Bartle v. Nutt
29 U.S. 184 (1830)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Bartle v. Nutt, 29 U.S. 4 Pet. 184 184 (1830)

Bartle v. Nutt

29 U.S. (4 Pet.) 184

Syllabus

A contract was made for rebuilding Fort Washington, by M. a public agent, and a deputy quartermaster general, with B., in the profits of which M. was to participate. False measures of the work were attempted to be imposed on the government, the success of which was prevented by the vigilance of the accounting officers of the Treasury. A bill was filed to compel an alleged partner in the contract to account for and pay to one of the partners in the transaction, one half of the loss sustained in the execution of the contract.

Held that to state such a case is to decide it. Public morals, public justice, and the well established principles of all judicial tribunals alike forbid the interposition of courts of justice to lend their aid to purposes like this. To enforce a contract which began with the corruption of a public officer and progressed in the practice of known willful deception in its execution can never be approved or sanctioned by any court.

The law leaves the parties to such a contract as it found them. If either has sustained a loss by the bad faith of a particeps criminis, it is but a just infliction for premeditated and deeply practiced fraud. He must not expect that a judicial tribunal will degrade itself by an exertion of its powers to shift the loss from one to the other or to equalize the benefits or burdens which may have resulted from the violation of every principle of morals and of law.

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