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里格斯诉帕尔默案判决书(1)

(2007-12-06 19:42:27)
标签:

文学/原创

分类: 法律案例
 

RIGGS V. PALMER Court of Appeals of New York, 1889

里格斯诉帕尔默案,纽约上诉法院,1889年。

       Rights of Legatees-Murder of Testator

杀害遗嘱人的继承人有无继承权问题。

       The law of New York relating to the probate of wills and the distributions of estates 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. GRAY and DANFORTH, JJ., dissenting.

纽约州关于遗嘱检验和分割遗产的法律,不能被解释成继承人为阻止遗嘱人撤销遗嘱,可以通过杀害遗嘱人的方式来获得遗嘱利益。——格雷和丹佛斯法官,有不同意见。

         Appeal from supreme court, general term, third department.

上诉来自纽约州最高法院,普通审期,第三法庭。

        Leslie W Russell, for appellants. W. M.Hawkins for respondents.

莱斯里 ·W·茹塞尔为上诉人辩护;W·M·豪肯斯为被上诉人辩护。

        EARL,J. on the 13th day of August 1880, Francis B. Palmer made his last will and testament, in which he gave small legacies to his two daughters, Mrs. Riggs and Mrs. Preston, the plaintiffs in this action, and the remainder of his estate to his grandson, the defendant Elmer E. Palmer, subject to the support of Susan Palmer, his mother, with a gift over to the two daughters, subject to the support of Mrs. Palmer in case Elmer should survive him and die under age, unmarried, and without any issue. The testator, at the date of his will, owned a farm, and considerable personal property. He was a widower, and thereafter, in March, 1882, he was married to Mrs. Bresee, with whom, before his marriage, he entered into an antenuptial contract, in which it was agreed that in lieu of dower and all other claims upon his estate in case she survived him she should have her support upon his farm during her life, and such support was expressly charged upon the farm. At the date of the will, and subsequently to the death of the testator, Elmer lived with him as a member of his family, and at his death was 16 years old. He knew of the provisions made in his favor in the will, and, that he might prevent his grandfather from revoking such provisions, which he had manifested some intention to do, and to obtain the speedy enjoyment and immediate possession of his property, he willfully murdered him by poisoning him. He now claims the property, and the sole question for our determination is, can he have it?

    厄尔法官:1880年8月13日,富朗西斯·帕尔默立下一份遗嘱,遗嘱约定他的两个女儿——里格斯和普瑞斯顿,即该案的原告,只能继承其遗产中很少的一部分;剩余大部分遗产由其孙子——即该案的被告埃尔默·帕尔默继承,他的天赋超过两个女儿,被告埃尔默·帕尔默由其母亲苏珊·帕尔默抚养。但如果被告埃尔默·帕尔默比祖父富朗西斯·帕尔默活得长,而在未成年时死去且未结婚,又不存在其它争议的话,则遗产归帕尔默夫人所有。富朗西斯·帕尔默在立遗嘱时,拥有一座农场和一笔可观的个人财产,他曾是一个鳏夫,在1882年3月与伯瑞斯夫人结婚,婚前签署了一份协议,约定一旦伯瑞斯夫人后于富朗西斯·帕尔默去世,则由伯瑞斯夫人照管农场、管理财产直至去世。被告埃尔默自订立遗嘱时起,一直作为家庭中的一员与富朗西斯·帕尔默一家生活在一起,直至其祖父去世,时年埃尔默16岁。被告埃尔默知道遗嘱的内容,推测祖父有可能改变遗嘱,且有迹象表明祖父也试图改变遗嘱,为了阻止祖父改变遗嘱,尽快获得遗产,埃尔默毒死了祖父。现被告埃尔默主张获得遗产,我们需要明确的唯一问题是——他能获得遗产吗?

The defendants say that the testator is dead; that his will was made in due form, and has been admitted to probate; and that therefore it must have effect acording to the letter of the law. It is quite true that statutes regulating the making, proof, and effect of wills and the devolution of property, if literally construed, and if their force and effect can in no way and under no circumstances be controlled or modified, give this property to the murderer. The purpose of those statutes was to enable testators to dispose of their estates to the objects of their county at death, and to carry into effect their final wishes legally ex pressed; and in considering and giving effect to them this purpose must be kept in view. It was the intention of the law-makers that the donees in a will should have the property given to them. But it never could have been their intention that a donee who murdered the testator to make the will operative should have any benefit under it. If such a case had been present to their minds, and it had been supposed necessary to make some provision of law to meet it, it cannot be doubted that they would have provided for it. It is a familiar canon of construction that a thing which is within the intention of the makers of a statute is as much within the statute as if it were within the letter; and a thing which is within the letter of the statute is not within the statute unless it be within the intention of the makers. The writers of laws do not always express their intention perfectly, but either exceed it or fall short of it, so that judges are to collect it from probable or rational conjectures only, and this is called "rational interpretation"; and Rutherford, in his Institutes, (page 420) says: "Where we make use of rational interpretation, sometimes we restrain the meaning of the writer so as to take in less, and some times we extend or enlarge his meaning so as to take in more, than his words express." Such a construction ought to be put upon a statute as will best answer the intention which the makers had in view.... Many cases are mentioned where it was held that matters embraced in the general words of statutes nevertheless were not within the statutes, because it could not have been the intention of the law-makers that they should be included. They were taken out of the statutes by an equitable construction; and it is said in Bacon: "By an equitable construction a case not within the letter of a statute is sometimes holden to be within the meaning, because it is within the mischief for which a remedy is provided. The reason for such construction is that the law-makers could not set down every case in express terms. In order to form a right judgment whether a case be within the equity of a statute, it is a good way to suppose the law-maker present, and that you have asked him this question: Did you intend to comprehend this case? Then you must give yourself such answer as you imagine he, being an upright and reasonable man, would have given. If this be that he did mean to comprehend it, you may safely hold the case to be within the equity of the statute; for while you do no more than he would have done, you do not act contrary to the statute, hut in conformity thereto." 9 Bac. Abr. 248. In some cases the letter of a legislative act is restrained by an equitable construction; in others, it is enlarged; in others, the construction is contrary to the letter.... If the law makers could, as to this case, be consulted, would they say that they intended by their general language that the property of a testator or of an ancestor should pass to one who had taken his life for the express purpose of getting his property? In 1 Bl Comm. 91, the learned author, speaking of the construction of statutes, says: ' If there arise out of them collaterally any absurd consequences manifestly contradictory to common reason, they are with regard to those collateral consequences void. Where some collateral matter arises out of the general words, and happens to be unreasonable, there the judges are in decency to conclude that this consequence was not foreseen by the parliament, and therefore they are at liberty to ex pound the statute by equity, and only quoad hoc disregard it;" and he gives as an illustration, if an act of parliament gives a man power to try all causes that arise within his manor of Dale, yet, if a cause should arise in which he himself is party, the act is construed not to extend to that, because it is unreasonable that any man should determine his own quarrel. There was a statute in Bologna that whoever drew blood in the streets should be severely punished, and yet it was held not to apply to the case of a barber who opened a vein in the street. It is commanded in the decalogue that no work shall be done upon the Sabbath, and yet giving the command a rational interpretation founded upon its design the Infallible Judge held that it did not prohibit works of necessity, charity, or benevolence on that day.

被告辩称,遗嘱人所立遗嘱形式合法且经过遗嘱检验,现遗嘱人已经去世,根据法律规定遗嘱应当得到执行。依据文义解释,在没有外力影响和左右的情况下,如果事态按其自然进程发展,不被控制也没有改变,那么,根据调整遗嘱订立、检验、效力以及财产转移等遗嘱法的规定,把遗产转给谋杀者,这是千真万确的。制定遗嘱法就是为了让遗嘱人能够处置其去世时依各州规定可继承的遗产,也是为了让遗嘱人最后合法表达出的意愿产生实际效果,在考虑和判定遗嘱效力时,这些立法目的必须被考量。立法者的目的就是让遗嘱受赠人获得其应该继承的遗产。但受赠人为使遗嘱生效而谋杀遗嘱人,从中获取遗嘱利益,这决不会是立法者的目的。立法者如果能想到这种情况,并认为有必要制定相应的法律规定,那么立法者会毫不犹豫地作出规定。一般说来,立法者的目的就是法律条文字面所表达出的目的;但除非把立法者的目的严格限定于法律条文之内,法律条文所能表达出的目的不限于法律条文本身,这是人们所熟知的一个解释原则。立法者并不总能精确地表达他们的目的,而是有时会超出,有时又受到限制,为此,就需要法官从可能或合理的推断中修正立法者的目的,这被称为“合理性解释”。卢瑟福在其法学著作中曾说(420页),“当我们运用合理性解释时,我们有时会为限制作者的意义表达而对文本作限制解释,有时会为扩展或增加作者的意义表达而对文本作扩张解释。”所以,对制定法的解释应致力于有根据地探寻立法者的目的……很多这样的案例被提及,即虽然事项被包括在法律字面的通常意义之内,但由于不可能是立法者的目的,从而被衡平解释拒之制定法之外。正如培根所言,“通过衡平解释,一个不包括在制定法字面含义之内的情形有时可能被认定包括在制定法之内,比如为损害提供救济就在制定法之内。这种解释的根据在于,立法者不可能用明确的语言为每个案件立法。为了正确判定当下案件是否在制定法规定之内,你可以假定立法者在场,并向他提出如下问题:你打算怎样理解这一案件?然后站在正直的、理性人的角度给出你自己的答案,这是一个好的方法。如果你感到立法者会包括在内,你就可以确信该案包括在制定法之内,因为你所作的也就是立法者所作的,你没有违反制定法,而是遵循了制定法。根据衡平解释,制定法的字面含义在某些案件中会受到限制;在另外一些案件中可能会扩张,甚至作出相反地解释……就该案而言,如果咨询立法者,根据语言的通常意义,他们会说遗嘱人或被继承人的财产应该转移给为获得遗产而杀害遗嘱人或被继承人的人的手中吗?布莱克斯通在讲到制定法解释时说,“如果制定法解释产生了与普通理性相悖的荒谬结论,我们必须考虑这些结论的无效性。如果有些结论溢出语言的通常意义,且是不合理的,那么,法官可以合情理地得出该结论不是议会所预见的,因此,法官享有事后衡平解释制定法的自由,甚至就此而言,法官可以无视制定法”。布莱克斯通举例作了说明:如果议会法案授予法官可以审理发生在其管辖范围内的所有案件,但其中一个案件法官就是案件一方当事人的话,那么法官就不能对法案作扩张解释,因为任何人都不能作自己案件的法官。还有波罗格纳有一部法案,任何人在大街上流血都将受到严惩,但法案不适用于理发师在大街上割破血管。《圣经》十戒规定安息日不能工作,但万能的法官给出了合理的解释,坚持认为,这一天那些必需的、乐善好施的工作不在禁止之列。

What could be more unreasonable than to suppose that it was the legislative intention in the general laws passed for the orderly peaceable, and just devolution of property that they should have operation in favor of one Who murdered his ancestor that he might speedily come into the possession of his estate? Such an intention is inconceivable. We need not, therefore, be much troubled by the general language contained in the laws. Besides, all laws, as well as all contracts, may  be controlled in their operation and effect by general fundamental maxims of the common law. No one shall be permitted to profit by his own fraud, or to take advantage of his own wrong, or to found any claim upon his own iniquity, or to acquire property by his own crime. These maxims are dictated by public policy, have their foundation in universal law administered in all civilized countries, and have nowhere been superseded by statutes. They were applied in the decision of the case of Insurance Co. v. Armstrong, 117 U. S. 599, 6 Sup. Ct. Rep. 877. There it was held that the person who procured a policy upon the life of another, payable at his death, and then murdered the assured to make the policy payable, could not recover thereon. Mr. Justice FIELD, writing the opinion, said: "Independently of any proof of the motives of Hunter in obtaining the policy, and even assuming that they were just and proper, he forfeited all rights under it when, to secure its immediate payment, he murdered the assured. It would be a reproach to the jurisprudence of the country if one could recover insurance money payable on the death of a party whose life he had feloniously taken. As well might he recover insurance money upon a building that he had willfully fired." These maxims, without any statute giving them force or operation, frequently control the effect and nullify the language of wills. A will procured by fraud and deception, like any other instrument, may he de creed void, and set aside; and so a particular portion of a will may be excluded from probate, or held in operative, if induced by the fraud or undue influence of the person in whose favor it is.... So a will may contain provisions which are immoral, irreligious, or against public policy, and they will be held void.

立法者为和平、秩序和公正地转移财产而制定的普遍法律,如果产生赞同或支持人们为快速占有遗产而杀害被继承人的结果,并将其视为立法者目的,没有比这更为不合理的了,这样的立法目的是不可思议的。因此,我们不能被法律中的一般性语言所困扰。另外,所有法律和合同在其执行和效果上都会受普通法所确立的普遍基本原则的规制。诸如任何人都不能通过欺诈行为而获利,不得通过自己的错误行为而获利,不得依据自己的不义行为主张权利,更不得通过犯罪行为而获得财产等,这些原则由公共政策所支配,在所有文明国家普遍性的法律中都有其基础,即使是制定法也不能超越它们。在“保险公司诉阿姆斯特朗”案中这些原则得到体现。该案中投保人为他人(被保险人)订立了一份死亡保险合同,约定在被保险人死亡时投保人为保险金受益人,投保人为获得保险金而谋杀了被保险人,则投保人不能获得保险金。菲尔德大法官在其撰写的法律意见中说,“无需探寻和证明亨特在订立保险合同时的动机,即使假定其动机是正当和恰当的,但当他为立即获取保险金而谋杀被保险人时,他就丧失了保险合同下的所有权利。如果投保人能够通过杀害被保险人的犯罪行为而获得保险金的话,那么他同样能够通过蓄意烧毁一幢建筑而获得保险金,这将是一个国家法学的耻辱。”这些原则无需制定法赋予其效力或执行力,却能常常规制遗嘱的有效与无效。通过欺诈、诈骗订立的遗嘱,同其他法律文书一样,可以被宣告无效或撤销。如果欺诈或不正当地对遗嘱人施加影响,那么遗嘱的某些内容可能被排除在认证之外或仅是部分地得到执行……所以,遗嘱可能包含不道德、违反宗教或公共政策的内容,这些内容将被判决无效。

Here there was no certainty that this murderer would survive the testator, or that the testator would not change his will, and there was no certainty that he would get this property if nature was allowed to take its course. He therefore murdered the testator expressly to vest himself with an estate. Under such circumstances what law, human or divine, will allow him to take the estate and enjoy the fruits of his crime? The will spoke and became operative at the death of the testator. He caused that death, and thus by his crime made it speak and have operation. Shall it speak and operate in his favor? If he had met the testator, and taken his property by force, he would have had no title to it. Shall he acquire title by murdering him? If he had gone to the testator's house, and by force compelled him, or by fraud or undue influence had induced him, to will him his property, the law would not allow him to hold it. But can he give effect and operation to a will by murder, and yet take the property? To answer these questions in the affirmative it seems to me would be a reproach to the jurisprudence of our state, and an offense against public policy. Under the civil law, evolved from the general principles of natural law and justice by many generations of juris consults, philosophers, and statesmen, one cannot take property by inheritance or will from an ancestor or benefactor whom he has murdered.... In the Civil Code of Lower Canada the provisions on the subject in the Code Napoleon have been substantially copied. But, so far as I can find, in no country where the common law prevails has it been deemed important to enact a law to provide for such a case. Our revisers and law-makers were familiar with the civil law, and they did not deem it important to incorporate into our statutes its provisions upon this subject. This is not a casus omissus. It was evidently supposed that the maxims of the common law were sufficient to regulate such a case, and that a specific enactment for that purpose was not needed. For the same reasons the defendant Palmer cannot take any of this property as heir. Just before the murder he was not an heir, and it was not certain that he ever would be. He might have died before his grandfather, or might have been disinherited by him. He made himself an heir by the murder, and he seeks to take property as the fruit of his crime. What has before been said to him as legatee applies to him with equal force as an heir. He cannot vest himself with title by crime. My view of this case does not inflict upon Elmer any greater or other punishment for his crime than the law specifies. It takes from him no property, but simply holds that he shall not acquire property by his crime, and thus be rewarded for its commission.

不能确定谋杀者活得比遗嘱人长,也不能确定遗嘱人不改变遗嘱,同样不能确定,即使事态按照其自然进程发展,谋杀者一定会获得遗产。而谋杀者谋杀遗嘱人,显然是为了获得遗产,在这种情形下,会有法律、人或神灵允许谋杀者获得遗产,享受其犯罪成果吗?遗嘱在遗嘱人死亡时宣读并生效。谋杀者导致了遗嘱人死亡,谋杀者因其犯罪行为而使遗嘱被宣读并生效,遗嘱能够如其所愿地被宣读和生效吗?如果谋杀者与立遗嘱人相见并用暴力夺取其财产,则谋杀者没有权利获得该财产,那么,他能通过谋杀行为来获得该权利吗?如果他闯入遗嘱人住宅,并以暴力胁迫遗嘱人,或者通过欺诈、不正当影响诱导遗嘱人,法律也不会认可、支持他。法律怎么会支持谋杀者通过谋杀行为而使遗嘱生效并获得遗产呢?在我看来,对这些问题给出肯定的回答将是我国法学的耻辱,也违背公共政策。由许多法学家、哲学家和政治家所阐述的正义与自然法的一般原则发展而来的民法认为,一个人不能因其谋杀行为而从被继承人或遗嘱人那里获得遗产,加拿大下议院制定的民法典就照搬了拿破仑法典的该项规定。但据我所知,没有一个普通法居于支配地位的国家认为制定法对此作出规定是重要的。立法者和修改者对民法是熟悉的,他们也不认为把该事项写进制定法是重要的,这并不是偶然的疏忽,而是因为人们认为普通法的法律原则足以调整这类案件,没有必要对此作出规定。同理,被告帕尔默不能作为继承人获得遗产,在谋杀之前,他不是继承人,他能否成为继承人也是不确定的。他可能死于祖父之前,也可能被祖父剥夺继承权。他通过谋杀使自己成为继承人,并想通过占有犯罪成果而获得遗产。前面提到的对继承人有效的法律原则同样适用于受赠人,他不能通过犯罪行为而获得遗产。在我看来,这样判决没有给埃尔默的犯罪行为施加比法律规定更多的或额外的惩罚,判决没有剥夺他的任何财产,而只是判定他不能通过犯罪行为而获得财产,这是他因其犯罪行为应得的报应。

Our attention is called to Owens v. Owens, 100 N. C. 240, 6 S. E. Rep. 794, as a case quite like this. There a wife had been convicted of being an accessory before the fact to the murder of her husband, and it was held that she was nevertheless entitled to dower. I am unwilling to assent to the doctrine of that case. The statutes provide dower for a wife who has the misfortune to survive her husband, and thus lose his support and protection. It is clear beyond their purpose to make provision for a wife who by her own crime makes herself a widow, and willfully and intentionally deprives herself of the support and protection of her husband. As she might have died before him, and thus never have been his widow, she cannot by her crime vest herself with an estate. The principle which lies at the bottom of the maxim volenti non fit injuria should be applied to such a case, and a widow should not, for the purpose of acquiring, as such, property rights, be permitted to allege a widowhood which she has wickedly and intentionally created.

我们注意到欧文斯诉欧文斯一案与该案类似,妻子作为从犯因协助谋杀丈夫而犯罪,妻子不能因此而获得寡妇资格。我很不情愿地赞同该案所揭示出的法律原则。制定法规定妻子不幸失去丈夫,会失去支持和保护,法律因此赋予妻子以寡妇资格。但若妻子通过犯罪行为故意使自己失去丈夫的保护和支持,从而使自己成为寡妇,这明显不符合法律规定的目的。正如妻子可能死在丈夫之前,永远不会成为寡妇一样,妻子不能通过犯罪行为而获得利益。该案应该适用这项植根于“自愿招致损害者不得主张所受损害”(Volenti non fit injuria)的原则,妻子以获得财产权利为目的,出于邪恶用心并蓄意造就自己的寡妇资格,不得享有寡妇资格。

The facts found entitled the plaintiffs to the relief they sought. The error of the referee was in his conclusion of law. Instead of granting a new trial, therefore, I think the proper judgment upon the facts found should be ordered here. The facts have been passed upon twice with the same result,--first upon the trial of Palmer for murder, and then by the referee in this action. We are therefore of opinion that the ends of justice do not require that they should again come in question. The judgment of the general term and that entered upon the report of the referee should therefore be reversed, and judgment should be entered as follows: That Elmer E. Palmer and the administrator be enjoined from using any of the personalty or real estate left by the testator for Elmer's benefit; that the devise and bequest in the will to Elmer be declared ineffective to pass the title to him; that by reason of the crime of murder committed upon the grandfather he is deprived of any interest in the estate left by him; that the plaintiffs are the true owners of the real and personal estate left by the testator, subject to the charge in favor of Elmer's mother and the widow of the testator, under the antenuptial agreement, and that the plaintiffs have costs in all the courts against Elmer.

已发现的案件事实应当赋予两名原告获得救济的权利。原审法官的错误在于其法律结论。我个人认为,如果能够重新审理此案,正义的法官应当对已发现的案件事实进行梳理。两次判决所认定的案件事实是相同的——即第一次审判帕尔默认定的案件事实和此次审判认定的案件事实。我们坚持认为正义不能要求他们(犯罪嫌疑人)接受两次审判。原审普通法院的判决以及法官的审判报告应当被撤销,作出如下判决:埃尔默·帕尔默和遗产管理人不能动用遗嘱人为埃尔默遗赠的任何财产;遗嘱中赠与埃尔默的动产和不动产不发生有效转移;谋杀者埃尔默因其犯罪行为被剥夺获得遗产的权利;两名原告是遗嘱人动产和不动产的真正继承人,但应由埃尔默的母亲和遗嘱人的遗孀依据婚前协议来照管,埃尔默承担两原告支付的所有诉讼费。

All concur, except GRAY, J., who reads dissenting opinion, and DANFORTH, J., concurs.

除格雷法官提出不同的法律意见,丹佛斯法官支持该法律意见外,其余法官一致同意该判决。

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