and (§ 4) no mis demeanour, except perjury or suborna tion of perjury, shall render a man an in competent witness after he has under gone his punishment. The 6 & 7 Viet c. 85, enacts that no man shall be ex cluded from giving evidence, though he may have been convicted of any crime or offence. [EVIDENCE, p. 860.] Certain offences enumerated in the 7 & 8 Geo. IV. c. 29, § 9, are infamous crimes, with reference to the provisions of that act. Though infamy does not disqualify a man from being a witness, it may be urged as an argument against his credibility.

The only satisfactory definition of in famy would be a permanent legal inca pacity to which a man is subjected in con sequence of a conviction and judgment for an offence, and which is not removed by suffering the punishment for the offence. By 2 Geo. II. c. 24, § 6, persons who are legally convicted of perjury or suborna tion of perjury, or of taking and asking any bribe, are for ever incapacitated from voting at the elections of members of parliament. They are therefore infs.. mous ; they labour under infamy : and have lost part of their political rights.

The Roman term infamia is the origin of our term infamy. Infamia followed in some cases upon condemnation for cer tain offences in a judicium publicum ; and in other cases it was a direct conse quence of an act, as soon as such act be came notorious. Among the cases in

which infamia followed upon condemna tion were, insolvency, when a man's goods were taken possession of by his creditors in legal form and sold ; the actio furti, and vi bonorum raptorum ; actio fiduciae, pro socio, tutelae, &c. In all these cases a judicial sentence, or something analo gous to it, was necessary, before infamia could attach to a person. Among the cases in which infamia followed as an im mediate consequence of acts which were notorious are the following : the case of a woman caught in adultery, of a man being at the same time in the relation of a double marriage, of prostitution in the case of a woman, or when a man or woman gained a living by aiding in pro stitution. The consequence of infamia was incapacity to obtain the honours of the state, and probably the loss of the suffrage also ; and it was perpetual. The infamis was still a citizen (civis), but he had lost his political rights. The infamous man was also under some disabilities as to his so-called private rights. He was limited by the Praetor's edict in his capacity to postulate (that is, take the initial mea sures for asserting or defending his rights in legal form), to act as the attorney of another in such cases, to be a witness, and to contract marriage.

The rules of Roman law as to infamia are chiefly contained in the Digest, iii tit. 1 and 2. (See Savigny, System des heut. Rom. Rechts, ii. § Becker, Handbuch der R6m. Alterthiimer, ii. 121 ; Puchta, Institutionen, ii. 441.)