Woodward v. Woodward

Decision Date03 June 1886
CourtNew Jersey Court of Chancery

On final hearing on petition and answer, and proofs taken in open court.

John A. Miller and William B. Guild, Jr., for petitioner.

Paul W. Roder and Samuel Kalisch, for defendant.

VAN FLEET, V. C. This is a suit by a husband against his wife for divorce on the ground of adultery. But a single question is presented for decision: Is adultery proved? Two adulterous acts are charged: one committed with a man by the name of Carr on the sixteenth of March, 1885; and the other with the petitioner's own brother on the sixth of January, 1886. The last was abandoned on the argument, not because the fact of illicit sexual intercourse was not proved, but because the proofs which established the wife's guilt demonstrated, with almost equal clearness, that the petitioner had procured her to be debauched. A husband who consents to the adultery of his wife cannot make her criminal act a ground of divorce. His consent bars his right to a decree of divorce. The statute so declares. And a husband who endeavors to procure his wife to be lured into the commission of adultery will be regarded as consenting to all subsequent acts of adultery which she may commit, whether they be committed with the person selected by him or with others. Hedden v. Hedden, 21 N. J. Eq. 61; 2 Bish. Mar & Div. §§ 10, 11.

The position in which the evidence places the petitioner before the court is such as to induce the court to look, both upon him and his case, with strong suspicion and distrust. To get rid of his wife, the proofs show that he entered into a conspiracy with his own brother to have him debauch his wife. His conduct involved something more than a is damaged by the accumulation of water thereon, the town will be liable. Field v. Town of West Orange, (N. J.) 2 Atl. Rep. 236.

An action will not lie by an individual against a city for damages to his premises resulting from the exercise, by the city, of a lawful authority to grade the streets; there being no want of care or skill alleged. Simmons v. City of Camden, 20 Ark. 270.

In Ashley v. Port Huron, 35 Mich. 296, the city constructed a sewer in such a manner as to throw large quantities of water upon plaintiff's premises, which would not otherwise have flowed there; and the city was held liable for the damage most cruel violation of conjugal duty; it involved a detestable crime,—the ignominious dishonor of his wife, and the utter degradation of his brother and himself. Were the case one in which it would be proper to apply the maxim that he that hath committed iniquity shall not have equity, or, as it is sometimes rendered, that he who comes into equity must come with clean hands, the court would thrust the petitioner from its doors promptly and sternly. But this maxim cannot be applied to the petitioner if it be true that the defendant committed adultery on the sixteenth of March, 1885. If she was guilty of adultery on that day, her crime was purely the result of her own depraved nature. There is nothing in the evidence which will justify even a suspicion that up to that time a desire had found a place in the petitioner's heart that his wife might go astray. If, therefore, she did commit adultery on that day, her crime constituted a ground of divorce. Her criminal act gave her husband a right of action against her, which nothing short of his voluntary surrender, or the commission by him of a matrimonial offense, which entitled her to a divorce, could deprive him 'of. The iniquity which deprives a suitor of a right to justice in a court of equity is not general iniquitous conduct, unconnected with the act of the defendant which the complaining party states as his ground or cause of action, but it must be evil practice or wrongful conduct in the particular matter or transaction in respect to which judicial protection or redress is sought. 1 Pom. Eq. Jur. § 399. As already remarked, the petitioner stands, so far as the adulterous act committed by the defendant on the sixteenth of March, 1885, is concerned, free from the least suspicion of complicity in it. There is no reason to doubt that at that time he desired his wife to be faithful to him and live a chaste life.

The proofs, I think, show that the defendant was guilty of adultery on the sixteenth of March, 1885. At that time the parties, as well as the defendant's paramour, resided in the city of Newark. There is no dispute that the defendant left her home on the evening of the day in question, about 6 o'clock, in company with Carr, to go to the house of James Stanley, nor that she was then drunk, nor that two or three hours after leaving home she appeared at the house of Stanley, in a state of gross intoxication, in company with Carr. Carr was then the proprietor of a liquor saloon located on Belleville avenue, which the defendant and he passed in going to Stanley's. Carr's bar-tender swears that the defendant came into the saloon with Carr on the evening in question, and that shortly after they entered Carr sent him away on an errand, and that he was absent over an hour, and when he returned the defendant was still there, but that she and Carr left together soon after he returned. Carr and the defendant both deny that she entered Carr's saloon, but they admit that they went to Stanley's together. Carr and the defendant both say that they were admitted to...

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  • Kirby v. Union P. Ry. Co.
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court
    • December 4, 1911
    ... ... [119 P. 1049] ... matter or transaction in respect to which judicial ... protection or redress is sought.' ... In ... Woodward v. Woodward, 41 N.J.Eq. 224, at page 225, 4 A. 424, ... at page 425, the vice chancellor says: ... 'The ... iniquity which deprives a ... ...
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    ...A. 8) 220 F. 660, 662, 136 C. C. A. 268, 270, and cases cited. See, also, Bentley v. Tibbals (C. C. A. 2), 223 F. 247; Woodward v. Woodward, 41 N. J. Eq. 224, 4 A. 424; Vulcan Detinning Co. v. American Can Co. (N. J. Err. & App.) 72 N. J. Eq. 387, 67 A. 339, 12 L. R. A. (N. S.) 102; Weidman......
  • The State ex rel. Hyde v. Jackson County Medical Society
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    • July 27, 1922
    ...on his behalf, to acknowledge his right, or to award him any remedy. He who does iniquity, shall not have equity.' "In Woodward v. Woodward, 41 N.J.Eq. 224, 4 A. 424, it is that, 'The iniquity which deprives a suitor of a right to justice in a court of equity, is not general iniquitous cond......
  • S.K. v. P.D.
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    • March 29, 2019
    ...Neiman, 11 N.J. at 60, 93 A.2d 345. Second, a party seeking relief in equity "must come with clean hands." Woodward v. Woodward, 41 N.J. Eq. 224, 225, 4 A. 424 (Ch. 1886). In this case, the arrears at issue resulted from defendant having violated a court order that required him to pay child......
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