THE Attorney-General stated this to be an indictment against Mr. John King, charging him with wilful and corrupt perjury, committed by him in an affidavit filed in the course of certain proceedings in the Court of Chancery, at his suit, against Mr. Charles Harrison. Mr. Harrison had obtained judgment against Mr. King for 1565l. in the court of King's Bench, on which Mr. King filed a Bill in Chancery, to restrain Mr. Harrison from any further proceedings at law; after a certain time, Mr. Harrison having failed to give in an answer to the Bill, Mr. King obtained an injunction on the 6th of April, which he served on Harrison on the 9th; being desirous of locking up Harrison, who it was not convenient for him should be abroad with judgment against him (Mr. K.) to the amount of 1500l.; and being aware that the only way in which he could accomplish this object was by swearing that the writ of fi. fa. was not issued till after the intimation of the Lord Chancellor's order of in junction or restraint from execution, &c. he, on the 18th of the same month, filed an affidavit, not to the best of his knowledge and belief, but to the absolute fact, consistent with his own knowledge, that the writ of fi. fa. in the case alluded to, had been sent out after the 9th of April, the date of the notice of the order, although, in fact, the writ had issued on the 4th of that month, before any application had been made to the Lord Chancellor.
In support of this case there were produced the order of the Lord Chancellor for the injunction, dated the 6th of April, the copy of service of that order on the 9th of April; the affidavit of the defendant in the terms charged in the indictment; and, in contradiction there to, an examined copy of the writ of fi. fa., with an indorsement bearing it to have been issued on the 4th of April.
Charles Harrison, the prosecutor in the indictment, also swore to his having indorsed it on the 4th of April, on which day he also sent it to the sheriff's office by George Smithson. Cross-examined by the Common Serjeant, the witness stated that he wished the execution to have been levied also on the 4th of April, if it could have been done; but it was not made till the 11th, at which time the injunction had issued, and had not been dissolved. G. Smithson said the writ of fi. fa. was put into his hands by Harrison, on the 4th of April, to give an officer to get executed. He had great difficulty, however, in finding an officer who would execute it. He did not leave the writ at the office, but carried it away with him, and returned it to Mr. Harrison's clerk. Cross-examined by Mr. Alley, admitting the writ of fi. fa. was not left at the sheriff's office, of course Mr. King could have no information concerning it if he had applied there. He knew from Harrison that he had not given it into the office till the 11th of April; therefore it was impossible for any human being to know till then that the writ had issued. Re-examined by the Attorney General, the witness said the date of the 4th of April, as being the date of issuing the writ, would also appear on the back of the warrant, so that any person, curious of satisfying himself on that head, might learn the fact by consulting either the writ or the warrant.
Mr. Common Serjeant, for the defendant, contended that a material averment was wanting in the indictment, namely, that the defendant knew what he had sworn to be false. It was obvious from the evidence of the prosecutor (Harrison) himself, that he had committed a contempt against the authority of the Court of Chancery, in levying on the goods of the defendant, after it consisted with the knowledge of Harrison, that an injunction, restraining him from any farther proceedings, had been issued. The defendant could not have been ignorant of this, and it was an outrage on common sense to suppose, that possessed of such knowledge, and having a well-founded ground of complaint against Harrison, for which he was liable to be committed for a contempt, the defendant should have selected the issuing out of the writ as the ground of his application, had he not relied on the information he had applied for and obtained, as to the period when that writ of fi. fa. was issued.
A witness, Smithson, swore the date of the writ of fi. fa. was indorsed on the warrant. This he should prove to be false, from production of the warrant itself. He should show also, that on application to the officer, he stated the 11th to be the date of issuing the writ, a fact which he would now certify to the jury on oath. The defendant, therefore, was in bona fide to swear what he had been informed, and he could have no reason to doubt was the fact.
Mr. Carter, from the sheriff's office, produced the warrant, dated 11th of April, in which there was no mention by indorsement, or otherwise, of the date of the 4th of that month.
James Hemp, the officer, stated, that Mr. King had made application to him, both personally and by a boy, desiring to know the date of the writ of fi. fa. which he had stated, as he believed it to be, the 11th of April, there being seldom any time allowed to lie over in the execution of such writs.
The Attorney-General was heard in reply. Lord Ellenborough, after recapitulating the evidence, observed that the question for the consideration of the jury, was, if he had been deceived by this information; or if he had contrived the information to warrant the application he meant to make to Chancery, and to be in store for him afterwards. If the jury believed, that after all due and proper means of information had been resorted to by the defendant, he had fallen into error, he was entitled to a verdict of acquittal. But if they were satisfied that he knew or had the means of knowing the fact, and wilfully shut his eyes against it, in that case he was criminally responsible, and was guilty of perjury.
The jury, after some hesitation, found the defendant Guilty.