- Feb 2014
The cases on the subject are collected in a footnote to Somerset Bank v. Edmund, 10 Am. & Eng. Ann. Cas. 726; 76 Ohio St. Rep. 396, the head-note to which reads: "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." This rule of public policy has been relaxed only in those instances where the legislature for sufficient public reason has seen fit by statute to extend the stimulus of a reward to the public without distinction, as in the case of United States v. Matthews, 173 U.S. 381, where the attorney-general, under an act for "the detection and prosecution of crimes against the United States," made a public offer of reward sufficiently liberal and generic to comprehend the services of a federal deputy marshal. Exceptions of that character upon familiar principles serve to emphasize the correctness of the rule, as one based upon sound public policy.
1) A public officer cannot demand or receive remuneration or a reward for carrying out the duty of his job as a matter of public policy and morality
2) However, it is not against public policy for a police officer to receive a reward in performance of his legal duty if the legislature passes a statute giving the reward to the public at large in furtherance of some public policy - such as preventing treason against the US.
MINTURN, J. The plaintiff occupied the position of a special police officer, in Atlantic City, and incidentally was identified with the work of the prosecutor of the pleas of the county. He possessed knowledge concerning the theft of certain diamonds and jewelry from the possession of the defendant, who had advertised a reward for the recovery of the property. In this situation he claims to have entered into a verbal contract with defendant, whereby she agreed to pay him $500 if he could procure for her the names and addresses of the thieves. As a result of his meditation with the police authorities the diamonds and jewelry were recovered, and plaintiff brought this suit to recover the promised reward.
- Plaintiff makes a verbal contract with defendant. In return for $500, plaintiff will find defendant's stolen jewels.
- Plaintiff had knowledge of whereabouts of jewels at contract formation.
- Plaintiff is a special police officer and has dealings with prosecutor's office.
- Defendant published advertisement for reward.
- Plaintiff finds stolen goods and arranges return.
- verbal contract
- public officer
- stolen goods
- police officer
- contract formation
- prosecutors office
- rule of law
- judicial opinion
- facts of the case
- sample brief
- public official