PHL271 Study Notes Test 1.docx

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David Dyzenhaus

PHL271 24 Sept 2011 Reading 1 Notes Riggs v Palmer Riggs v Palmer 1889 Question the relation between moral principles and statutory interpretationRight for an heir to inherit from the grandfather he murdered Majority Earl Dissenting GrayLaws of NY will not be construed so as to secure the benefit of a will to a legatee who has killed the testator in order to prevent a revocation of the will FACTS Francis Palmer made his will left small legacies to his two daughters and the remainder to his grandson Elmer subject to support his mother Susan in case she should outlive Francis Francis entered into an antinuptial agreement with new wife Bresee and included her so that she would receive support if she outlived him Elmer poisoned his grandfather because he knew Francis was going to change the will and so did so to ensure his portionDEFENCE The testator has died and had made his will when he was alive It has been admitted to validation and therefore must have effect according to the law Statutes regulating wills without modification or control deem the murderer to be given his profitsMAJORITY if some absurd unforeseen consequence arises in the construction of statutes they are with regard to those consequences void judges are at liberty to expound the statute and only to that extent disregard it the law was not written with the intention that people would murder the testators of wills for quick profit no one shall be permitted to profit by his own fraud or to take advantage of his own wrong etcthese laws have not been suspended by statutes anywhere there was no guarantee that the murderer would naturally benefit from the will he could have died before the testator or removed from the inheritance he made himself an heir through murder he caused the will to operate by killing the testator but it should not speak in the murderers favour to allow the murderer to profit from his crime is a reproach to the jurisprudence of the state and an offence against public policy he unlawfully prevented a revocation of the will or of a new will from being made by his crime DISSENTING the matter does not lie within the domain of conscience bound by rigid rules of law established by legislatureQuestion whether a testamentary disposition can be altered or a will revoked after the testators death through an appeal to the courts when the legislature has by its enactments prescribed exactly when and how wills may be made altered and revoked the law has no room for jurisdiction by courts to alter itindividual has the right to dispose of his property after death as he wills the rules imposed upon the disposition of ones property have strict and systematic statutory rules for execution alteration and revocation which must be substantially if not exactly followed to insure validity and performance the legislature has assumed entire control over matters of wills and to regulate them particularlythere is an absence of rules in the law to allow an issue of morality to disturb the process of inheritance rules of law which annul testamentary provisions made for the benefit of those who have become unworthy of them may be based on principles of equity and of natural justice the statutes have prescribed various ways in which a will may be altered or revoked and it defines these modes as the only way that these events are legally allowed to occur and these rules do not involve morality a valid will must continue as a will always unless revoked in the manner provided by the statutes
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