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59TH CONGRESS, HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. I REPORT 2d Session.
REVISION AND CODIFICATION OF LAWS, ETC.
JANUARY 10, 1907.-Referred to the House Calendar and ordered to be printed.
Mr. Moon, of Pennsylvania, from the Special Joint Committee on the
Revision of the Laws, submitted the following
[To accompany H. R. 23946.]
The House members of the Special Joint Committee on the Revision of the Laws, appointed under concurrent resolution No. 35, Fiftyninth Congress, first session, to examine, consider, and submit to Congress recommendations upon the revision and codification of laws prepared by the statutory revision commission, having had under consideration H. R. 17984, which was committed to it by resolution of January 7, 1907, and deeming it both necessary and expedient to make certain changes, additions, and omissions, reports in lieu thereof the accompanying bill and submits the following report thereon:
The Commission to revise and codify the laws was provided for by the act of June 4, 1897 (30 Stat. L., 58), but its authority under that act was expressly limited to the work of revising and codifying the criminal and penal laws of the United States.
The language of the act, so far as it relates to such Commission, is— That the President, with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint three Commissioners whose duty it shall be, under the direction of the Attorney-General, to revise and codify the criminal and penal laws of the United States.
That they shall proceed with their work as rapidly as may be consistent with thor-' oughness, and shall report the result of their labors to the Attorney-General when completed, to be by him laid before Congress, and shall make such other reports during the progress of their work as they shall see fit to the Attorney-General, to be laid before Congress at his discretion.
That their report shall be so made as to indicate any proposed change in the substance of existing law and shall be accompanied by notes which shall briefly and clearly state the reasons for any proposed change.
By the act of March 3, 1899, it was made the duty of the Commission to also revise and codify the judiciary act and the acts in amendment thereof, the provision imposing such additional duty being as follows:
It shall be the duty of the Commission appointed to revise and codify the criminal and penal laws of the United States, to revise and codify the laws concerning the jurisdiction and practice of the courts of the United States, including the judiciary act
, the acts in amendment thereof and supplementary thereto, and all acts providing for the removal, appeal, and transfer of causes.
On March 3, 1901, Congress again enlarged the duties of the Commission by the following provision embodied in the act making appropriations for sundry civil expenses for the year ending June 30, 1902:
That the Commission authorized by the act entitled "An act making appropriations for sundry civil expenses of the Government for the fiscal year ending June thirtieth, eighteen hundred and ninety-eight, and for other purposes," approved June fourth, eighteen hundred and ninety-seven, to revise and codily the criminal and penal laws of the United States, is hereby directed to revise and codify, in accordance with the terms and provisions of said act and the acts supplementary thereto, all laws of the United States of a permanent and general nature in force at the time when the same shall be reported.
That in performing this duty the said Commission shall bring together all statutes and parts of statutes relating to the same subjects, shall omit redundant and obsolete enactments, and shall make such alterations as may be necessary to reconcile the contradictions, supply the omissions, and amend the imperfections of the original text; and may propose and embody in such revisions changes in the substance of existing law; but all such changes shall be clearly set forth in an accompanying report, which shall briefly explain the reasons for the same.
That the said Commission shall arrange such revision under titles, chapters, and sections, or other suitable divisions and subdivisions with head notes briefly expressive of the matter contained in such division, and with marginal notes so drawn as to point to the contents of the text, and with references to the original text from which each section is compiled, and to the decisions of the courts of the United States explaining or construing the same; and shall provide by an index for an easy reference to every portion of such revision.
That when the Commission have completed such revision in accordance herewith it shall cause a copy of the same, in print, to be submitted to Congress, that the statutes so revised and codified may be reenacted if Congress shall so determine.
By the act of June 30, 1906 (Laws, 1905–6, pp. 754–755), the Commission was required to make its final report on or before December 15, 1906. The report was made to Congress at the present session and referred to this committee.
AMENDMENTS AND OMISSIONS-HOW INDICATED.
Your committee met and entered upon its work November 15, 1906, and continued until the opening of the present session of Congress. It again took up the work during the recess and has now completed its examination of the Penal Code prepared by the Commission and reports the same with such changes and corrections as have seemed to it proper and necessary. Your committee has carefully compared every section of existing law here reproduced with the original, and has considered and weighed with care every amendment, alteration, and addition.
The Commission construed the several acts of Congress defining its duties as authorizing it not only to revise and codify the existing laws, but to propose new legislation. It bas, therefore, included in its report a large number of new sections, reference to wbich is made in its report, but the new matter is not so printed that it can be readily distinguished from the old or existing statutes.
To obviate the inconvenience resulting from existing statutes and proposed new ones being printed in the same type, your committee has caused existing law to be printed in roman and such amendments and new sections as it has reported to be printed in italics, while sections which have been redrafted or from which material matter has been omitted or which have been formed by combining two or more different sections or provisions of existing law are inclosed in brackets.
The substitution of “whoever” for “every person who” is made simply to secure uniformity in style and is not indicated by italics or brackets.
Mere changes in phraseology to avoid repetition.or amend patent inaccuracies in the original text are not indicated by eitber brackets or italics.
For reason hereinafter stated the words “at hard labor,” minimum penalties, and the designation of offenses as misdemeanors or felonies have been onnitted pursuant to a policy approved by the committee, and as they are omitted throughout are not indicated by brackets or italics.
SCOPE OF BILL REPORTED.
The bill reported includes only the penal laws of the United States, or what may properly be termed the Criminal title,” embracing 343 sections, to be followed by other bills under their proper heads and titles, until the entire revision is completed.
Your committee in presenting the criminal title out of its regular order in the completed work of the revision was moved by several considerations which seemed to it to make this course preferable.
First. The permanent laws of the United States included in this revision comprise nearly 9,000 sections, and an attempt to enact them at one session and in one bill and to give them that critical consideration which such important legislation demands would necessitate a prolonged session of Congress and would so interfere with other work as to be impracticable.
Second. The criminal law is a separate and integral part of the general law. It is complete in itself and capable of almost entire separation therefrom.
Third. Congress has already established the order of importance of the various titles of this revision. The original act creating the Commission of Revision contemplated only the revision of the penal title. That act was passed in 1897, and the subsequent act directing the revision of all the laws was not passed until 1901; therefore the report of the Commission upon this was completed and first came before the committee for its consideration.
Of 174 new sections reported by the Commission under this title the committee recommends and has embodied in the bill reported herewith only 23, and of these but 13 create new offenses.
It is but just to the Commission and your committee as well to state that the refusal of the latter to recommend any particular section reported by the Commission creating a new offense should not be accepted as indicating opposition on its part to such legislation were it presented independent of the revision. On the contrary, it is the judgment of your committee that it would be wise to enact much of the new legislation recommended by the Commission which your committee has not felt at liberty to recommend in connection with the more important work of codification and revision lest it should retard or prevent its enactment.
Hence, while your committee fully recognizes the incompleteness of the existing criminal code and the numerous benefits that would result from the adoption of the more complete system framed by the
Commission, after careful deliberation it has decided against recommending to Congress sweeping changes, and has restricted its recommendations in favor of legislation creating new offenses to a few sections providing against acts and omissions which, in its judgment, so manifestly should be made criminal that consideration thereof will not prevent the adoption at the present session of the revised Penal
Your committee feels justified in saying that under this title it has
First. Brought together all statutes and parts of statutes relating to the same subject.
Second. Omitted redundant and obsolete enactments.
Third. Made such alterations as seemed necessary to reconcile the contradictions, supply the omissions, and amend the imperfections of the original text.
Fourth. Proposed and embodied in the revision such changes in the substance of existing law as in our judgment were necessary and advisable.
NEW LAW AND ADDITIONS TO EXISTING LAW.
Aside from the necessity of introducing occasional amendments in order “to supply omissions and amend the imperfections of the original text,” the committee has been influenced to insert additional provisions in a number of instances by the following considerations:
First. To so enlarge the statute as to provide against offenses frequently committed by the employment of devices and processes until recently unknown, and hence not prohibited by existing law.
Section 148 of the bill adding to existing law a provision punishing the counterfeiting of Government securities by the employment of lithographic processes is an illustration of this purpose.
Second. To provide for the punishment of certain offenses which in the experience of the departments have been found to be of frequent occurrence, but for the punishment of which there is at present no statute.
Section 222 of the bill, making it a penal offense to present a fraudulent claim for the loss of a registered letter, etc., is an illustration of new enactments under this head.
Third. The advantage of assembling under this title and making their violation penal, certain provisions in existing law. that are now merely directory, the strict observance of which is, nevertheless, important in the administration of government.
Section 170 of the bill forfeiting materials for counterfeiting is an illustration.
It is believed that on examination the proposed new sections will make clear the necessity for their enactment and that no further explanation of them is required.
The committee has recommended the enactment of 23 new sections, as follows:
OFFENSES AGAINST THE OPERATIONS OF THE GOVERNMENT.
Section 33: False acknowledgments.
OFFENSES AGAINST OFFICIAL DUTIES.
Section 104: Falsely certifying, etc., as to record of deeds, etc.
OFFENSES AGAINST PUBLIC JUSTICE.
Section 133: Juror or judicial officer, etc., accepting bribe.
OFFENSES AGAINST THE POSTAL SERVICE.
Section 222: False claims for registered letters, etc.
OFFENSES WITHIN THE ADMIRALTY AND MARITIME AND THE TERRITORIAL JURISDICTION
OF THE UNITED STATES. Section 266: Definitionis.
OFFENSES AGAINST THE PERSON.
Section 268: Manslaughter.
OFFENSES AGAINST PROPERTY.
Section 281: Burglary.
PIRACY AND OTHER OFFENSES UPON THE SEAS.
Section 310: “Vessels of the United States" defined.
CERTAIN OFFENSES IN THE TERRITORIES.
Section 322: “Territories" defined.
GENERAL AND SPECIAL PROVISIONS.
Section 335: Felonies and misdemeanors.
The classification adopted by your committee does not depart widely from that observed in the existing codification, yet it differs therefrom in some respects not wholly unimportant. The order in which the several chapters appear is distinctly different from the present arrangement. While these differences may not be deemed very, if at all, essential, it may be well to outline them and assign briefly our reasons for the departure. We give below the classification of offenses and arrangement of chapters, first, according to Revised Statutes, and second, in accordance with the plan we have adopted.