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State v. Shack

Todd Berman

InstructorTodd Berman

CaseCast "What you need to know"

CaseCast –  "What you need to know"

State v. Shack

Citation. 58 N.J. 297, 277 A.2d 369, 1971 N.J. 77 L.R.R.M. 2408.
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Brief Fact Summary.

Two men entered private land in order to aid migrant farmworkers. The owner asked them to leave, but they refused. The men were charged with trespass.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

Trespass does not include a situation where representatives of recognized charitable groups enter private land in order to provide government aid to those workers who need it.


One defendant is a field worker for a nonprofit corporation that provided for the health services of migrant farm workers. Another defendant is an attorney for a nonprofit corporation that provides legal advice and representation for these workers. The two defendants went to the farm of the plaintiff, who confronted them at the entrance. The plaintiff offered to bring both men to his office, but the defendants wanted to see the men in their living quarters outside the supervision of the plaintiff. The plaintiff summoned a state trooper, and the defendants were charged with trespass.


Does trespass on real property include the right to bar access to governmental services available to migrant workers?


No. Judgment reversed.
Title to real property does not include control over the destiny of people the owner permits to come onto his premises. Their well-being is the paramount concern of the law. In fact, the government created the two nonprofit corporations that the defendants belong to in order to be of service to migrant farm workers.
Migrant farm workers are unaware of their rights and the opportunities available to them, and so can only be reached by the effort of others.
A person’s right to his real property is not absolute. Private or public necessity may justify entering onto his land.
There is no need for a farmer to deny his worker the change to receive aid from government services or charity groups, so representatives from those groups may enter the land and see the worker in his living place.
Though an employer of migrant farm workers may reasonably require the visitors of his employees to identify themselves, the employer may not deny the worker his privacy or interfere with his opportunity to live with dignity and to enjoy associations customary among our citizens.


Nonowners may enter onto an owner’s property in order to provide governmental services, even if the owner objects to the entry.

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