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Private Property.-When private property shall be taken for any public use, the compensation to be made therefor, when such compensation is not made by the State, shall be ascertained by a jury, or by not less than three commissioners appointed by a court of record, as shall be prescribed by law. Private roads may be opened in the manner to be prescribed by law; but in every case the necessity of the road and the amount of all damage to be sustained by the opening thereof shall be first determined by a jury of freeholders, and such amount, together with the expenses of the proceeding, shall be paid by the person to be benefited. General laws may be passed permitting the owners or occupants of agricultural lands to construct and maintain for the drainage thereof, necessary drains, ditches and dikes upon the lands of others, under proper restrictions and with just compensation, but no special laws shall be enacted for such purposes. (Sec. 7.)
Effect has been given to the provisions relating to private roads by statutes, which direct that a person desiring to open a private road through the lands of another must make application in writing to the highway officers of the town where the land is situated. A jury is then called to investigate the matter and determine the necessity of the road and the compensation to be given to the owner of the land. The road so laid out does not become a public thoroughfare, but is only for the use of the applicant and those to whom he transfers his right. The statutes provide similar proceedings to empower a person to drain his land across the premises of another.
Freedom of Speech; Libel.-Every citizen may freely speak, write and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right; and no law shall be passed to restrain or abridge the liberty of speech or of the press. In all criminal prosecutions or indictments for libels, the truth may be given in evidence to the jury; and if it shall appear to the
jury that the matter charged as libelous is true, and was published with good motives and for justifiable ends, the party shall be acquitted; and the jury shall have the right to determine the law and the fact. (Sec. 8.) (See Book I., page 184.)
Right to Assemble; Divorce; Lotteries-No law shall be passed abridging the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government, or any department thereof; nor shall any divorce * be granted otherwise than by due judicial proceedings; nor shall any lottery † or the sale of lottery tickets, pool selling, book making, or any other kind of gambling hereafter be authorized or allowed within this State; and the Legislature shall pass appropriate laws to prevent offenses against any of the provisions of this section. (Sec. 9.) (See Book I., page 184.)
Escheats. The people of this State, in their right of sovereignty, are deemed to possess the original and ultimate property in and to all lands within the jurisdiction of the State; and all lands the title to which shall fail, from a defect of heirs, shall revert § or escheat || to the people. (Sec. 10.)
Feudal Tenures Abolished.-All feudal tenures T of every description, with all their incidents, are declared to be abolished, saving, however, all rents and services certain which at any time heretofore have been lawfully created or reserved. (Sec. 11.)
* Divorce. The dissolution or partial suspension of the marriage relation.
+ Lottery.-A scheme for the distribution of property by chance. Defect of Heirs.-A condition existing when a person dies without relatives.
§ Revert.-To return to.
Escheat.-To return to or become forfeited to.
Feudal Tenure.-The right of a person, called a vassal, to hold lands on condition of performing certain fixed services and rendering allegiance to a superior lord. Among the incidents of feudal tenures
Aids.-Money tribute levied by the lord upon the vassal.
Reliefs.-Money consideration demanded of the vassal's heir to entitle him to succeed to the rights of his ancestor.
Fines.—Money consideration exacted by the lord from the vassal for permission to transfer his estate to another,
Allodial Tenures.-All lands within this State are declared to be allodial,* so that, subject only to the liability to escheat, the entire and absolute property is vested in the owners, according to the nature of their respective estates. (Sec. 12.)
Leases of Agricultural Lands.—No lease or grant of agricultural land, for a longer period than twelve years, hereafter made, in which shall be reserved any rent or service of any kind, shall be valid. (Sec. 13.) (See page 14.)
This section makes void two or more simultaneous leases of the same agricultural lands to the same person, the sum of whose terms exceeds twelve years.
Fines and Quarter-sales Abolished.-All fines, quartersales, or other like restraints upon alienation reserved in any grant of land hereafter to be made shall be void. (Sec. 14.)
Purchase of Indian Lands.-No purchase or contract for the sale of lands in this State, made since the fourteenth day of October, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five; or which may hereafter be made, of, or with the Indians, shall be valid, unless made under the authority, and with the consent of the Legislature. (Sec. 15.)
Damages for Injuries Causing Death.-The right of action now existing to recover damages for injuries resulting in death shall never be abrogated; and the amount recoverable shall not be subject to any statutory limitation. (Sec. 18.)
The right of action guaranteed by this section arises when death is caused by the carelessness or negligence of another. By the common law (see Book I., page 162) an injured person had the right to recover damages for injuries to his person caused by negligence, but there could be no recovery in case of his death. The Legislature in 1847
*Allodial.-Independent ownership, without a superior to whom any service or duty is due.
+ Quarter-sales.-A term applied to a provision formerly inserted in leases which required the lessee, if he sold his lease to another person, to pay to the lessor a certain portion of the purchase price.
extended the right of action to cases resulting in death. In 1849 the amount which could be recovered was limited to five thousand dollars, at which amount it remained until the adoption of the present Constitution. The action provided for by this section is begun by the executor or administrator (see Book I., page 213) of the person killed, and the money recovered becomes a part of the estate of the dead person.
Divisions of Government.-The government of the State of New York consists of three distinct branches-the legislative, executive and judicial. By the Constitution it is provided that:
The legislative power of this State shall be vested in the Senate and Assembly. (Art. III., Sec. 1.)
These two bodies constitute the Legislature.
Qualifications of Members.-The Constitution does not prescribe the qualifications necessary for election to the legislature, but it provides that:
No person shall be eligible to the Legislature who, at the time of his election, is, or within one hundred days previous thereto has been, a member of Congress, a civil or military officer under the United States, or an officer under any city government. And if any person shall, after his election as a member of the Legislature, be elected to Congress, or appointed to any office, civil or military, under the government of the United States, or under any city government, his acceptance thereof shall vacate his seat. (Art. III., Sec. 8.)
By statute it is also provided that no person shall be elected to the Legislature who has been convicted of bribery, violation of his oath as a public officer, the commission of a serious crime, or unless he be of full age, a citizen of the United States and a resident of the State and senatorial or assembly district which he represents. (See Book I., page 67.)
Legislators to Hold No Other Office.-For the purpose of ensuring the continued and undivided service of the persons elected to the Legislature, a section, similar to that of the United States Constitution (see Book I., page 59), provides that:
No member of the Legislature shall receive any civil appointment within this State, or the Senate of the United States, from the Governor, the Governor and Senate, or from the Legislature, or from any city government, during the time for which he shall have been elected; and all such appointments and all votes given for any such member for any such office or appointment shall be void. (Art. III., Sec. 7.)
Time of Election.-The elections of senators and members of assembly, pursuant to the provisions of this Constitution, shall be held on the Tuesday succeeding the first Monday of November, unless otherwise directed by the Legislature. (Art. III., Sec. 9.)
The object of this section is to simplify elections and reduce the expense and excitement attending them by adopting for this purpose the same day as that prescribed by Congress for the holding of a General Election.
Senators and Assemblymen.-The Constitution provides that:
The Senate shall consist of fifty members, except as hereinafter provided. The senators elected in the year one thousand eight