State v. Shack Case Brief

Summary of State v. Shack, 277 A.2d 369 (N.J. 1971)

Facts: Defendants (D) were working for two nonprofit government subsidized organizations that were established to provide legal and medical aid to seasonal farm workers. D went to plaintiff’s (P) farm to render medical attention to one farm worker and legal advice to another. P stopped them and told them that legal advice will only be given in his office and in his presence. D refused. P called the police and defendants were convicted under a trespass statute.

Issue: Could D have entered P’s land in order to render services to seasonal farm workers who were working for P and living on P’s land?

Holding: Yes

Rationale: According to the court, property rights are not absolute. According to the ct.: “Title to real property cannot include dominion over the destiny of persons the owner permits to come upon the premises." Historically, property rights were considered absolute. But as society advanced, property rights are considered more in the social context. Therefore, P could not have withheld government provided aid from his farm workers. P had the right to keep his work free from interference, but he had no right to isolate his farm workers from the outside world. Reversed.

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