I wonder how often Holmes cited SJC opinions he wrote

April 12th, 2013

For example, in Penn Coal, Holmes writes:

This is the case of a single private house. No doubt there is a public interest even in this, as there is in every purchase and sale and in all that happens within the commonwealth. Some existing rights may be modified even in such a case. Rideout v. Knox, 148 Mass. 368, 19 N. E. 390, 2 L. R. A. 81, 12 Am. St. Rep. 560. But usually in ordinary private affairs the public interest does not warrant much of this kind of interference. A source of damage to such a house is not a public nuisance even if similar damage is inflicted on others in different places. The damage is not common or public. Wesson v. Washburn Iron Co., 13 Allen (Mass.) 96, 103, 90 Am. Dec. 181.

Holmes wrote Rideout v. Knox for the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in 1889:

At common law, a man has a right to build a fence on his own land as high as he pleases, however much it may obstruct his neighbor’s light and air. And the limit up to which a man may impair his neighbor’s enjoyment of his estate by the mode of using his own is fixed by external standards only. Walker v. Cronin, 107 Mass. 555, 564; Chatfield v. Wilson, 28 Vt. 49;Phelps v. Nowlen, 72 N.Y. 39;Frazier v. Brown, 12 Ohio St. 294; MARTIN B., in Rawstron v. Taylor, 11 Exch. 369, 378, 384. See Benjamin v. Wheeler, 8 Gray, 409, 413. But it is plain that the right to use one’s property for the sole purpose of injuring others is not one of the immediate rights of ownership. It is not a right for the sake of which property is recognized by the law, but is only a more or less necessary incident of rights which are established for very different ends. It has been thought by respectable authorities **392 that even at common law the extent of a man’s rights in cases like the present might depend upon the motive with which he acted.

However, the second SJC opinion cited was authored in 1816.

That would be a fun test to check other opinions.