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Central Law Journal
ALEXANDER H. ROBBINS, Managing Editor
that of Baker y. Libbie, 210 Mass. 599, 37 Central Law Journal.
L. R. A. (N. S.) 944, in which the ques
tion of the publication of the private letST. LOUIS, MO., JANUARY 4, 1918.
ters of Mrs. Eddy, the founder of Chris
tian Science, was involved. QU'ALIFIED RIGHTS OF ADDRESSEE IN LETTERS AS LITERARY PROPERTY. It was claimed that the use intended to
be made of the letters came under a recIn King et al. v. King, 108 Pac. 730, ognized exception justifying the use of the
letters and was for the purpose of public decided by Wyoming Supreme Court, the question was of the right of sender and justice. But the court said: “By no concep
tion can it be claimed that the tribunals addressee to restrain, by injunction, the
or rules adopted within the precincts of a publication of letters, which defendant
secret organization could be considered for clandestinely had obtained and used in a
the purposes of public justice publicly addivorce suit.
ministered according to the established inIn this case it appears that personal and stitutions of the country.” private letters had been written by one of While this view is sound, yet we greatly the plaintiffs to the other and defendant doubt that the, exception would cover a had used them as evidence in her divorce case of a party seeking to use in a suit for suit against such other plaintiff and at the vindication of his private rights in a court conclusion of the case by agreement they of justice such letters. were sealed up and placed in the custody It might be that in a criminal prosecution of the clerk of the court. Afterwards de
they might be available as evidence. But dendant in the proceeding at bar by her ap- where a civil action is tried, publie justice plication to the court sought an order for should not override a third party's vested the unsealing of said letters so as to use rights in seeking one's own rights. them in a proceeding before a lodge of a The exception above stated admittedly secret order. Temporary injunction was is limited to cases where letters do not denied against granting of the order and tend to criminate any person required by this ruling was reversed by the Supreme law to produce them for use as evidence. Court of Wyoming.
But this is on the theory that outside rights
are in no wise to be jeopardized by one In an early opinion by Judge Story it using judicial tribunal to secure justice was ruled that the author of letters writ- for himself. His claim for this is ten and sent to another had exclusive copy- a a private or personal matter. It is not a right therein and could prevent publication matter of public justice that it be granted thereof by addressee for his own benefit. to him. It is matter of public justice only It was said: “In short, the person to whom as the setting of a precedent in law, that letters are addressed has but a limited right procedure therefore be in due and regular in special property (if I may so call it)
Above all things a court of jusin such letters, as a trustee or bailee, for
tice goes upon the principle that ro vested particular purposes, either of information right shall be taken away from another or of protection, or of support of his own
without his having his day in court. And rights and character."
it is said in the case considered that a