« PoprzedniaDalej »
mind's eye one incident, which needs explanation from the justices. The statute allows special motions before a judge at chambers, in conformity with rules to be prescribed by the court, with the same effect as if made in open court. If a motion be made in court, no fee is known; but when at chambers, a justice gets one dollar for each order, in pursuance thereof. The court have made a rule, that all ordinary motions may be made in court, or before a judge at chambers ; and that when made before a judge, they may be brought on upon notice to the adverse party, or by an order to show cause, at the election of the party making them. The practice of procuring an alternative order in the first instance, instead of serving a notice, is of course adopted; since the attorney moving thereby gets more fees, and will act for his own interest. Consequently the judge gets a dollar for the alternative order, and another dollar for the final order; whereas on a notice, he would get for the whole only one dollar. Some thousands of orders in a year have some influence on fees. The notice is in every respect as useful, save that shorter time of service is desired than is allowed on notice. Still the rule allows the party to use the order in any case, whether
necessary or not. This should be altered. Let this court awake to a proper sense of their trust, and the interest the public have in their doings. Let each justice act and decide for himself
, according to the dictates of his own understanding, and not implicitly assent to the conclusions of any opinionated, though learned, compeer. Let prompt and expeditious decisions, without writing or reading long opinions, be adopted, and the responsibility and usefulness of the court will be greatly enhanced.
IV. The court of common pleas for the city and county of New-York is degraded by the same vicious system of fees and practice upon motions, to which, in our remarks upon the superior court, we had occasion to allude. Still, it has been, by far, the most useful, because most efficient tribunal in the city. Under the late learned and worthy first judge, the lamented John T. IRVING, this court was elevated, in a brief period, from the petty consideration of like courts in other counties, to a rank and dignity, in the estimation of the profession, unequalled by the superior court, and was and is justly considered the only tolerably efficient court, for the despatch of business, in the city. Without disparagement to the present bench, all practitioners will admit, that the vacancy of Judge Irving is not fully supplied. Yet the talents of the present judges are respectable, and their zeal and assiduity commendable. The calendars of this court were very large, having, for a year past been not less than four or five hundred. Still, the number of litigated causes actually disposed of, the past year in it, is probably more than double the number consummated in the superior court, and four times the number perfected in the circuit court, within the same time. Nevertheless, this court has not done all it might do, to clear out the old cau. ses. It might open at nine o'clock instead of eleven, and hold afternoon if not evening sessions, every day, till the calendar be cleared. There is no neressity, and certainly no propriety, that a cause, ready for trial, should go over five or six terms before it can be reached. Let the judges apply a little more nerve to them - firmness, promptitude, and dignity and hold court more hours in a day, and they
will soon find themselves relieved from the weight of heavy calendars, and be able to try every cause at the first term it shall be noticed.
In each of the above-mentioned courts for the trial of causes, great disorder and confusion usually prevail ; insomuch that a stranger, on entering court, often supposes none in session, until, making his way through the crowd of witnesses and suitors outside, and of lawyers inside the bar, up to the bench, he discovers a judge there, with probably half a dozen lawyers, leaning over the bench, talking in his ear, occasionally presenting orders for him to sign, paying him his fees therefor, and transacting other chamber business; in the mean while, the clerk is perhaps drawing a jury, taking inquests, and the like formal, unnecessary, and therefore undignified, occupations; while some forty to fifty attorneys and counsellors are standing up conversing within, and a humming shuffle pervades all the bar. This arises, greatly, from the fault of the city authorities, in not providing suitable seats and tables for members of the bar; there being but a small, contracted table in each court room, on which to transact business; partly from the eagerness of the profession to press through the crowd to despatch their business; partly from the fault of the law, in allowing the judge to meddle with any chamber business, and requiring senseless routines of forms to reopen court; but, more than all, from the fault of the court, in not holding with a firmer hand the reins of order, industry, and dignity. We can well imagine that an English barrister, accustomed to the dignified proceedings in British courts, where perhaps too much attention is paid to orderly form and ceremony, would hold in low estimation the tribunals of this country; an estimate altogether incorrect, except in relation to these particular courts ; and, in some respects, erroneous as to them. He would most assuredly underrate the real talents and worth of some if not all of our judges.
The above view of this subject is indeed humiliating, but it is true; and on these matters, the longer the truth is attempted to be suppressed, the worse it is for us. Let the public examine for themselves, probe well the evils, and see where they lie. Let the legislature scan the laws, and their practical effects, and apply the proper legislative remedies; above all, let the judges study for themselves, and endeavor to do the best they can with the laws as they find them ; at all events, let them elevate the dignity and increase the energy and efficiency of their respective courts.
We have thus taken a rapid view of our subject, as we must necessarily do, to bring it within moderate limits. These observations are but a small moiety of what suggested themselves to us, as we glanced onward, and may, no doubt, suggest themselves to every independent, experienced practitioner. Let us hope, however, that they will prove sufficient to awaken the people, their legislature, and the courts themselves, to the importance of the theme ; and if so, we shall be amply rewarded for our labor. Notwithstanding all these defects, we still entertain the highest respect for the noble principles of the law, a very favorable opinion of the general ability and usefulness of the legal profession, and a firm conviction that our courts of justice, however badly conducted, are the only safe reliance for the protection of our rights; and that, so far from
being treated with contempt or derision, their failings should be looked upon with every degree of allowance, and every effort be made to aid them, in all laudable endeavors to impart useful form amd vigor to the administration of the law. May they, one and all, arouse from their lethargy, redouble their vigor, and rival each other in industry and perseverance, till the law's delay shall no longer arise from lack of despatch in those courts, and villany no more elude the pursuit of justice.
THE GOVERNOR'S VISIT TO JEMAICO.
BY THE AUTHOR OF THE KUSHOW PROPERTY.'
In the summer of 1703, an infectious fever raged violently in the city of New-York. The inhabitants fled into the adjacent country, which was not very distant from where the Bowling Green now is. On that pleasant eminence now called Leonard-street, many of them snuffed the pure air with the delighted eagerness of citizens, while the children rambled amid fields of clover, safe from the prevailing disease. Those low-eaved mansions, with their trees and shrubbery, those fragrant meadows, and well-cultured gardens, which were the homes of thrifty farmers, and afforded so secure a retreat, the very hillsides they were wont to clamber, are gone. Commerce has wrought out its wonderful results, and luxury has followed in its train, putting to blush, with her 'ivory palaces,' the abodes of elder time. * Upon that very spot, you behold an interminable Babel of bricks and mortar, and the breezes which play there now, are impregnated with other odors than those of Araby.
Among other persons of distinction, who fled from town, was Lord CORNBURY, the then Governor of the Province. We gather nothing from history very favorable to this man's character. He swayed his delegated authority with a high hand, and proved little acceptable to the mass of his subjects. Haughty and tyrannical in disposition, he rode over the necks of the people, and cared less about subserving the ends of justice, than of returning home rich with the spoils of extortion.
When the infection broke out, he was not slow to flee from the post of danger ; but for reasons known to himself, did not choose to reside in the vicinity of the city. Probably the true cause was, that he wished to get as far as possible from the presence of those by whom he knew himself to be justly hated. Getting in his barge, however, he crossed the East River to Long-Island, and proceeded thence directly with his family and suite, twelve miles, to the rural village of Jemaico. This plantation' was likely to suit him, as well for its health and privacy, as for its nearness to the ocean.
So signal an event as the arrival of the governor, created of course a great stir in a small community. From the Big Plains to the Beaver Pond, the people became informed of it, as by the blast of a trumpet. They put on their Sunday clothes, and in all the pomp and pride of their finery, rushed with one accord to witness the entrée. All ages, sexes, and conditions, were present; the laughter-loving negro, and the Indians of the Rockaway tribe, who came pouring down from their wigwams in the hills, with their blankets, gewgaws, and painted faces, to look upon the representative of their great father, the King of England. The governor arrived late in the afternoon of the fourth of July, a day not as yet sacred in the annals of a free people.
One would suppose that a benevolent viceroy would delight in making such a visitation an occasion of rejoicing, and an era to be
long remembered; that he would render his presence acceptable to his subjects, without any compromise of dignity; shedding his condescending smiles upon the humble, and diffusing gladness among all. Lord Cornbury, however, scarcely permitted those to look at him who had come to do him homage. He walked with stately step into the apartments prepared for him, whence he did not emerge during the rest of the day; while without, his liveried attendants harshly repulsed the crowd which gathered around his carriage, too eagerly admiring its gilded trappings, and the emblazoned arms upon its pannels.
Several days elapsed, before the bustle occasioned by his arrival had subsided, and during all that time, the only question asked or answered was, • Have you seen the Governor?' His person, voice, and general bearing; bis attendants, his horses, and his carriages; formed the never-failing topics of conversation in the farm-house. All agreed unanimously, that he was an elegant gentleman,' but he was so distant and inaccessible, that they regarded him with a certain awe, and failed not to interpret something scornful in his lordship’s counte
They foresaw, however, that his stay in the country would not be without its advantages, for all places in the vicinity were put in requisition to supply his lordship’s table. The little plains provided him with plover, and the bay of Jemaico with fish; and the swamps with woodcock, and the well-cultivated farms with all the delicacies of the season. But the wily farmers turned the tables upon the governor, during this summer campaign; for if they brought him the fattest of the poultry, and their most delicious fruits, it must be admitted that they made him pay for it. It was a maxim with some of them, which they have handed down to their posterity, that there is no harm in fleecing a rich man, and that he may as well pay double what a thing is worth, as not.' His lordship had no right to complain of such a doctrine.
There was but one person in the community, who was fitted, by birth or education, to be 'hand-in-glove' with the governor, or who exchanged with him the civilities of the table. This was Sir Charles who lived in a style somewhat magnificent for that neighborhood. His mansion, adorned with busts and paintings, and the dim portraits of a gentle ancestry, bespoke the man of liberal taste and ainple fortune. Yet was he mild and benevolent in his nature, and sitting in his library, the retreat of his old age, acted as the umpire of all disputes in the community. He was withal a zealous churchman, and a loyal subject of his king.
The Sunday after the governor's arrival was one of those sweet days described by the temple poet :
so clear, so calın, so bright,
The bridal of the earth and sky.' The sereneness of a Sabbath in the country, during those Puritan times, may be best conceived of, by describing that of the NewEngland village. When the sun rises on that day which the Lord hath made,' and of which he calls the hours his own,' all sounds are hushed into a religious stillness. The hum of business has ceased, and the voice of laughter and merriment. The plough stands still