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N.Y.U. Law Review



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Private adoption, constructive abandonment, Errol Flynn, Justice Hofstadter


Legislation designed to enable prompt judicial supervision of private adoptions was the most significant advance in domestic relations law this year. The legislature also subjected the contracts and earnings of infants engaged in professional activities to judicial control. Notable Court of Appeals decisions granted an annulment for constructive abandonment through refusal of sexual relations, denied an injunction against divorce proceedings in a foreign nation, and refused to abrogate the old rule against actions in tort by a child against his parent. Probably the most notorious case of the year was the action for debauchery brought by an eighteen-year-old plaintiff against the estate of the late Errol Flynn, whose exploits were apparently much more spectacular off the screen than on it. Correctly dismissing the action as one in the nature of "heart balm" relief, Justice Hofstadter unleashed an invective condemning the current "social malaise ... especially virulent in the area of entertainment," catering to "sadism and violence" and "adolescent eroticism," and suggesting that perhaps a remedy of social ostracism may have to be used where legal sanction proves insufficient."

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