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Congress accepted a bequest of $250,000, made by Gen. Geo. W. Cullom for the erection of a memorial hall at West Point. Said hall is to be a receptacle of statues, busts, mural tablets, and portraits of distinguished and deceased officers and graduates of the military academy; of paintings of battle-scenes, trophies of war, and such other objects as may tend to give elevation to the military profession. (Chapter 237.)
It is to be hoped that in selecting the statues, busts, portraits, etc., the authorities in charge will know “no North, no South, no East, no West."
The Articles of War were amended so as to provide that each member of a court-martial shall take a prescribed oath. Whenever a court-martial shall sit in closed session, the judgeadvocate is required to withdraw; and, when his legal advice or assistance in referring to recorded evidence is required, it must be obtained in open court. No sentence of a court-martial shall be carried into execution until the eame shall have been approved by the officer ordering the court or by the officer commanding for the time being. (Chapter 272.)
An act to enforce reciprocal commercial relations between the United States and Canada, provides that whenever the President shall be satisfied that the passage through any canal or lock connected with the navigation of the St. Lawrence River, the great lakes, or the water-ways connecting the same, of any vessels of the United States or of cargoes of passengers in transit to any part of the United States, is prohibited or made burdensome by the imposition of tolls, or otherwise, he may, by way of retaliation, suspend or prohibit the right of free passage through the Saint Mary's Falls Canal, so far as it relates to vessels owned by subjects of the government so discriminating against the citizens, ports, or vessels of the United States. (Chapter 248.)
Congress appropriated five millions of souvenir half-dollars
to the World's Columbian Exposition, for the purpose of aiding in defraying the cost of completing the work of preparation for inaugurating said exposition.
Congress also appropriated $103,000, to be used in preparing certain bronze medals, and certain diplomas, to be awarded to exhibitors at said exposition. The fourth section of the act expressly declares “ that all appropriations herein made for, or pertaining to, the World's Columbian Exposition, are upou condition that the said exposition shall not be opened to the public on the first day of the week, commonly called Sunday,” etc.
Without discussing the religious aspect of “Sunday opening,” every American citizen must feel dishonored and disgraced by the monumental act of bad faith perpetrated by the World's Columbian Exposition, in the presence of the invited nations of the earth. And every American lawyer must regret that the “strong arm of equity” was not strong enough to enjoin the commission of an act which is in flagrant violation of the express condition upon which nearly three millions of dollars were fraudulently obtained from the tax-payers of this country. (Chapter 381.)
Congress, by joint resolution, invited the king and queen of Spain, and the descendants of Columbus, to participate in the World's Columbian Exposition. The king and queen accepted the invitation, and were represented by the Infanta Eulalie. The descendants of Columbus were represented by the Duke of Veragua. They were received as the guests of the nation, and were entertained in a manner highly creditable to our people. The uncrowned sovereigns of America demonstrated to the world that they can extend to royalty the respect due from one sovereign to another without surrendering their own selfrespect.
REFORMS NEEDED IN OUR CHANCERY PRACTICE,
HENRY R. GIBSON.
The practice in our Courts of Chancery was adopted before the days of railroads and telegraphs and fast mails, and at a time when, in most of our counties, there were few or no resident lawyers. In consequence, the practice was adapted to the convenience of non-resident attorneys and to the exigencies of the circuit practice. Nearly all the work done by lawyers in those days was done during court week, and was, therefore, necessarily done in a hurried and imperfect manner, the main object being to make an issue with the least circumlocution, and to obtain all desired delays.
Brevity in pleading and simplicity in practice were two of the good results of this state of affairs, the bar having no time to elaborate their pleadings, and no adequate opportunity to fully carry out the English equity practice. With this brevity in pleading and this simplicity in practice, I have no disposition to interfere ; but there are certain old statutes which tend to clog business in our Chancery Courts, and there are needed certain amendments to our statutes in order to facilitate the preparation of causes for final hearing. To these statutes and amendments I will briefly call your attention:
First.-All subpænas to answer original or other bills should be made returnable, at the office of the clerk and master, on the first rule-day coming twenty or more days after its issuance; and the defendant should be required to answer or make other defense on the return-day, if served with process five or more days before the return-day, and, if not so served, then on the rule-day coming next after the return-day. This would give a defendant in vacation at least thirty-five days in which to make his defense, as no pro confesso could be entered against him until the second rule-day after service of process; and if he needed further time, the chancellor or master could grant it.
Second.-Section 4351 of the Code (S 5094, M. & V. Code), providing that if subpæna to answer be served within five days before the first day of a term, the defendant shall not be required to answer until the first day of the second term after the service, should be repealed, or, at least, so modified as to require the defendant, in such a case, to make his defense on or before the first Monday of the following month. Defendants can, by evading service of process until after the Wednesday preceding a term, obtain a delay of six months; and it is doubtful whether any rule of court as to return of process can lawfully be made to deprive a defendant of this right.
Third.—The chancellors should be given authority to pass on the sufficiency of demurrers and pleas in vacation, and to overrule and disallow them, if found insufficient, the defendant's solicitor to be given reasonable notice of the time and place of the hearing in such cases. On a plea or demurrer being overruled, whether it be to the jurisdiction or not, the defendant may be allowed to rely on it in his answer.
Indeed, it might be well to require all defenses to be filed at the same time, whether they be to the jurisdiction or to the merits, leaving it optional with the defendant to file them as separate pleadings, or to incorporate all of them in his answer, such defenses as are to the jurisdiction of the court to be heard and disposed of at the first termı after they are made, or to be treated as waived, the parties, however, to prepare the case for hearing on all the defenses at the first term after defense made.
Either of these modifications would result in preventing the vexatious and premeditated delays resulting from the tiling of frivolous demurrers and pleas in vacation; and while more costs would occasionally accrue in particular cases, in general the costs would be greatly lessened.
While the older lawyers may be horrified at the suggestion of joining defenses to the jurisdiction and defenses on the merits, the younger lawyers will deem the change promotive of a speedy hearing of causes, and the next generation of lawyers will wonder why the change was not made sooner.
Justice has but one sword wherewith to strike, and but one shield wherewith to defend, and but one garment envelopes her person. A multiplicity of swords and shields would perplex her, and a diversity of garments would hamper her. The followers of King Charles I., looked with horror on a limited monarchy; the advocates of a limited monarchy regarded a republic as an “iridescent dream;" whereas, we regard a limited monarchy as an absurd relic of ancient ignorance and despotism; and as for the so-called divine right of kings, we regard it as mere blasphemous nonsense, worthy only of dark ages or cowardly races. So of all reforms.
If the foregoing amendment is not made, then so much of $ 4370 of the Code ($ 5113 M. & V.) as shields a demurrant from a final decree on a pro confesso at the return-term, should be repealed.
Under this section, if a demurrer, absolutely frivolous, is interposed and overruled, and, at the same term, a pro confesso entered against the demurrant for failing to answer on a rule given, the court must wait six months before it can pronounce a final decree on the pro confesso. In some counties, it is a common practice, where the defendant has no merits, to interpose a frivolous demurrer, and thus obtain an additional delay of six months. This statute offers a reward for sharp practice, and tenders a bribe to defendants to trifle with the court; and, at the same time, forbids the chancellor from doing justice. In the Circuit Court, a final judgment may be had in such a case at the same term at which the judgment by default is entered. Code, $ 4244 (M. & V., $ 5016). Why should the State allow a court of law to do wbat she forbids in a court of equity?
Fourth. The complainant should be allowed to take his proof at any time after the return-day of process served or publication made, on notice or interrogatories, he, however, to pay the costs thereof, if the defendant file an answer admitting the material allegations of the bill, or suffer a pro confesso, which will entitle the complainant to a final decree without further proof.
The adoption of such a rule would greatly expedite the final disposition of a cause, and that, too, without doing the slightest injury to the defendant. This rule would be of vast benefit in suits to sell lands to pay a decedent's debts, suits to sell land for partition, suits to sell lands for support of persons under disability, or for the education of infants, or for re-investment,