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Law School Case Brief

Gray v. Martino - 91 N.J.L. 462, 103 A. 24 (1918)

Rule:

Public policy and sound morals alike forbid that a public officer should demand or receive for services performed by him in the discharge of official duty any other or further remuneration or reward than that prescribed or allowed by law.

Facts:

The special police officer and the owner entered into a verbal agreement whereby the owner agreed to pay the special police officer a reward if he procured for her the names and addresses of thieves who stole her property. The special police officer and other police authorities worked together and recovered the owner's property. The special police officer then brought an action against the owner to collect the reward. The trial court entered a judgment in favor of the special police officer, and the owner appealed.

Issue:

Was the police officer entitled to reward because he procured for the owner the names and addresses of thieves who stole the latter’s property?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The Court found that the special police officer was identified with the work of the prosecutor. According to the Court, the special police officer's position required him to assist in the prosecution of offenders against the law. The services the special police officer rendered were presumed to be rendered in pursuance of that public duty and for its performance he was not entitled to receive a special quid pro quo. Public policy and sound morals forbade the special police officer to demand or receive for services performed in the discharge of official duty any other or further remuneration or reward than that prescribed or allowed by law.

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