13 Mass. 248 (Mass. 1816), Chaddock v. Briggs
|Citation:||13 Mass. 248|
|Opinion Judge:||Parker, C. J.|
|Party Name:||Calvin Chaddock v. Alden Briggs, Jun|
|Attorney:||B. Whitman, in support of the motion, Hobart, for the plaintiff.|
|Court:||Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts|
This was an action of the case for slander, in which the plaintiff declares, "that, whereas he is a good and faithful citizen of this Commonwealth, and for more than eight years now last past has been, and now is, a minister and preacher of the gospel, legally settled and ordained over the congregational church and society in Hanover, and was always of good reputation and character for temperance and sobriety among, &c., and is, and ever has been, free from the odious and criminal offence of drunkenness; nevertheless, the said Alden, not being ignorant of the premises, but maliciously and wickedly contriving and intending to blacken and defame the plaintiff in his good name and reputation, injure him in his ministerial office aforesaid, and put him in danger of losing the same and the profits accruing to him therefrom, on, &c., at, &c., in the presence and hearing of divers good citizens, &c., did openly speak, utter, and publish, of and concerning the plaintiff, so being such minister and preacher of the gospel as aforesaid, the following false, scandalous, malicious, and defamatory words, namely; 'Old Chaddock' (meaning the plaintiff) 'stayed at our house last night, and was pretty devilish drunk. He was so drunk he could not find his keg. He made out to stagger up to the house. He was drunk.' And at, &c., on, &c., in the presence and hearing of, &c., and with the intention and for the purposes aforesaid, did openly speak, &c., of and concerning the plaintiff, so being such minister, &c., these other false, &c., words, namely; 'Mr. Chaddock' (meaning the plaintiff) 'has had a drunken frolic this week. He and a party went out a getting hay, got back to our house, and he got so drunk he could not get home, but stayed and slept with me.' By means of speaking and publishing which said several false, &c., words, the plaintiff has been unjustly suspected to have been guilty of the crime of drunkenness, and has been put in danger of being deprived of his ministerial office aforesaid, and losing the profits accruing to him from the same; and likewise has undergone great pain and distress in body and mind; and has been greatly injured and prejudiced in his good name, and in his religious character and usefulness. To his damage $ 2000."
A verdict being found for the plaintiff, the defendant moved an arrest of judgment, because the declaration did not show a sufficient cause of action.
Judgment on the verdict.
But, if this be not so, the words in this case are not alleged to have been spoken of the plaintiff in his clerical character. There is no colloquium laid, to this effect; nor do the words of themselves show any relation or connection with his official character. 1
Nor do the words charged imply a crime for which the plaintiff might legally be prosecuted; nor such a habit as might subject him to the inconvenience and disgrace of having a guardian placed over him by our laws. They intimate but a single instance of frailty, not at all inconsistent with a general good character and virtuous habits. 2
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