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the way with him," is just as true in human as in Divine law. Observe that the time for conciliation in divorce in France is at the outset not after the two parties have heaped up abuse and possible insult and revealed the secrets of their married life to a Judge and a court room. A decree nisi, in comparison with the French procedure as above referred to, seems to me so utterly lacking in psychological astuteness as to show up very poorly. In French practice a man and his wife may have a dispute and cause of divorce given; may go to the Judge in conciliation preparatory to a trial and yield to the Judge's arguments as to the advantages of forgetting their difficulty and return home without any one being the wiser and, therefore, without having their family peace disturbed by the knowledge of publicity. Secrecy, then, in conciliation, conciliation as a preliminary step in divorce procedure, absolute secrecy as to the public at large so far as the press is concerned these are the features which, joined to a liberal catalogue of causes for divorce, make the laws of France, in this respect, thoroughly adapted to the state of society at the present day.
The feature of privacy cannot be too much enlarged upon in divorce proceedings. Not only does article 239 of the Civil Code provide that evidence can be heard with closed doors, but press reports are forbidden under a fine as high as 2,000 francs as a maximum. This should be imitated in New York. The liberty of the Press is not involved, but the liberty of the individual, the liberty of the family, the sacredness of the conjugal hearth - even when rupture begins- is very much at stake. What business is it of the public to know the evidence leading up to the divorce of John Doe and his wife? Is it not an impertinence that has been tolerated long enough, this
publicity of family matters in the press? How can a reconciliation be effected after John Doe and his wife's relations have been reported throughout the Continent and cabled to Europe. After a man has charged his wife with infidelity and that has been spread abroad and commented upon in public, can he be expected to be in a proper frame of mind to take her back? The French system of conciliation joined with privacy in divorce evidence is putting the legal horse before the legal cart. No so a decree nisi. It is a curious fact that, while the French stage reeks with adultery in every phase ad nauseam and the public taste, depraved so far as theatrical representations are concerned, real conjugal troubles are kept practically quiet and the press is practically silent about the matter when brought into Court. On the other hand, our stage is, generally speaking, highly moral - certainly comparatively so- but the public taste is gratified with all those sad and immoral details of conjugal infelicity through the columns of the press. I think, then, that:
First. Our laws should be more liberal as to causes for divorce;
Second. Conciliation should be an obligatory prelude;
Third. Reports of the evidence in the public press absolutely forbidden as in France.
It may be asked does this admirable French system as to divorce work a diminution in the number of applications for divorce? I answer quite frankly, "No." It is a fact that divorce has lately slightly increased in France, but I call attention to the fact that divorce is as easy in France, under certain conditions, as in the most liberal State in the United States, even for foreign
ers, provided the parties accept the jurisdiction of the French courts.
So you can no more demand that the morality of France as to divorce be shown by the number of applications in divorce than you would attempt to prove the morality of the State of Washington or the Dakotas by the number of cases of divorce granted in those places. The American mind must get rid of the idea that French families are immoral as a rule. Close observation shows that they are not. Close observation shows that foreigners flock to Paris to amuse themselves, and it is in the Department in which Paris is situated that the divorce cases are totally out of proportion to the residential population properly so called.
I am well aware that a people cannot be made moral by law, and the American people do not require that an attempt should be made in that direction; but American morality has a right to be protected, and I submit that some of my suggestions taken from the pages of the French Civil Code tend in that direction.
Selden Bacon, of New York:
Mr. President, I noticed this morning there was no opportunity of saying a word about the papers presented on the subject of the congestion of the work of the Judiciary. I have a word I would like to say on that if it is agreeable to the Association. It will only take a moment.
There is one thing to which, it seems to me, no attention has been called in any of these papers, about congested work in the Supreme Court, a matter entirely aside from that of sending the Judges to New York. The prime difficulty, as far as I can see it, with our calendars is, we do not insist parties shall come to issue. We allow half of the time of the court to be taken up in trials over
litigated questions that are not really in suit between the parties. I had such an experience last winter, taking four days of the time of one of the best Judges in New York county. When I had once proved it the other party said, "I have no contrary proof; I suppose it is proved." If there had been a further pleading he would have been compelled to admit the allegation. The allowance of an additional pleading will cut down that congestion fifty per
The other suggestion is this: We had an admirable statute passed in this State a few years ago, allowing each party to call the other before any trial and examine him and make him state what his contention really was. It was an admirable statute, but Justice Van Brunt abolished it, and you cannot examine a party that way. That statute, in this work of review of the Code, ought to be put in such terms that it cannot be superseded by any judicial construction. That was the original system of pleading the old common-law pleading. Two parties came before the judge, and he simply sat there as a moderator and said to each party, "Tell your story," and then came up the equity procedure, and there was the same thing. The Chancellor required each party to state the controversy fully. If those things could be adopted; if that old system practically of the oral pleading of the common law in the early days could be re-established, I think you would shorten the issues fifty per cent.
Walter S. Logan, of New York:
Mr. President, I see you are getting ready to let us adjourn and send us home. I do not think it would be proper for us to adjourn without recognizing certain figures which have just been handed to me in relation to this Association. There have been 427 new members admitted since the last meeting. Of those members Mr.
Edward W. Sheldon, of New York, I am told, has brought in ninety, other members eighty, and a gentleman by the name of Wadhams (whose name you have heard) 257(Applause.) The whole 427 have been attracted to the Association by the splendid character and achievements of the President. (Applause.) I remember once when I attended on successive weeks a banquet of the Rhode Island State Bar Association and the New York State Bar Association, there were more members present at the Rhode Island Bar Association than there were at the New York State Bar Association. I remember once when the New York State Bar Association did not have as much influence as it has now and did not have such a President.
I do not know what the President has done to bring these reproaches upon him.
This increase of membership means more than 427. It means a great increase in the character, the influence and prestige of this Association. It is recognized throughout the United States that the Empire State leads in its Bar Association as it does in other things, and next to the influence of the American Bar Association, if it is even next, the New York State Bar Association has more influence upon legislation in the United States and upon the jurisprudence of the United States than any other Bar Association in the United States. I was in Washington the other day before the Judiciary Committee on the Bankruptcy Bill. All the mercantile bodies of the United States were there and they were passed over. I said I represented some Bar Associations, and they listened and reported the bill the next day. The Bar of the State of