IN RE ROBINSON
connection. The wide scope given to the statutes making false pre-
tenses criminal led in many states to legislation providing that false
pretenses as to the purchaser's means or ability to pay should not be
criminally actionable unless made in writing; e. g., Rev. Laws Mass.
c. 208, " 28. Undoubtedly these statutes were known to the lawyers
in Congress. The proceedings in Congress show that its attention
was directed chiefly to commercial reports, or formal statements of
financial condition, but the language used was not limited to them,
as it easily might have been, if that had been the intention. The prin-
ciple being adopted, that to obtain property on credit upon a mate-
rially false statement in writing should bar discharge, I see no suffi-
cient reason why the natural meaning of the language in the act should
be cut down, so as to include only statements made in a particular
form, or purporting to have a certain scope. Assuming (although with-
out so deciding) that the statement must be one relating directly to
means or ability to pay, it seems to me that statements of that sort in
whatever form, and however framed, come within section 14b (3).
By the law of Massachusetts a check delivered by the drawer to
another person in payment for property or credit is a statement that
there are funds on deposit to the drawer's credit, and the check will
be paid. "If the drawer passes a check to a third person, the language
of the act is, 'It is good and will be duly honored.' * * * In such
case, if he knew that he had neither funds nor credit, it would prob-
ably be holden to be a false pretense." Morton, J., Commonwealth
v. Drew, 19 Pick. (Mass.) 179, 186. And such appears to be the
general law. Merchants' Bank v. State Bank, 10 Wall. 647, 19 L.
Ed. 1008; 12 Ency. of Law (2d Ed.) 838. To obtain property by a
worthless check is to obtain it, in my opinion, by means of a materi-
ally false statement in writing, within the meaning of the Bankruptcy
There remains the question whether the bankrupt "obtained money
or property on credit." If not, he is entitled to his discharge, not-
withstanding that he may have made a false statement within the mean-
ing of the section under discussion. The testimony on this point is
meagre. All that appears is that Williston & Co. got the check and
passed it to the bankrupt's account. It was dishonored the next day
and presumably was immediately charged back to him. There is no
testimony that he obtained any money or property by it. The most
that counsel for the objecting creditors assert is that Williston & Co.
did not close out the commodities or securities which they were car-
rying for the bankrupt, as they would have done, but for the check.
Even of this there is no clear evidence. The burden is upon the ob-
jecting creditors to establish their objection; and that they have not
done. The result is that this specification of objection also fails and
the discharge should be granted.
The Federal Reporter with Key-Number Annotations, Volume 256: Cases Argued and Determined in the Circuit Courts of Appeals and District Courts of the United States, May-July, 1919.. Saint Paul, Minnesota. UNT Digital Library. http://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc38827/. Accessed May 24, 2013.