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State v. Reade

Decided: January 19, 1948.

THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY,
v.
WALTER READE, DEFENDANT-APPLICANT



On application for writ of certiorari.

For the State of New Jersey, J. Victor Carton, Prosecutor of the Pleas in and for the County of Monmouth.

For the defendant-applicant, Harry Green.

Before Justices Donges, Colie and Eastwood.

Eastwood

The opinion of the court was delivered by

EASTWOOD, J. Defendant, Walter Reade, applies to this court for three writs of certiorari to review the validity of indictments returned against him for criminal libel by the grand jury of Monmouth County. He advances the same grounds for the allowance of the three writs, viz.:

"(a) The indictment fails to set forth and charge a crime and the same appears on the face of said indictment, and

"(b) The indictment fails to set forth facts sufficient to constitute the crime of criminal libel."

The three applications are submitted as one issue and to be decided accordingly. A motion to quash said indictments was made to and denied by the Honorable J. Edward Knight, presiding over the Monmouth County Court of Quarter Sessions. Subsequently, an application for writs of certiorari to review said indictments was made to and denied by Supreme Court Justice William A. Wachenfeld.

Under Point I, defendant contends that the three indictments are invalid because they fail to allege that the defamation charged against the defendant was in writing or printed and, therefore, the omission of said words makes the indictments fatally defective. Each of the indictments alleges that the defendant "did compose and publish a * * * defamatory libel of and concerning * * *" and sets forth in full the alleged defamatory article. All textbook writers and the decisions of our courts are in accord that "libel" is any printed or written defamation of a person, published maliciously and without justification. Mr. Justice Hendrickson, speaking for the Court of Errors and Appeals in Benton v. State, 59 N.J.L. 551 (at p. 556), stated:

"It is the language of authority that any written or printed words are libelous which impute to a person that he has been guilty of any crime, fraud, dishonesty, immorality, vice or dishonorable conduct, or which have a tendency to injure him in his office, profession, calling or trade."

The common acceptation and meaning of the word "libel," is, as stated, a written or printed defamatory publication, as contrasted ...


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