Page images
PDF
EPUB

PROCEEDINGS.

purpose and under a necessity of packing up and moving somewhere else in a short time, and the probabilities are that his action will be hasty and tinctured with error. As a rule, a man while traveling is not much given to reflection or contemplation. As Judge Magruder truly and strikingly says, 'deliberation is not a concomitant of rapid motion. When the rights of men and communities are being considered, the atmosphere should be one of calmness; all the conditions should be favorable to quiet reflection; the influences which conduce to haste and hurry, should be banished.'

"The Supreme Court is distinctly a tribunal of review. It possesses but little original jurisdiction and is rarely called upon to exercise

It sits in judgment upon the records of the trial courts, and determines, or should determine, whether or not they are free from substantial error. Its members do not claim individually to be wiser or more learned in the law than the Judge before whom the cause was tried. The theory is (and it is an eminently sound and correct one) that their collective wisdom and learning shall be applied as a corrective to hurtful mistakes that may have deflected the true course of justice in the frequent hurry and confusion of the trial proceedings. The calm contemplation and judicial serenity which may have been wanting in the court below, should unerringly be found in the court above. By mutual suggestion and discussion, by consultation and comparison of views, seven men acting as a body may well attain more correct results than the one man who instead of looking at a record already made up, has himself very largely helped to make it.

it.

"It is idle to expect that such duties can be in all instances properly or effectively discharged when the men that are to discharge them are most of the time miles and miles away from each other, when during the time that they are together the work of a year is compressed into a few weeks, and they themselves are constantly on the jump, always moving in or moving out, here to-day, there to-morrow. Those whose business it is to consult and confer should not be separated by long distances. They should be within easy reach of one another, and ready to meet upon short notice to take united and concerted action in all matters pertaining to their functions.

Is it surprising, things being what they are, that there sometimes should be conflict between the decisions, and that the opinions themselves do not always display that logical force, consistency of reasoning, compactness of expression, chasteness of diction and literary finish which characterize the utterances of courts more favorably circumstanced than ours?"

PROCEEDINGS.

We are told that the Judges are just as anxious since the consolidation as they were before, to return to their respective homes; that each Judge takes with him the records of the cases assigned to him and while alone, and in the absence of the other Judges, studies these, arrives at his conclusions and prepares the opinions, without any opportunity in the meantime of conferring with the other Judges.

While we realize, of course, that the opinion in a particular case will be written by a single Judge, still it should in every sense be the opinion of the full bench, and every point decided by the opinion should be the decision not of a single Judge but of the whole court. This is the only way of securing for the opinions of the highest judicial tribunal of the third largest State in the Union the unquestioned soundness that they ought to have and the eminence and respect which they rightfully ought to possess. It has often been remarked that the constant conferences of the Judges of the Supreme Court of the United States, touching the cases before them, and the careful deliberation of the full bench upon these cases before the opinions are written, is what gives to their decisions an additional value, aside from the fact that they are the judgments of the highest court in the land.

In the discussion following the reading of Judge Stein's paper, Mr. Merritt Starr read some extracts from Judge John F. Dillon's lectures on the Laws of Jurisprudence of England and America, which are well worthy of repetition at this time. He says: “The character of many recent American reports has deteriorated from several causes. To two of these I shall now allude because they arise from mistaken views and practices of the Judges the mselves, and are, therefore, readily remediable.

"Most of our Appellate Courts are crowded with causes, and the effect upon the Judges is that they too often feel it to be an everpressing, paramount, all-absorbing duty to clear the docket. This mistakenly becomes the chief object to be attained-the primary, instead of a quite subordinate, consideration. In the accomplishment of this end, the Judges are as impatient of delay as was the wedding guest in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Added to this, a majority of the Appellate Judges generally reside elsewhere than at the capital or place where the courts are held, and the desire is constantly felt to bring a laborious session to an end as speedily as possible, in order that they may rejoin their families and do their work in the fatigue-dress of their libraries, rather than under the necessary restraints of the term. They begrudge the time necessary for full argument at the bar. They dislike to hear counsel at length. They prefer to receive briefs. As a result, two practices have grown up too generally throughout the

PROCEEDINGS.

country, which have, as I think, done more to impair the value of judicial judgments and opinions than perhaps all other causes combined.

“The first is that the submission of causes upon printed briefs is favored, and oral arguments at the bar are discouraged, and the time allowed therefor is usually inadequate."

And after dilating upon the great advantages of oral argument and its necessity for the purpose of securing clear, correct and wise decisions, Judge Dillon continues: “The other practice among some, I fear many, of our Appellate Courts which injuriously affects our case -law is the practice of assigning the record of causes submitted on printed arguments to one of the Judges to look into and write an opinion, without a previous examination of the record and arguments by the Judges in consultation.

"This course ought to be forbidden, peremptorily forbidden, by statute. What is the most difficult function of an Appellate Court? It is, as I think, after the record is fully opened and the argument understood, to determine precisely upon what point or points the judgment of the case ought to rest. This most delicate and important of all judicial duties ought always to be performed by the Judges in full conference before the record is delivered to one of their number to write the opinion of the court; which, when written, should be confined to the precise grounds thus predetermined. In respect to oral arguments, the time allowed therefore, the willingness to hear counsel and full conferences among the judges in the presence of each other prior to decision or assigning the record to a Judge to write the opinion, the Supreme Court of the United States is a model for every Appellate tribunal in the country.”

These extracts from the records of our Association point out, we believe, the views of our members and the evils which they thought would be avoided through the passage of the consolidation act. Our hopes have not been entirely fulfilled. We have located the Supreme Court at one place and the benefits of this are surely apparent, but we have not yet succeeded in consolidating the court. And we shall not succeed in consolidating it and in giving the people of this State the advantage in each case of its consideration by the full bench, until we persuade the Judges to make their home and work together at Springfield, or allow the Legislature to devise some method of accomplishing this There is no reason, however, to our minds, why the Legislature should be appealed to. We fail to see why the judges themselves cannot inaugurate a new system, and during the terms that

PROCEEDINGS.

the court is in session, work together, not only while listening to oral argument but also while passing judgment upon records.

By the Act approved June 11, 1897, the salary of the Supreme Court Judges thereafter elected was increased to $7,000. By the Act approved April 17, 1899, each of the Judges is allowed to appoint a private secretary, at a salary of $2,000 per annum. While the salary of the Judges is not what we conceive it ought to be, and is not commensurate with the great importance of the office, the ability demanded, nor the arduous labors to be performed by the Judges, yet we regard it as sufficient to enable them to spend more time at Springfield, and considering that this was one of the purposes of increasing the salaries, the Judges ought to act accordingly, we have no doubt that it will result in inconvenience to individual Judges, but the members of our Supreme Court must bear in mind that the people in electing them to the highest judicial office in this State, have the right to expect that the judges will place themselves into that situation in which they can best serve the public and most wisely and effectively administer their trust.

In conclusion, we recommend that a committee of five be appointed by the President of the Association, to present a memorial to the Judges of the Supreme Court on this subject, or to take such other action in the premises as may appear most expedient, with the end in view of securing consolidation not only in theory but in fact, of the Supreme Court of the State of Illinois.

FRANK H. SCOTT,

Chairman.
LESSING ROSENTHAL,

JAMES C. COURTNEY, VICE PRESIDENT Woop: Gentlemen, you have heard the report of the committee, what action does the Association desire to take upon it?

MR. ZEISLER: I move it be adopted.
MR. SHERMAN: And its recommendations.
Which motion was seconded and carried.

MR. STEVENS: I desire to present a minority or dissent ing report on the subject of Judicial Administration.

Report read as follows:
To the President and Members of the Illinois State Bar Association:

GENTLEMEN: As a member of the Committee on Judicial Administration, I cannot approve the report of a majority of that committee, as read, and dissent from it for the following reasons:

PROCEEDINGS.

First. It does not, according to my information, state the fact with reference to the method adopted by the Supreme Court in the consideration and decision of causes.

Second. Because, in my judgment, the Supreme Judges have a right to prepare and write opinions at any place they may see fit.

Third. I do not understand that the Supreme Court discourages oral argument, or that it has adopted any rules preventing attorneys from making oral arguments, in all proper cases. I have found the court not only ready and willing, but anxious to hear oral arguments, where any light could be thrown upon the subject by the attorneys, in addition to what was contained in his printed brief and argument. In my judgment, the criticisms of the Supreme Court contained in the report, are not just and well founded. I cannot concur in the assumption of facts therein stated, or in the language used, and therefore declined to sign such report, and now briefly present my reasons therefor.

Respectfully submitted,

J. S. STEVENS, Member of the Committee on Judicial Administration. VICE PRESIDENT Wood: The Chair will call for the supplemental report of the Committee on Memorial to the Supreme Court on Admissions to the Bar; Mr. Julius Rosenthal is recognized.

Report read as follows: To the Honorable the President and Members of the Illinois State Bar

Association.

Since the elaborate report to this Association by the Committee ou Admission, published in last year's proceedings, several occurrences have taken place, of great interest and importance in the history of admission to the bar in this State, and worthy to be chronicled as a sequel to the said former report.

An Act was passed by our Legislature at its last session, (Session Laws, 1899, page 81), which contained in substance the following provisions:

First.-Applicants who commenced their study prior to Norember 4, 1897, and continued it for tuo school years' courses of study, consisting of thirty-six weeks each, in a law school of this State, shall be admitted upon diploma of such law school up to December 31, 1899, which diploma shall be received by the Supreme Court of this State and a license of admission to practice "shall” thereupon be granted by the court to the holder of such diploma.

« PreviousContinue »