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Obstructing the Administration of Justice or Violating a Public Duty

15 January, 2016 - 09:33

It is well established under common law that contracts that would interfere with the administration of justice or that call upon a public official to violate a public duty are void and unenforceable. Examples of such contracts are numerous: to conceal or compound a crime, to pay for the testimony of a witness in court contingent on the court’s ruling, to suppress evidence by paying a witness to leave the state, or to destroy documents. Thus, in an unedifying case in Arkansas, a gambler sued a circuit court judge to recover $1,675 allegedly paid to the judge as protection money, and the Arkansas Supreme Court affirmed the dismissal of the suit, holding, “The law will not aid either party to the alleged illegal and void contract…‘but will leave them where it finds them, if they have been equally cognizant of the illegality.’” 1 Also in this category are bribes, agreements to obstruct or delay justice (jury tampering, abuse of the legal process), and the like.