Open main menu

Page:Harvard Law Review Volume 2.djvu/354

This page needs to be proofread.


3 36 ^^^ VA/fB LA W RE VIE W,

fore the stockholders, mortgagees, and Aose having contract rights against the corporation were still secured by its property, not being affected by the legislation of 1886, which was an **• undisguised attempt to take away . . . its property, and bestow the benefit thereof upon the municipality of New York," without due process of law.

(2.) Even if the Legislature should expressly reserve the power to take away or destroy the property of the corporation acquired under the authority of the charter, it is doubtful if an exercise of such power would be constitutional; but the State is clearly unable to take away or destroy the corporate property, where the same has been lawfully pledged or conveyed, as it was here. Further, it would seem that even the power reserved to the State to amend or repeal the charter is restricted, not giving the right to violate the contract at will, but merely the right to terminate the contract and to regulate, to a certain extent, the internal administration of the corporation. Anything further is repugnant to the contract itself.

It was also said that a statute in force at the time the charter was granted, pro- viding that the State, in altering or repealing the charter, should not impair any remedy for liabilities previously incurred, not only correctly formulates the law applicable to the case, but is part of the contract between the State and the cor- poration, and as such cannot be violated without coming within the prohibition of the Federal Constitution against impairing the obligation of contacts. People V. O'Brien^ 18 N. E. Rep. 692 (N. Y.).

It should be observed that the majority of the court were willing to dispose of the case on the ground that the suit was not properly brought, but expressed an opinion, as above, out uf deference to the minority.

Constitutional Law — Indictment for Infamous Offences. — A crime, the punishment of which is imprisonment in a State prison or penitentiary, although without hard labor, is an infamous crime within the meaning of the 5th Amend, to the U. S. Const.— Untied States v. De Walt^ 9 Sup. Ct Rep. III.

Constitutional Law — Pouce Power — Impairing Obligation of Con- tract. — Semble^ that a State statute requiring a reduction in the rates of street-railroad fares is an exercise of police power, and is not unconstitutional as impairing the obligation of a contract entered into between two street-railroad companies to carry passengers at a certain fixed rate. Buffalo East Side R, Co, V. Buffalo St, i?. Co., 19 N. E. Rep. 63 (N. Y.).

Contracts — Gross Inadequacy of Consideration — Conclusive Evi- dence OP Fraud. — When a consideration for a contract is grossly inadequate, equity will set aside the contract, upon the ground that such inadequacy is con- clusive evidence of fraud. Phillips v. PuUen, 16 Atl. Rep. 9 (N. J.).

Copyright -^ Reports of Decisions — Judges and Ofhcial Reporters. — Under Rev. St, U. S., §§ 4952 and 4954! a judge who, in his judicial capacity, prepares the head-notes, statements of cases, and opinions for the published re- ports^ cannot be regarded in such sense as their author or proprietor as either to take out a copyright thereupon, or to convey a copyright title by assignment to the State or to an individual. Banks v. Manchester, 9 Sup. Ct. Rep. 36.

But an official reporter, although a sworn public officer, receiving a fixed salary for his labors, can, in the absence of statute, take out a copyright on law reports published by him, which will cover all the parts of the book, such as statements of facts, head-notes, index, etc., which are not included in the written opinions of the court. Callahan v. Myers^ 9 Sup. Ct. Rep. 177.

Corporations — Liabiuty For Negligence. — The plaintiff was injured by the fall of seats erected in a negligent manner by a county agricultural society for the convenience of its patrons. Held, that the society was liable in its corporate capacity without special legislative enactment Corporations of the class usually called quasi-corporations, which are mere territorial or political divisions of the State, or invested with governmental functions, or those which are formed without the consent of the persons who constitute them, are "not liable to a private action in damages for negligence in the performance of their public duties, except when made as by legislative enactment; " but those entered into by the persons composing them, generally with the hope of profit, are liable. Dunn v. Brown Co, Agricultural Soc, 18 N. E. Rep. 496 (Ohio).

The dictum of the court with reference to the liability of quasi-corporations