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That the American Bar Association appreciates the high courtesy of Judge Dillon in dedicating to it the new edition of his great work, and expresses its appreciation of his courtesy and extends to him its very best wishes.
I move, sir, the adoption of this resolution.
I rise to second the resolution proposed by the gentleman from Georgia. We shall certainly do credit to ourselves and confer an honor upon the profession of the law by its adoption.
The resolution was adopted.
It now becomes my very pleasant duty to introduce the gentleman who is to deliver the Annual Address of this meeting, Augustus E. Willson, Governor of Kentucky.
Augustus E. Willson, Governor of Kentucky, then delivered the Annual Address.
(See the Appendix, page 410.) The President:
The next order of business is reports of standing committees. I call for that of the Committee on Jurisprudence and Law Reform.
P. W. Meldrim, of Georgia :
There were two matters referred to this committee—one relating to the service of jurors in the United States Courts, and the other in regard to peremptory challenge in those courts. The committee is ready to report, but there has been submitted to it a very exhaustive and able brief, and it is the opinion of the committee that instead of rendering its judgment before counsel on the other side has been heard, it is better to refer the report together with this brief to the incoming committee.
There being no objection, it will be so ordered. The next report is that of the Committee on Judicial Administration and Remedial Procedure.
Henry D. Estabrook, of New York:
There was referred to the committee at the last meeting of the Association the subject of Assimilation of Practice in Law and Equity in Federal Courts. Inasmuch as the special committee of fifteen is considering this subject among others, your committee has thought that no benefit would be derived from a special report, and have therefore not attempted to deal with the subject so referred to them, and will not, unless otherwise instructed.
There is another matter, however, which the special committee of fifteen has not considered in its report, but which in our opinion is quite as important as some of the questions which that committee has deliberated and passed upon.
As the law now stands, every case of sufficient pecuniary interest determined by the courts of the District of Columbia may be reviewed as of course in the Supreme Court of the United States. Your committee perceives no reason why greater rights should be accorded litigants in the District of Columbia than elsewhere in the United States, and it would expedite litigation and relieve the Supreme Court of the United States if the right of appeal to that court in the District of Columbia were allowed only in the same manner and under the same regulations and in the same cases as from the courts of the judicial circuits of the United States; and to this end your committee recommends that this subject also be referred to the special committee of fifteen with directions to urge upon Congress the passage of a bill, in substance as appended to our report.
The bill was then read.
I sent a copy of this bill to Attorney-General Wickersham, at the request of Secretary Knox, asking him to make such suggestions as might occur to him as desirable. I did not hear from Mr. Wickersham in time to avail myself of his ideas before I sent the manuscript of this report to the Secretary, but on the way here received a letter from the attorney-general, enclosing the manuscript of a proposed bill that is quite elaborate in its details. He states that it has been very carefully considered by his department, drafted under his supervision, and that it has the approval of the Administration. I have read the bill, and I do not see that it differs materially in effect from the shorter form of bill suggested by our report; but it does have the merit of having been prepared by the Department of Justice and approved by the Administration, and anything in the shape of a law that has the approval of the Administration not only deserves our respectful consideration, but our most profound gratitude.
Therefore, without reading the bill which the attorney-general sent me, unless so directed, I move the approval of the committee's report, and request that the entire subject matter be referred to the Special Committee of Fifteen, with instructions to consider and report upon the same.
The motion was seconded.
I am here in company with two other delegates from the Bar Association of the District of Columbia, charged with the responsibility of asking that this Association take no action upon this report in the direction suggested by the remarks of the Chairman of the committee. Within the time allowed by the rules of the Association it is impossible to inform the Association adequately of the peculiar conditions which obtain in the District of Columbia. It must, therefore, suffice to say that the right of appeal, which now exists in the District of Columbia, has existed ever since its organization as a community. Some eight years ago, when it became (as we thought) necessary to adopt a code of the law for the District of Columbia, this subject was very thoroughly threshed out before the Judiciary Committees of both houses of Congress, and was thoroughly discussed on the floors of both houses. The result was that the right of appeal as it now exists has passed into our code and is now there to be found. Never until this time has there since been any objection made against the continuance of the existing situation. We have in the District of Columbia a population of from 350,000 to 375,000; we have a very unique organization of our courts, we have a very unique community, and the experience of that community until now has not been such as to move Congress to take away from us our existing rights. Now and then a suggestion is made, but invariably we are able to meet it upon our own heath. We ask to be left to meet it there, and not to have opposed to us, when we are next called upon to meet anything of the sort, the force of action by the great and influential body known as the American Bar Association, composed of gentlemen from all over the union, who do not fully understand our situation, and who cannot on an occasion like this be made acquainted with it, and who we respectfully submit, ought not to attempt to hamper us in the maintenance of our rights by the adoption of such a report. I know it is said that the District of Columbia ought not to enjoy a privilege that is denied to the rest of the country. I think upon analysis it will be found that we do not have any privilege that is different from that which belongs to the rest of the country, because our organization is so different from the organization of the Circuit Courts and of the District Courts and of the country at large that there can be no parallel run between them. I know also that it is said that if this resolution which is here embodied in the report should ultimately become a law, we will have the same right of application for the writ of certiorari that all the judicial circuits have. That is merely so in appearance. It is perfectly well known to every body practicing before the Supreme Court of the United States that the writ of certiorari, I was going to say nine hundred and ninety-nine times in a thousand, is automatically self-denied in its application. It is also well known that the Supreme Court of the United States is astute not to consider favorably applications for this writ except in cases in which there may be involved some question of a sufficiently broad interest, so far as the Circuit Courts in general are concerned, to make it desirable for the court to lay down a rule which may be uniform. We cannot do that in the District of Columbia, and accordingly the argument that we stand upon the same footing with reference to the application of this writ has no application to us. Moreover, it must not be forgotten that the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia has the largest jurisdiction of all existing tribunals in the world today. It not only administers the common law, it not only administers the laws of Congress that are locally applicable to the District exclusively, it not only administers all the statutes of the United States which are not locally inapplicable to the District, but also it has all the povers of an English chancellor, it has all the powers in admiralty, and all the powers of the United States Circuit and District Courts. In a word, it has the largest jurisdiction known of men today; and I may say, without reflection upon any of the members of our present judiciary, they are not as a rule chosen from among us. They come to us honorably rewarded for their services elsewhere; but they are untrained in our law and untrained in our system. And they are the first to acknowledge that fact after a brief experience with us. We, therefore, have a very complex system, and we have one in which at times there is great danger, as the judges themselves frankly admit, of departure from the principles in accordance with which we have lived. It, therefore, is of great importance to us that we shall preserve this oversight of the Supreme Court of the United States, which sits upon our soil, which breathes our air, which has lived in the atmosphere of our institutions and knows our law and our system. To deprive an almost unprotected community of 375,000 people of the privilege which has been thus far freely preserved to them for all these years upon the report of a committee of this Association, with the vast strength of this Association behind it, seems to me and to my fellow delegates a wholly unnecessary performance, and, with very great deference, but with a confident appeal to the fairness of the Association, we ask that this report be not adopted.
Now one thing more. A great many of the cases that arise in our jurisdiction are cases in which a lone citizen is pitted against the whole body of the Administration of our government there at home. Those cases that go to the Supreme Court of the United States are large in number, and, while it is a fact that the Supreme Court of the United States may grant its writ of certiorari, I say with the greatest deference to that august body that the