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Committee have considered that resolution and recommend its adoption.
The next standing committee is that on Judicial Administration and Remedial Procedure, of which Rufus King, of Ohio, is chairman.
Rufus King, of Ohio :
Two subjects were referred to this committee last year. The first relates to the subject brought forward by Judge Dillon two years ago, in respect to the evils, etc., in regard to the multiplicity of the reports of judicial decisions, which report I will first read.
(See Report, in the Appendix.)
On motion of Rufus King, the report was received and the resolution at the end of it adopted.
Rufus King :
I move the adoption of the resolution contained in that report.
N. W. Ladd, of Massachusetts :.
I question the advisability of putting upon record a statement made in that report, that this system has been adopted only in two states. Massachusetts has lately inaugurated a law upon that subject.
Henry Budd, of Pennsylvania :
The Committee on Legal Education is next in order. There seems to be no report. The Committee on Commercial Law is next.
George A. Mercer, of Georgia :
That committee desires to state that no special subject for report was referred to the committee at the last session, and in view of the large amount of special matter to be discussed at this meeting they have deemed it inexpeclient to make any report.
There is no report from that committee, as there was nothing referred to them to be reported upon.
The Committee on Grievances. There seems to be no report. The Committee on Publication.
H. C. Semple, of Alabama :
Before calling for reports of special committees, is it the pleasure of the meeting to take any action upon the proposed amendment to Article XIII of the By-Laws? Judge Poland moved its adoption. Is that motion seconded ?
C. C. Bonney, of Illinois :
A communication has been received from our absent Secretary in response to our message to him, which I will read :
“WARRENTON, VA., August 19, 1886. “WALTER GEORGE SMITH,
“Secretary, Putnam Hall: “It is very gratifying to me to receive your kind resolutions. My constant desire is that our meetings may continue to increase in usefulness and to become more and more agreeable socially.
EDWARD OTIS HINKLEY."
The next business is the special order—the discussion of the report of the Committee on Delays and lineertainty in Judicia! Administration.
David Dudley Field, of New York:
The report was presented yesterday; and I have nothing therefore to do but to move the adoption of the first resolution, simplr saying that that resolution was the only one that was la over from the last meeting and the one first considered in this report, and it is desirable that they should be kept distinet. Only two members of the committee are here, Judge Dillon and myself, and with your leave, Mr. President, and that of the Association, Judge Dillon will make a statement at the opening, and, if I am permitted, I will close the debate.
John F. Dillon, of New York:
The text of the resolution is this, and I think it important to refer to it at the outset, since the vote which will be given will be a vote upon this proposition as it stands. It is in these words: “ The law itself should be reduced, so far as possible, to the form of a statute"-only this and nothing more.
What cloes it mean? What law is here referred to? Evidently, of course, the law of the land. And what is the law of the land ? It is simply, when reduced to its last analysis, a com: mand, an imperative rule of conduct, prescribed in this country by the legislature. Therefore, every citizen, whether it be a rule of civil or criminal conduct, is bound to know what this command is and equally bound to obey it. It is implied in every command that it shall be known to whomsoever is expected to obey it. History has held up to reprobation Caligula, who is said to have framed his laws in such small characters, and to have hung them so high upon the pillars, that they could not be read, and it has been the practice from the beginning in this country that all laws which prescribe what I may term the civil rules for the conduct of the citizens, so far as penalties are annexed to them, should be reduced to the forin of a statute, and altogether so, I believe, in England. The reason, so far as criminal statutes are concerned, obviously is that they should be known and should be in a shape to be known by those whose obedience is expected. That being the nature of law, that being the law which is referred to in the resolution under consideration, viz., a command, whatever may be its form, prescribed by the supreme legislative authority to, and binding upon, every citizen, the next subject of inquiry is, Where is this law to be found which everyone is expected to know, and everyone at his peril is bound to obey? We all know where it is found. Fragmentary portions of it only are found in any statute. The great volume of our law, the great body of the rules of civil conduct which are obligatory upon every citizen in the community, are found in the volumes of our reports. These, as we all know, now numbering some six thousand volumes, run back through a series of centuries. I enter upon no eulogium of the nature of judiciary law. I only call attention to the fact that these six thousand volumes are, in the first place, full of obsolete law, or law which will be held to be obsolete when brought into direct adjudication before the courts. In the next place, these volumes are full of conflicting cases, or, if not absolutely conflicting, cases which have refined upon previous cases and introduced exceptions and limitations. In the next place they are full of cases of repetition, thousands of cases adding nothing substantially to the body of the law. Some learned gentleman has written three volumes on the statute of frauds. Does anyone doubt that a commission to do the work could take that vast volume of decisions, many of which are conflicting, many of which are spun to the greatest nicety of refinement, and reduce them to some practicable order ? Another difficulty with case-law, well known to the profession, is this—that since its development depends upon the accidents of litigation, upon the casual exigencies of litigation, it being a matter entirely accidental when such a point will will arise, it has had a very irregular and anomalous development Now, it is perfectly obvious to every lawyer that many principles of the law are perfectly settled. As we saw in the paper last evening, it was said that in Lord Bacon's time it was his judgment that it was not necessary any longer to report any more than the ultimate results or judgınent in many cases. Now, if in going through these many volumes of judiciary law we find a principle applicable to the civil conduct of men in the daily transactions of life, can any man give a substantial reason why that principle, clearly settled, with all its limitations and boundaries, cannot be put into writing, embodied in a statute, so that it may be accessible ? So that, I insist, if any principle of the law is well settled, so as to be capable of being clearly stated, as a mere matter of convenience, it is expedient that it should be reduced to the form of a statute.
When we come to other principles we find conflicting decisions, so that the law on any given point may be said to be uncertain or obscure. If such points are met with, shall it be left longer to the accidents of litigation to settle it, or is it not the better wisdom, if the clear rule which ought to be prescribed and to obtain in such a case can be known, to settle it? Therefore, it has always seemed to me that the argument in favor of more extensive legislation could be very clearly stated, namely, that what is settled can be put in the form of a statute, and what is obscure or doubtful ought to be. Now, why should it be reduced to the form of a statute ? One great reason is the unwieldy bulk to which our case-law has already attained, so as to make it more accessible. The want of convenience resulting from this bulk has come to be, as every lawyer knows, a positive evil. The report sets forth in detail some facts showing this, such as, for example, in one volume of New York Reports there were cited to the courts-probably the report not containing over one hundred cases—more than five thousand adjudged cases for its consideration.
Another reason why the law should be reduced to the form of a statute is to make it more certain and definite wherein it is now obscure or uncertain. Let us then recur to the