infamy


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Infamy

Notoriety; condition of being known as possessing a shameful or disgraceful reputation; loss of character or good reputation.

At Common Law, infamy was an individual's legal status that resulted from having been convicted of a particularly reprehensible crime, rendering him or her incompetent as a witness at a trial. Infamy, by statute in certain jurisdictions, produces other legal disabilities and is sometimes described as civil death.

infamy

noun abasement, aspersion, bad name, bad reputation, baseness, blot, brand, contempt, defamation, degradation, derision, detestableness, disapprobation, discredit, disesteem, disfavor, disgrace, dishonor, disrepute, disrespect, evil fame, humiliation, ignobility, ignominiousness, ignominy, ill repute, infamia, ingloriousness, loss of reputation, notoriety, obloquy, odium, opprobrium, probrum, public reproach, scandal, scorn, shame, stain, stigma, taint, tarnish
Associated concepts: infamous acts, infamous crime, infaaous offense, infamous punishment, infamy from conviccion of a crime
Foreign phrases: Quae sunt minoris culpae sunt majoris infamiae.Those things which are less culpable may be more infamous.
See also: atrocity, attaint, bad character, bad repute, contempt, defamation, discredit, disdain, disgrace, dishonor, disrepute, ignominy, notoriety, obloquy, odium, onus, opprobrium, scandal, shame, stigma, turpitude, vice

INFAMY, crim. law, evidence. That state which is produced by the conviction of crime and the loss of honor, which renders the infamous person incompetent as a witness.
     2. It is to be considered, 1st. What crimes or punishment incapacitate a witness. 2d. How the guilt is to be proved. 3d. How the objection answered. 4th. The effect of infamy.
     3.-1. When a man is convicted of an offence which is inconsistent with the common principles of honesty and humanity, the law considers his oath to be of no weight, and excludes his testimony as of too doubtful and suspicious a nature to be admitted in a court of justice to deprive another of life, liberty or property. Gilb. L. E. 256; 2 Bulst. 154; 1 Phil. 23; Bull. N. P. 291. The crimes which render a person incompetent, are treason; 5 Mod. 16, 74; felony; 2 Bulst. 154; Co. Litt. 6; T. Raym. 369; all offences founded in fraud, and which come within the general. notion of the crimen falsi of the Roman law; Leach, 496; as perjury and forgery; Co. Litt. 6; Fort. 209; piracy 2 Roll. Ab. 886; swindling, cheating; Fort. 209; barratry; 2 Salk. 690; and the bribing a witness to absent himself from a trial, in order to get rid of his evidence. Fort. 208. It is the crime and not the punishment which renders the offender unworthy of belief. 1 Phill. Ev. 25.
     4.-2. In order to incapacitate the party, the judgment must be proved as pronounced by a court possessing competent jurisdiction. 1 Sid. 51; 2 Stark. C. 183; Stark. Ev. part 2, p. 144, note 1; Id. part 4, p. 716. But it has been held that a conviction of an infamous crime in another country, or another of the United States, does not render the witness incompetent on the ground of infamy. 17 Mass. 515. Though this doctrine appears to be at variance with the opinions entertained by foreign jurists, who maintain that the state or condition of a person in the place of his domicil accompanies him everywhere. Story, Confl. Sec. 620, and the authorities there cited; Foelix, Traite De Droit Intern. Prive, 31; Merl. Repert, mot Loi, Sec. 6, n. 6.
     5.-3. The objection to competency may be answered, 1st. By proof of pardon. See Pardon. And, 2d. By proof of a reversal by writ of error, which must be proved by the production of the record.
     6.-4. The judgment for an infamous crime, even for perjury, does not preclude the party from making an affidavit with a view to his own defence. 2 Salk. 461 2 Str. 1148; Martin's Rep. 45. He may, for instance, make an affidavit in relation to the irregularity of a judgment in a cause in which he, is a party, for otherwise he would be without a remedy. But the rule is confined to defence, and he cannot be heard upon oath as complainant. 2 Salk. 461 2 Str. 1148. When the witness becomes incompetent from infamy of character, the effect is the same as if he were dead and if he has attested any instrument as a witness, previous to his conviction, evidence may be given of his handwriting. 2 Str. 833; Stark. Ev. part. 2, sect. 193; Id. part 4, p. 723.
     7. By infamy is also understood the expressed opinion of men generally as to the vices of another. Wolff, Dr. de la Nat. et des Gens, Sec. 148.

References in classic literature ?
Have you seen that awful den of hellish infamy, with the very moonlight alive with grisly shapes, and ever speck of dust that whirls in the wind a devouring monster in embryo?
Only," replied Treville, "it is a sad thing that in the unfortunate times in which we live, the purest life, the most incontestable virtue, cannot exempt a man from infamy and persecution.
Consider the infamy of what these suitors are doing; see how they are wasting the estate, and doing dishonour to the wife, of one who is certain to return some day, and that, too, not long hence.
Be that as it may, she saw him go with regret; and in this early example of what Lydia's infamy must produce, found additional anguish as she reflected on that wretched business.
Sporting with her infamy, the lost and desperate creature had embroidered the fatal token in scarlet cloth, with golden thread and the nicest art of needlework; so that the capital A might have been thought to mean Admirable, or anything rather than Adulteress.
With respect to any connection between a man and a woman, or a woman and a man, when either of the parties are betrothed, let it be held in utter detestation [1336a] on any pretext whatsoever; but should any one be guilty of such a thing after the marriage is consummated, let his infamy be as great as his guilt deserves.
Let them come and take the money, and he would know then to what depths of infamy it was possible for men to descend.
I should like to enjoy myself thoroughly, and coquet with all the world, till I am on the verge of being called an old maid; and then, to escape the infamy of that, after having made ten thousand conquests, to break all their hearts save one, by marrying some high-born, rich, indulgent husband, whom, on the other hand, fifty ladies were dying to have.
But he, who for the first time was becoming conscious of himself, was in no condition to judge, and he burned with shame as he stared at the vision of his infamy.
Of what infamy, on their parts, did his beloved and stainless memory remind them?
He was capable of exposing the rival whom he hated to the infamy and torture of a public accusation of murder; but, in the event of an adverse verdict, he shrank before the direr cruelty of letting him be hanged.
Let him be the best of men, and let him be thought the worst; then he will have been put to the proof; and we shall see whether he will be affected by the fear of infamy and its consequences.