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Riggs V Palmer

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/5/2014 Category: Education
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 364 times Debate No: 66426
Debate Rounds (4)
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1. On August 13 1880 Francis B Palmer made his last will and testament to give his two daughters his small legacies and the remaining of his estates to his grandson, Elmer E Palmer. (1.1 )
2. When Elmer turned 16 years of age he poisoned his grandfather because he knew of the estate granted to him in the will and wanted immediate possession. (1.5 )
3. The purpose of a will is to disperse the testator's possessions in the way he wants and have their dying wishes fulfilled once they have perished. (3.1 )
4. It is however not part of the testator's intent to be murdered for the benefits of the will. (3.3 )
5. A standard rule in construction of documents such as these; it is a unwritten rule that certain things that are implied or intended upon in a statute are to be accepted as if they were actually in the statute, as well as if certain things are actually in the statute they are not to be over read or misinterpreted unless it is the makers intent. (3.5 )
6. Since there is no way to truly know what the makers intent is, you must assume him a upright and reasonable man and imagine what he would have done. Doing this does not mean you are going against the will it simply means you are doing no more than the maker would have done. (4.6 )
7. Circumstances were found unreasonable the judges state that no man should determine his own quarrel therefore the will is void. (4.11 )
8.No man shall profit by his own fraud (7.2 )
9. You cannot delegate yourself with entitlement by wrongdoing or law breaking. (11.6 )
10. "Aequitas est correctio legis generaliter latae qua parti deficit." (4.10)
11. Elmer E. Palmer will not be granted any benefits from the testament of his grandfather. (15.1 )

Non-Controversial: 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5

Controversial: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, and 11

6, 7, 8, and 9. It is judicious to assume that any upright and reasonable person would modify their will and eradicate the person who attempted to murder them from the will and any of its benefits. The moralities of the murdered party are being secured in which a way no person shall profit from what is not lawfully and honestly theirs.

10. If the lawmakers could, as to this case, be consulted, would they say that they intended by their general language that the property of a testator or of an ancestor should pass to one who had taken his life for the express purpose of getting his property?

11. It is not realistic to assume that any sound person would leave their will unaltered upon learning the fatal intentions of someone whom he bestowed with property.

Someone who has drawn a will to further provide for loved ones once he has passed from an untimely event does not envisage to be murdered by those same loved ones. It is unjust and unlawful to carry out terms in a will that has been intentionally reformed for the benefits of the inheritors. The fact still remains that the defendant could have very well perished before the testator and therefore not have inherited anything. The defendant so vindictively decided to take matters into his own hands and now wants to harvest the benefits of his criminal act. The court may not have the power to revise a person's will in its full extent, but it should be able to alter certain portions under special occurrences. Special occurrences being should such actions be compensated for? Is it just that a beneficiary is able to benefit from the benefactors will if he has greedily sped the process for his own advantage?


1.Elmer Palmer, a boy of sixteen years of age, knowing of the standards in his grandfather's will, which constituted him the residuary legatee of the testator's estate, killed him by poison in 1882 (1.17.1)
2.For this crime he was convicted of murder in the second degree, and at the time of the commencement of this action he was serving out his sentence in the state reformatory. (1.17.2)
3.This action was made by two of the children of the Mr. Palmer for the purpose of having those provisions of the will in the respondent's favor canceled and annulled (1.17.3)
4.The appellants' argument for a reversal of the judgment, which dismissed their complaint, is that the person in the will unlawfully prevented a revocation of the existing will, or a new will from being made, by his crime, and that he ended the enjoyment by the testator of his property and effected his own succession to it by the same crime. (1. 18. 1)
5.They say that to permit the respondent to take the property willed to him would be to permit him to take advantage of his own wrong (1.18.3)
6.We are bound by the rigid rules of law, which have been established by the legislature, and within the limits of which the determination [*516] of this question is confined. (1.19.2)
7.The question we are dealing with is, whether a testamentary disposition can be altered, or a will revoked, after the testator's death, through an appeal to the courts, when the legislature has, by its enactments, prescribed exactly when and how wills may be made, altered and revoked, and, apparently, as it seems to me, when they have been fully complied with, has left no room for the exercise of an equitable jurisdiction by courts over such matters. (1.19.3)
8.Complete freedom of testamentary disposition of one's property has not been and is not the universal rule; as we see from the provisions of the Napoleonic Code, from those systems of jurisprudence in other countries which are modeled upon the Roman law, and from the statutes of many of our states. (1.19.5)
9.To the statutory restraints, which are imposed upon the disposition of one's property by will, are added strict and systematic statutory rules for the execution, alteration and revocation of the will; which must be, at least, substantially, if not exactly, followed to insure validity and performance. (1. 19. 6)
10.That freedom, which is permitted to be exercised in the testamentary disposition of one's estate by the laws of the state, is subject to its being exercised in conformity with the regulations of the statutes. (1.19.8)
11.The capacity and the power of the individual to dispose of his property after death, and the mode by which that power can be exercised, are matters of which the legislature has assumed the entire control, and has undertaken to regulate with comprehensive particularity. (1. 19.9)
12.Therefore, in the trial and punishment of the respondent the law has [*520] vindicated itself for the outrage which he committed, and further judicial utterance upon the subject of punishment or deprivation of rights is barred. (1.25.3)

Controversial arguments: 5, 6, 8, 9,10, 11.

5: Permitting the respondent to take the property willed to him is not taking advantage of his wrong, because the respondent served their dues.

6: The rules of the law do not state that respondent is taking advantage of his wrong when he or she receives the property of will. A will can only be revoked by another will, writing that indicates to revoke the will, or physical damage to the will (1).

8: Complete freedom is indeed the universal rule, especially when dealing with last testaments.

9: Execution, revocation, and alteration of will can only be done when the will is compromised physically or by another will (1).

10, 11: The regulations of statutes state that regulating the making, proof and effect of wills, and the devolution of property can in no way and under no circumstances be controlled or modified

Debate Round No. 1


1. It is disputable that the defendant took advantage of his wrongdoing. The will itself was granted to him under terms that could have very well been null if the testator had outlived the defendant. The rubrics of the will state that Elmer, the defendant, would receive the dowry if and only if he should survive him and die under age unmarried and without any issue. Why is it OK to honor the modification of the will done by the defendant but not the courts itself.

2. It is very plausible to assume that any reasonable man with the knowledge of a family member or loved ones criminal intent would not leave the will to remain as is. The will in a sense hasn"t been changed or altered; the defendant has just been denied his right to claim his inheritance. I don"t find it ethical to allow a man who hastily brought on his affluence by murder to be reprimanded in one aspect and rewarded in another. He has committed two crimes and should be punished accordingly. The same ruling would apply if a man took out an insurance policy on his wife and later killed her to acquire the profits from the insurance policy. Is it ok to say then that because the policy is a legal binding document it is to be honored no matter the circumstance?

3. An example could be used from New York Mutual Life Insurance Company v. Armstrong where the court decided that any profit within the benefactor's insurance policy should not be granted to the beneficiaries if the beneficiaries are found to be guilty of murdering the benefactor.

4. New York Mutual Life Insurance Company v. Armstrong: "On the eighth of December, 1877, the Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York issued a policy of insurance on the life of John M. Armstrong, of Philadelphia, for $10,000. It was what is known as an endowment policy; that is, a policy payable to the assured if he live a designated time, but to some other person named if he die before the expiration of that time. It was payable, subject to certain conditions, to the assured or his assigns on the eighth of December, 1897, at the office of the company in New York; or, if he should die before that time, to his legal representatives, within 60 days after notice and proof of his death... On the twenty-fifth of January, 1878, Armstrong died, and his widow was appointed administrator of his estate. The required notice and proof of his death were furnished, and the insurance money not being paid, she brought this action for its recovery in a court of the state of New York, and, on motion of the company, it was removed to the circuit court of the United States."


6. The punishment the defendant is receiving does not take anything from him but rather it denies him what could have been his. He is only being punished once, for the murder of his grandfather. The reason being is if Elmer would have left his house the next day and been hit by a car or any other untimely event he wouldn"t have received the inheritance anyways. There are consequences to implemented when a man has done something malevolent.

7. We know what is being done in order to receive the inheritance is erroneous and distressing and the statute regarding the changes to a will has been vaguely detailed so that certain precedents and decisions can be made when there are special circumstances such as these.

8. If the statute for the alteration of a will or testament were made out to be entirely specific it would then create an alleyway for loopholes to be made. There would be no way to prevent a man from profiting from his crime.


stapledshut forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


rashandahartman forfeited this round.


stapledshut forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


rashandahartman forfeited this round.


stapledshut forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
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