Same - Agreements Tending To Pervert Or Obstruct Public Justice

158. Any agreement which tends to pervert or obstruct public justice is contrary to public policy, and void.

159. COMPOUNDING CRIME. An agreement to stifle a criminal prosecution is illegal.

160. ARBITRATION. Agreements to refer matters to arbitration as a condition precedent to suit, at least if not going to the whole question of liability, are valid; but it is otherwise where the agreement is to refer to arbitration alone, and not to sue at all.

Any agreement which tends to pervert or obstruct public justice, even though it may not amount to a crime,6 is illegal, as being contrary to public policy. If an agreement, for instance, tends to induce a witness to perjure himself, or to give false testimony through bias, or if it tends to induce parties to procure false testimony, it will not be enforced.7 In an Alabama case a party had promised to give a witness, for attending court, a sum of money in excess of his legal fees, the* amount of the compensation to depend on the promisor's success in the suit, and the agreement was held void. "Such contracts," said the court, "are against sound policy, because their inevitable tendency is. if not to invite to perjury, at least to sway the mind of the witness, by giving him the interest of a party to the cause, and thus contaminate the stream of justice at its source." 8 For the same agreement by a party to pay a witness compensation in addition to his legal fees is contrary to public policy. See Greenh. Pub. Pol. p. 441. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 129; Cent. Dig. §§ 616-632.

6 Clark, Cr. Law (2d Ed.) 148, 376, and cases cited; Buck v. Bank, 27 Mich. 293, 15 Am. Rep. 180. Agreement for feigned suit to test validity of bounds before issue. Van Horn v. Kittitas County (C. C.) 112 Fed. 1. Agreement by a lawyer for an additional fee if he succeeded in suspending the enforcement or operation of a criminal statute. Arlington Hotel Co. v. Ewing. 124 Tenn. 536, 138 S. W. 954, 38 L. R. A. (N. S.) 842, Ann. Cas. 1913A 12L See "Contracts:" Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 129; Cent. Dig. §§ 616-632.

7 Gillet v. Logan Co., 67 I11. 256; Goodrich v. Tenney, 144 I11. 422, 33 N. E. 44, 19 L. R. A. 371, 36 Am. St Rep. 459; Patterson v. Donner, 48 Cal. 369; Greenh. Pub. Pol. p. 441, and cases cited; Hutley v. Hutley, L. R. 8 Q. B. 112; Paton v. Stewart, 78 I11. 481; Bowling v. Blum (Tex. Civ. App.) 52 S. W. 97; Langdon v. Conlin, 67 Neb. 243, 93 N. W. 389, 60 L. R. A. 429, 108 Am. St. Rep. 643, 2 Ann. Cas. 834; Neece v. Joseph, 95 Ark. 552, 129 S. W. 797, 30 L. It. A. (N. S.) 278, Ann. Cas. 1912A, 655. A contract to procure such testimony as will procure a verdict is void. Quirk v. Muller, 14 Mont. 467, 36 Pac. 1077, 25 L. R. A. 87, 43 Am. St. Rep. 647. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 129; Cent. Dig. §§ 616-632.

8 Dawkins v. Gill, 10 Ala. 206. There are many cases which hold that an reason a contract is void by which an injured person agrees to pay his physician a portion of any amount recovered by him for the injury.9 So, also, agreements are illegal if they contemplate the suppression of lawful evidence.10 And a contract between a lawyer and a layman by which the latter -is to hunt up cases and bring them to the lawyer in consideration of a portion of the fees is void.11

A contract by a principal in a bail bond in a criminal case to indemnify his surety has been declared void in some jurisdictions, on the ground that "it gives the public the security of one person only, instead of two";12 in other jurisdictions however, such contracts have been sustained.18 And the courts are agreed that a contract by a third person to indemnify the surety is valid, for here the public still has the security of two persons.14

All agreements, it is said in a late Indiana case, relating to proceedings in courts, civil or criminal, which may involve anything inconsistent with the impartial course of justice, are void, though not open to the charge of actual corruption, and regardless of the good faith of the parties, or of the fact that no evil resulted therefrom.15

9 Sherman v. Burton, 165 Mich. 293, 130 N. W. 667, 33 L. R A. (N. S.) 87; Thomas v. Caulkett, 57 Mich. 392, 24 N. W. 154, 58 Am. Rep. 369. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 129; Cent. Dig. §§ 616-632.

10 Greenh. Pub. Pol. p. 441. As, where an attorney for a consideration agrees with a person accused of crime to procure the release from .jail of a witness against him. Crisup v. Grosslight, 79 Mich. 380, 44 N. W. 621. And see Bostick v. McClaren, 2 Brev. (S. C.) 275; Badger v. Williams, 1 D. Chip. (Vt) 137; Thompson v. Whitman, 49 N. C. 47; Young v. Thomson, 14 Colo. App. 294, 59 Pac. 1030. Regulating disclosure of witness. Wight v. Rindskopf, 43 Wis. 344. Asserting unjust claims. Rhodes v. Sparks, 6 Pa. 473. Contract for a consideration to induce witness to leave the state and remain away. Small v. Lowrey, 166 Mo. App. 108, 148 S. W. 132. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 129; Cent. Dig. §§ 616-632.

11 Holland v. Sheehan, 108 Minn. 362, 122 N. W. 1, 23 L. R. A. (N. S.) 510 17 Ann. Cas. 687. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 129; Cent. Dig. §§ 116-132; "Champerty and Maintenance," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 5; Cent. Dig. §35.

12 United States v. Greene (C. C.) 163 Fed. 442. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 129; Cent. Dig. §§ 616-632.

13 Moloney v. Nelson, 158 N. Y. 351. 53 N. E. 31; Essig v. Turner, 60 Wash. 175, 110 Pac. 998; Carr v. Davis, 64 W. Va. 522, 63 S. E. 326, 20 L. R. A. (N. S.) 58, 16 Ann. Cas. 1031. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 129; Cent. Dig. §§ 616-632.

14 United States v. Greene (C. C.) 163 Fed. 442; Essig v. Turner, 60 Wash. 175, 110 Pac, 998. See "Contracts," Dec. Dig. (Key-No.) § 129; Cent. Dig. §§ 616-632.

15 Brown v. Bank, 137 Ind. 165, 37 N. E. 158, 24 L. R. A. 206 (contract made

So, also, it is to the interest of the public that litigants should be free to settle their disputes, and a contract between an attorney and client, by which the client is forbidden to settle his cause of action without consent of the attorney, is contrary to. public policy and void.16