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Commonwealth v. Ryan

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
155 Mass. 523 (1892)


Facts

Ryan (defendant) was an employee at Sullivan’s liquor store. Sullivan hired two detectives to go to the store to buy something with marked money. When the detective paid for the purchase, Ryan put the money in the cash register, but did not register the sale. Minutes later, Ryan took the money. Ryan was charged with embezzlement. The judge instructed the jury that, if Ryan had the intention to steal the money before he put it in the drawer and only put it there for safekeeping for himself, his taking of it afterward was not larceny. Ryan presented exceptions to the instructions, asking for a ruling that he was not guilty of embezzlement, but rather, if anything, of only larceny. Ryan’s argument was based on the premise that after he put the money into the drawer, it was in Sullivan’s possession, and Ryan’s removal of it was a trespass and, therefore, larceny.

Rule of Law

The rule of law is the black letter law upon which the court rested its decision.

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Issue

The issue section includes the dispositive legal issue in the case phrased as a question.

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Holding and Reasoning (Holmes, J.)

The holding and reasoning section includes:

  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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