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Commonwealth v. Pouliot

292 Mass. 229, 198 N.E. 256 (1935)

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Commonwealth v. Pouliot

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court

292 Mass. 229, 198 N.E. 256 (1935)

Facts

Louis Pouliot (defendant), who had a wife and six minor children, was physically able to work but unable to find employment. Pouliot’s city offered welfare aid on the condition that the recipient make himself available to the local public-works department for work, although there was no additional compensation. Pouliot refused, expressing a preference to work for a definite rate of compensation. The state (plaintiff) charged Pouliot with criminal nonsupport of his family. Pouliot argued that a conviction would violate the prohibition against involuntary servitude in the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The trial court found Pouliot guilty. Pouliot appealed. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Rugg, C.J.)

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