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Where the case admits of reasonable doubt as to whether the amount in controversy is within the jurisdiction, and where the plaintiff might have had reasonable grounds to believe that he could recover a sum within the jurisdiction, the suit will not be dismissed, as all intendments in a doubtful case are in favor of the jurisdiction: Dwyer v. Bassett, 63 Tex. 274.
The plaintiff must claim a sum sufficient to give the court jurisdiction, u it will not infer jurisdiction from the nature of the case: Stephen V. Eiseman 54 Miss. 535; Wade v. Loudon, 30 La. Ann. 660; Gouhenant v. Anderson, 20 Tox. 459. And if it appears from the pleadings that the real sum to which plaintiff is entitled is insufficient to confer jurisdiction, although a sufficient amount is claimed, the case should be dismissed: Breidert v. Krueger, 76 Ind. 55; Hunt v. Rockwell, 41 Ind. 51; Gamber v. Holben, 5 Mich. 331. If the plaintiff bona fide claims an amount sufficient to give the court jurisdiction, and an unintentional error is discovered at the trial, which reduces the claim below that sum, the court need not disiniss the case: Scott v. Moore, 41 Vt. 205; 98 Am. Dec. 581. And a prima facie intention to evade the law, raised by a verdict for less than the jurisdictional amount, may be overcome by, an affidavit of good faith on the part of the plaintiff: Johnston v. Frances, 13 Ired. 465.
When, by the pleadings, a claim is made for an amount in excess of the jurisdiction of the court, the case should be dismissed: Stevers v. Gunz, 23 Minn. 520; Henks v. Debertshauser, 1 Mo. App. 402; McQuade v. O'Neil, 15 Gray, 52; Ball v. Biggam, 43 Kan. 327, where the amount claimed in the bill of particulars was held to fix the jurisdiction. If the amount claimed by such bill is, however, within the limit of jurisdiction, the latter is not ousted, although the complaint claims an amount in excess thereof: Second National Bank v. Hutton, 81 Ind. 101.
As a general rule, it may be stated that when the principal sum claimed, exclusive of interest, is within the jurisdictional limit, the fact that accrued interest is due thereon, and that such interest and the sum claimed exceed the jurisdictional limit, does not deprive the court of jurisdiction, and judg. ment may be entered for the sum sued for, with the interest: Trego v. Leucis, 58 Pa. St. 463; Hedgecock v. Davis, 64 N. C. 650; Jackson v. Whitfield, 51 Miss. 202; Inhabitants of Township No. 11 v. Weir, 9 Ind. 224; Ifrls' v. Kardens, 60 Ill. 117; Bell v. Ayres, 44 Conn. 35; Solomon v. Reese, 34 Cal. 28.
A coutrary rule is, however, asserted in Butler v. Wagner, 35 Wis. 54. It seems that the plaintiff cannot sue for both principal and interest, and thus conier jurisdiction when the principal alone is less than the jurisdictional limit: Fisher v. Hall, 1 Ark. 275.
The plaintiff may waive or remit his interest, and thus reduce bis demand, for the purpose of bringing his claim within the jurisdiction of the court so as to recover judgment: Ruymond v. Strobel, 24 Ill. 114; Wrigjlit v. Smith, 76 III. 216; Erans v. Hall, 45 Pa. St. 235; Bower v. AlcCormick, 73 Pa. St. 427.
Costs are not added to the principal suin sued for in determining the question of jurisdiction: Watson v. Ward, 27 Minn, 29. Where a note sued on provides for the collection of an attorney's fee in addition to the principal sum in case of suit, and such sum and fee together inake an amount beyond the jurisilictional liinit, the jurisdiction of the court 18 ousteil: Baxter v. Bates, 69 Ga. 587.
It seems to be perfectly well settled that though the jurisdiction of a court is limited to a certain sum, and the original indebtedness sued upon exceeds that amount, still, the jurisdiction of the court is not ousted if the original sum has been reduced below the jurisdictional limits by bona fide credits:
Hugunin v. Nicholson, I Scam. 574; Dillard v. Noel, 2 Ark. 449; Fowler v.
There is some controversy on the question whether or not the plaintiff can voluntarily remit part of his claim so as to bring the case within the jurisdiction of the court. In the folluwing cases it was decided that he had a perfect right to do so, and the jurisdiction was sustained: Carpenter v. Wells, 65 III. 451; Raymond v. Strobel, 24 III. 453; Wright v. Smith, 76 Ill. 216; Culley v. Lay. brook, 8 Ind. 285; Long v. Bakefield, 48 Ala. 608; Hapgood v. Doherty, 8 Gray, 373; Hempler v. Schneider, 17 Mo. 258; Matlack v. Lare, 32 Mo. 262; Fuller v. Sparks, 39 Tex. 137; Wilhelms v. Noble, 36 Ga. 599; Litchfield v. Daniels, 1 Col. 268.
While in the following cases the right was denied, and it was decided that the court could not thus obtain jurisdiction: Peter v. Schlosser, 81 Pa. St. 439; Todd v. Gates, 20 W. Va. 464; Bower v. McCormick, 73 Pa. St. 427; Axkew v. Askero, 49 Miss. 301; McDonald v. Dickens, 58 Ga. 77.
Where the claim upon which suit is brought is one entire transaction or account, the plaintiff cannot split up the sum due thereon so as to give a cer. tain court jurisdiction: Milroy v. Spurt Mountain etc. Co., 43 Mich. 231; F'ub ler v. Sparks, 39 Tex. 137; Thompson v. Sutton, 51 III. 213; Lucas v. Le Compte, 42 11. 303; Asker v. Askew, 49 Miss. 301; Caldwell v. Bratty, 69 N. C. 365; Magruder v. Randolph, 77 N. C. 79; Ash v. Lee, 51 Miss. 101.
If a party, however, holds several distinct notes or demands against the same party, he inay bring separate suits on each of such notes or demands, and if the demand sued upon is within the jurisdictional limit, separate juigments may be rendered in each of such suits, although the aggregate amount thereof exceeils the jurisdiction: Luce v. Shoff, 70 Ind. 152; Ash v. Lee, 51 Miss. 101; Wilson v. Mason, 3 Ark. 494; Collins v. Woodruff, 9 Ark. 463; Boyle v. Grant, 18 Pa. St. 162; Howard v. Mansfield, 30 Wis. 75.
Different and distinct causes of action cannot, in a few of the states, be joined in one declaration so as to make the aggregate value claimed within the jurisdiction of a particular court: Toledo etc. Rüy Co. v. Tilton, 27 Ind. 71; Berry v. Linton, 1 Ark. 252; Nichols v. Hastings, 35 Conn. 546; Denixon v. Denison, 16 Conn. 34. Nor can different causes of action against different parties be thus joined: Broadwell v. Smith, 28 La. Ann. 172.
The liinit of a court's jurisdiction generally applies as well to the amount of defendant's set-off as to the plaintiff's demand; and if the set-off is in ex. cess of the jurisdictional limit, it cannot be allowed: Milliken v. Gardner, 37 Pa. St. 456; Deihm v. Snell, 119 Pa. St. 316. This rule bas been denied in Murphy v. Erans, 11 Ind. 517; but this case is overruled by the subsequent case of Pate v. Shafer, 19 Ind. 173; and in accordance with the general rule is Derr v. Stubbs, 83 N. C. 539.
When, npon appeal, it appears that the claim in dispute was not within the jurisdiction of the trial court, the ju«Igment will be reversed: Collins v. Collins, 37 Pa. St. 387; McClure v. Lay, 30 Ala, 208; Butler v. Wagner, 35 Wis. 54; Coolan v. Bryant, 36 Wis. 605; Dartez v. Lege, 28 La. Ann. 640; McQuade v. O'Neil, 15 Gray, 52.
The total omission of an ad damnum clause in the writ, or laying it too small, is a fatal defect after the rendition of judgment; but until the judg. ment is rendered, the writ may be amended by inserting a proper or suffi. cient sum to give the court jurisdiction: McLellan v. Crofton, 6 Me. 307; Merrill v. Curtis, 57 Me. 152; Flanders v. Atkinson, 18 N. H. 167; Taylor v. Jones, 42 N. H. 25; Cragin v. Warfield, 13 Met. 215. So the amount claimed may be reduced in the trial conrt, by amenilment, at any time before the rendition of judgment: Converse v. Damariscotta Bank, 15 Me. 431; Hurt v. Waitt, 3 Allen, 532.
An amendinent of the ad damnum clause has been allowed in the trial court, by increasing it to give the right of appeal: Taylor v. Jones, 42 N. H. 25; Danielson v. Andrews, 1 Pick. 156. The sum claimed, however, cannot be amended in the appellate court so as to give the lower court jurisdiction: McQuade v. O'Neil, 15 Gray, 52; Ladd v. Kimball, 12 Gray, 139. The amount claimed in the ad damnum clause determines the right of appeal, and not an erroneous judgment in excess thereof: Hemmenway v. Hicks, 4 Pick. 497; nor the amount set out in the declaration: Chamberlain v. Cochran, 8 Pick. 522
BELKNAP V. BALL
(83 MICHIGAN, 683.) LIBEL – CRITICISM 18 DISCUSSION; or as applicable in libel onson, a consaro
of the conduct, character, or utterances of the person criticised. LIBEL – CRITICISM OF OFFICIAL CANDIDATE. – When one becomes a candidate
for public office, he thereby deliberately places his conduct, character, and atterances before the public for their discussion and consideration. They may be criticised according to the taste of the writer or speaker, and the law will protect them in so doing, provided their statements of or reference to the facts upon which their criticisms are based observe an honest regard for the truth. In such discussion the law gives a wide liberty. Within this limit public journals, public speakers, and private individ. uals may express opinions and indulge in criticisms upon the character
or habits or mental and moral qualifications of official candidates. LIBEL — FALSE STATEMENT OF UTTERANCES OF OFFICIAL CANDIDATE - A
false and malicious published statement that a candidate for public office gave utterance, either in writing or in speech, to certain language, im. plying his ignorance and unfitness for office, is neither privileged criti. cism nor expression of opinion, but is libelous. Such statement is a
stateinent of fact, for the falsity of which the publisher is answerable. LIBEL — FALSE STATEMENT OF UTTERANCES OF OFFICIAL CANDIDATE. — A
false and malicious publication in a newspaper, in a coarse and blotted imitation of the handwriting of a candidate for office, purporting to be a fac-simile of the words, “I don't propose to go into debate on the tariff differences on wool, quinine, and all the things, because I ain't built that way. — Charles E. Belknap.” or such publication of a report of a speech made by him in which he is made to give utterance to language
to the same effect, is libelous. LIBEL. — CHARACTER AND REPUTATION OF CANDIDATES for public office are
protected from malicious attack by the same rules as are those of private individuals. Greater latitude is allowed in the case of the former than
in the latter; and beyond this the same rule applies to both. LIBEL. — PUBLICATION OF FALSEHOOD IS NEVER PRIVILEGED. No publio
interest can be subserved by its publication and circulation. If false statements are published in good faith, with an honest belief of their truth, damages may be reduceil to a minimum. No other rule will pro tect the freedom of the press and the rights of individuals.
Taggart, Wolcott, and Ganson, and Butterfield and Keeney, for the appellant.
Blair, Kingsley, and Kleinhans, for the respondent.
Plaintiff was a candidate for election to the office of representative in Congress. The first count in the declaration, after the usual allegations as to the character of plaintiff and his reputation among his neighbors, alleges that the defendant falsuly, wickedly, and maliciously did compose, print, and publish, and cause to be composed, printed, and published, in the Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper having a large circulation in the district from which plaintiff was a candidate, and in other parts of the state, and also in the Weekly Democrat, the following libelous words:
“I don't propose to go into debate on the tariff differences on wool, quinine, and all the things, because I ain't built that way.
CHARLES E. BELKNAP." That said words were printed and published in a coarse and blotted imitation of the handwriting of the plaintiff, with certain of said words wrongly spelled and with an imitation of the genuine signature of the plaintiff below the words, thereby meaning that the plaintiff had written said words, and that they were written in the uncouth, blotted, and illy spelled form represented in the publication, and that said words as printed and published were a fac-simile of the words written and signed by the plaintiff.
The second count alleges that at a public meeting held in the city of Grand Rapids, plaintiff made a speech. The defamatory matter complained of is, that the defendant published in said paper a report of this speech, in which he said: “Mr. Belknap spoke first. He assured his neighbors that he was not there as a candidate begging for votes; .... that he would refrain from discussing the tariffs on wool, quinine, etc., because, as he said, he was n't built that way."
The innuendo is, that defendant meant by this language that plaintiff was too ignorant and imbecile to discuss said question, or to express in a decent way his intention not to discuss it.
The defendant demurred, and as causes of demurrer says: 1. That the declaration does not allege that in said publication there was anything touching or affecting the moral character or integrity of the plaintiff; but that said publications
are complained of only in that they are calculated to convey the impression that plaintiff was a stupid, ignorant, and illiterate man, and too ignorant to discuss the tariff question; 2. That no reflection or suspicion is alleged in the declaration to have been caused by the defendant upon the moral character, integrity, probity, and uprightness of the plaintiff; 3. That defendant was justified in publishing the articles complained of, because the plaintiff was a candidate for public office, and, in the absence of anything touching the moral character, integrity, probity, and uprightness of the plaintiff, the matter stated in the declaration, and the innuendoes therein drawn, do not set forth a cause of action.
The demurrer was sustained by the court below. The demurrer admits the truth of all material facts alleged in the declaration, and which are well pleaded. It is proper to consider, first, what these admitted facts are. They are, - 1. That the defendant published the statement; 2. That it was false and malicious, and done with the intention of injuring the plaintiff; 3. That defendant published the statement set forth in the first count in such a manner as naturally to induce the belief on the part of the reader that plaintiff actually wrote and subscribed the letter therein contained, and that in the second count the plaintiff actually used the words therein ascribed to him, and that they were published with the malicious intent to injure, and to induce the belief among the people that plaintiff was too ignorant to discuss the question of the tariff.
The gist of the argument on the part of the defendant is, that no moral obliquity, unsoundness of mind, impairment of natural faculties, mental or physical, is charged against the plaintiff; that neither his moral, social, nor religious educătion is attacked, but only his political and academical education; that nothing was published which, if entirely true or false, and believed, would prevent honest members of his own party from voting for him or constitute a reason or bar to his holding the office, if elected; that the alleged defamatory matter was within the domain of justifiable criticism, and is privileged, and therefore actionable malice will not be in. ferred, nor can it be predicated in law upon such criticisms or allegations.
I am not prepared to yield assent to the statement that all honest members of either political party would vote for a confessed ignoramus to represent them in Congress. The state