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Wednesday, August 29, 1900, 8 P. M. The President called the meeting to order. The President:
The Secretary reports that a number of new members have been proposed. New members were then elected.
(See List of New Members.) The President:
The first order of the evening is a paper by Richard M. Venable, of Maryland, on “Growth or Evolution of Law.” The Chair takes great pleasure in introducing Mr. Venable. Mr. Venable then read his paper.
(See the Appendix.) The President:
Before calling attention to the next paper, which is one of exceeding interest; the Chair will announce that the Committee on Publications will consist of the following gentlemen :
Charles Borcherling, of New Jersey.
I now take great pleasure in introducing Mr. Edward Avery
(See the Appendix.)
The Association then adjourned to Thursday morning at 10.30 o'clock.
Thursday, August 30, 1900, 10.30 A. M.
The President called the meeting to order.
The Secretary has some names of gentlemen who have been recommended by the General Council for election to membership in the Association, which he will now read. Additional new members were then elected.
(See List of New Members.) The Secretary:
The Association of Referees in Bankruptcy will hold a meeting this afternoon at three o'clock in the Club House adjoining and anyone interested is requested to attend.
It affords me very great pleasure, as I know it will be to the entire satisfaction of the members of the Association, to state that the Annual Address this year is to be upon a very important topic, the subject of the address being “The March of the Constitution,” and I take pleasure in introducing Mr. George R. Peck, of Chicago.
The Annual Address was then delivered by George R. Peck, of Chicago, Illinois.
(See the Appendix.) The President:
Before passing to the regular order the Chair will announce the following gentlemen to constitute the Committee on the Dinner:
Francis Rawle, of Pennsylvania.
William Wirt Howe, of Louisiana :
Mr. President, I would ask unanimous consent at this time to present the report of the committee appointed last year on the Celebration of “John Marshall Day.” Some of us are going away, and it is desired that this report may be printed this afternoon and, after being printed, distributed among the members of the Association.
Unanimous consent is asked for the purpose stated. Is there objection? The Chair hears none, and the report will be received.
Unanimous consent having been given, the report of the Special Committee on “John Marshall Day" was then read.
(See the Report in the Appendix.) The President:
The report will be received, printed and placed on file. What is the pleasure of the Association with reference to the several resolutions ? Shall they be considered together?
Spencer C. Doty, of New York :
I move that the report and resolutions contained in it be adopted as a whole.
Alexander New, of Missouri:
At the last meeting of the Association there was referred to this committee the subject of liability for torts committed upon the high seas, causing death. The committee has considered the subject, and its report has been printed and I presume it has come to the hands of all the members, and I therefore will not read the report which I have in my hand. Subsequently to the signing of this report and to the time when it was placed in the hands of the Secretary for printing, considerable correspondence took place between the committee and others interested in the subject, particularly with the Law Committee of the Maritime Association of New York, by whom several amendments to the pending bill were suggested. The terms of the reference to your committee covered only the subject of torts committed upon the high seas causing death. A bill is pending now in the House of Representatives and is in the hands of the Judiciary Committee of that body in relation to that subject, and that bill is confined in its terms to remedies for torts of that particular class.
Your committee, having appended to the report as it was printed a simple endorsement of the principle covered by the bill and an approval of it as it stands, desires to amend that resolution as it is now submitted to the Association to read as follows:
" Resolved, That in the judgment of this Association the ends of justice and the harmony of the law will be promoted by the incorporation of the principles of Lord Campbell's Act into the maritime law of the United States, and the Association expresses its approval and commendation of the general principle of House Bill No. 9197 now pending in Congress, designed to accomplish that purpose, with the suggestion ”— and this is the amendment—“ however, that it will be advisable to include in the bill, by amendment, vessels carrying freight, and injuries to property as well as to persons, and to omit the provision for jury trials if the proceeding shall be in admiralty.”
You will see by reference to the printed report that the bill, a copy of which is made part of the report, provides in general terms for the trial of causes by jury, and gives jurisdiction both in admiralty and in the circuit courts of the United States. It is the opinion of the committee that it would be a questionable policy to introduce in this way the innovation of jury trials in admiralty proceedings, inasmuch as the bill itself gives jurisdiction both to the circuit courts and to the district courts sitting in admirality. It puts it within the power of a claimant to have a jury trial if he wishes it by bringing his suit in the circuit court.
The committee beg leave to submit the amended resolution to the judgment of the Association.
The report of the committee being received and printed will be filed, and the question comes on the resolution as amended by the committee. What is the pleasure of the Association with reference to it?
Edward A. Harriman, of Illinois :
I move that it be amended by adding also a proviso shortening the period of limitation. You will observe that the period of limitation as prescribed in the act is five years and it applies to actions in rem and in personam. I do not know any class of causes where evidence is more liable to be quickly lost than the evidence of seamen on vessels which change their crews on almost every trip. Therefore, even as between the original parties, it seems to me that the five year limitation prescribed by the act is too long. Even in the original personal actions which had their rise in Lord Campbell's Act, the limitation was only twelve months; and yet this bill makes a limitation of five years, not only in actions in personam, and not only in jury actions, but even in actions in rem. Now the effect of that is to keep a secret lien alive for five years even against an innocent purchaser, and it does not permit that purchaser to set up in defence the doctrine of staleness as ordinarily administered in an admiralty court.
I am in entire sympathy with the main purpose of the bill to introduce the principles of Lord Campbell's Act into the maritime jurisdiction, but I do think that when the effect of this act is to create a secret lien in rem the limitation of five years is too long and as against the innocent purchaser it will have a very serious effect.