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the cases have thus passed through consultation, it has been the purpose of the court to deliver a written opinion in every case involving the decision of a new question of law, or requiring a new application or modification of an old principle, and also in every case modifying or overruling a former decision, or construing a statute not previously construed. Many cases, from time to time, are reversed and remanded. As to these all agree that written direction to the lower court should accompany the procedendo. With respect to such of this class of cases as do not fall within some one of the requirements for a formal written opinion, it has been, and now is, the fixed rule of the court to bave the grounds of reversal recited in the face of the judgment, and, generally, a memorandum is filed with the record, to facilitate the preparation of that judgment. That, it seems to me, gives to the attorney and to the court below all necessary information about the disposition of the case in the Supreme Court. There is another class of cases in which written opinions have not been delivered. If as to this the court has pursued a wrong course, it has been mistaken both in its duty and in the convenience and necessity of the situation. To illustrate: A case comes from the chancery court at Nashville, decided by our brother now sitting on my right (Chancellor Allison). Argument is heard, the record is examined, and his decree is found to be correct. Affirmance follows. Decree to that effect is entered, and that is all there is of it, unless some legal question arising in the case, brings it within the rule already mentioned for formal written opinions. There are many such cases, depending for their decision upon plain and familiar principles. Written opinions in such cases could be of no practical service to the lawyer or any one else. It is said here, and I am a witness to the truthfulness of the statement, that the court sometimes announces, to the surprise of counsel engaged in argument at the bar, that a case or question similar to or identical with the one under discussion was decided at a former term of the court in an oral opinion; but, in such instances, the court only means that recognized rules and principles have been orally applied in the decision of the particular cases, and not that new principles have been evolved or new doctrines announced in oral opinions. When this is understood it need produce no confusion. Now, I believe we all desire the same thing—that which will be most beneficial to litigants, to the bar, and to the court. In my judgment the present methods are best calculated to secure that result. I think more is not desirable than that a written opinion be delivered when a new question is decided, a statute construed for the first time, some familiar principle limited or extended, some precedent modified or overruled. When this is done, and the necessary direction is given in cases reversed and remanded, all, in my judgment, is done that should be required of the court with reference to written opinions. A word as to the question of policy. Every lawyer knows that it takes as long, and frequently longer, to prepare a written opinion after reaching a conclusion in a case than it does to examine the case and reach the conclusion. The time required for the preparation of written opinions in cases where such opinions are not necessary is, under existing methods, saved to the bar and to litigants, and by the court put upon other cases, which could not be reached at all within the same period. Pursuing the course indicated, and working from fourteen to sixteen hours per day, six days in the week, the court has been able to bring the docket up, and to keep it up in each division of the State. With written opinions in every case, not half so many cases could be heard. [Applause.]
J. M. IIead.-I move that the oral opinion be published.
J. S. Pilcher.-I move to amend as follows: That we respectfully request the Supreme Court, in all cases decided by that court, except where there is a simple affirmance of the judgment or decree of the court below, to file memoranda of the points decided. Mr. Dickinson's amendment proposes that the court shall give the reasons for their conclusions. This requires the court to make an argument, which I do not think necessary. Let us leave off all reference to the writing of opinions at all, because it is presumed that, in all cases where it is necessary, the Supreme Court now writes opinions; and I think the Supreme Court should be defended against the imputation of placing a lawyer at a disadvantage while arguing a case by the announcement that " we have decided so and so in such and such unreported case." I can see how that will knock a lawyer off his feet. But, doubtless, in every such case the lawyer ought to know that the same point had already been decided in some published opinion. If the court had not thought that the point had been previously so decided, and that it was not a new point, they would have written an opinion in the case cited. Instead of being something that the lawyer cannot know, and is excused from not knowing, it is something that he ought to know thoroughly, it being so well settled that the Supreme Court had no necessity to reduce it to writing again. There is only one reason I can see why we might be benefited by written opinions where oral opinions are now delivered. Sometimes a lawyer, when asked for advice, concludes that he will advise so and so, but when he begins to write he finds that logic requires it to be written the other way. It is doubtless true that if the Supreme Court were to put all their opinions in writing some of them might be decided differently. Such instances occur so seldom that we had better not say any thing about them. It would be better to have one mistake in a thousand than to have written opinions in every case.
J. M. Dickinson.-I offered the resolution I did because I thought the recommendation of the committee was in a more objectionable form, and wanted to modify it; but since I have heard Judge Caldwell I think the resolution is unnecessary, and I ask leave of the Association to withdraw it. It is the property of the house, but it seems to me that after the policy of the court has been defined, the resolution would be unnecessary.
The resolution was withdrawn.
J. M. Dickinson.—I move to non-concur in the report of the committee.
SECOND DAY-MORNING SESSION.
The Association was called to order at 9:30 o'clock by President Pickle.
J. M. Dickinson.-I understand that Mr. Templeton has sent in his paper. I move that his report be heard, and discussion postponed, so that during its reading more of the audience may come in in time for Judge Lurton's address.
The Secretary read the report, which will be found elsewhere in connection with the discussion.
W. B. Reese.—The report was read and the discussion postponed in order to give the gentlemen from Chattanooga time to come in again.
The PRESIDENT.—They are absent, attending Judge Warder's funeral. Judge H. H. Lurton, of Nashville, will deliver the annual address.
Judge Lurton then read his address, entitled “Is the Trust Dangerous ?” (See Appendix.)
John Ruhm.--I would like to say a word as to a question of privilege. Owing to a defect in the United States Constitution, it does not allow foreign-born citizens to become President of the United States. I see that you all applaud the idea, which is a kind of know-nothing sentiment. I am deprived of aspiring to that office, but there are other offices open to meUnited States Senator, Governor of the State, or President of the Bar Association-and, not desiring to cut off entirely my prospects, I wish to place myself right, not before the Bar Association but before the public. In an evil moment, not re membering that every word spoken in this Association is taken down by a very skillful short-hand reporter, who, it is true, sometimes does not report exactly what we say, and gets us wrong in the papers, I was yesterday placed in a position which, if it could not be explained, would forever cut me off from aspiring to any of the desirable offices that I have mentioned.
I arrived here yesterday morning after traveling all night. Being very tired and not having had an opportunity of studying what in the better days of the Republic, when I used to study good English, I called a pro-gramme, but what since I have become contaminated by association with my friend Doak, with whom I am daily thrown, I call a pro-gram, I did not know what the proceedings were to be until some influential members, upon my entering the place, told me that I would be expected to open the discussion upon a paper to be read by somebody whose name I did not understand. I understood that the paper was on woman's suffrage and temperance, and they said, “Of course you are opposed to it, and we have put you in the front for opening the discussion on the paper.” I came in here, and a paper opened on a subject that I was entirely in sympathy with; but, lawyer as I am, I had to bite the sour apple, and attacked Judge Greer's position on the question that he so ably discussed, which was not woman's sufrage and was not temperance. I merely desire to say that I am the last man that would subscribe and adhere to a rule that would deprive the thinkers of the age from being received in a court of justice on a par at least with the criminals. In other words, I desire to set myself right on the question that was discussed. Of course I am in favor of the position that was taken by Judge Greer.
J. M. Dickinson.-I think I can throw a little light on the question. Mr. Ruhm was proud of the speech he made, but I think I heard a curtain lecture as he went out, and that changed his opinion.
THE PRESIDENT.—Gen. Luke E. Wright will read a biographical sketch of Judge Overton, written by Judge John M. Lea, of Nashville.
Luke E. Wright then read the paper. (See Appendix.)
THE PRESIDENT.–We will now have a paper by IIon. W. M. Baxter, Knoxville.
Mr. Baxter then read his paper, entitled “ The Law of Damages and Fellow-servants as Applied in Personal Injury Cases in Tennessee.” (See Appendix.)
THE PRESIDENT.—The paper is now before the Association for discussion and action.