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logical Table and Index of the Statutes to which I have referred. It was first published in the year 1870. New editions are frequently published to bring it down to date. The last was the seventeenth, and was issued in 1901. It consists of two volumes. The first consists of all the statutes from the earliest down to the time of publication in chronological order. In the first column the statute is given with its year and chapter. In the second column is given its title in the Index, or if not in force its subject is printed in italics. If it is a private or local act that fact is stated in that column in italics. In the third column, if it is a general act, is a reference to the later acts which repeal it in whole or in part or otherwise affect it. The second volume is an index to the subject-matter of the acts arranged according to a carefully prepared plan. With these volumes at hand the statute law of England on any subject and the history of any general act can be readily ascertained. A more necessary, useful or valuable adjunct to the legislation of a State I cannot imagine.
Turning now to the statute law of this State, what is its condition, and what are its needs? Since the revision which in the main went into force in 1830 there has been no systematic recompilation of the whole of the statute law. In the seventy-two years since that time there has been a constant stream of legislation. Much of it has been original; much amendatory; much repealing, either directly or indirectly; and much seemingly original, but really covering the same ground as existing acts. The only simile to apply to it is that of a vast forest with an almost impenetrable undergrowth. At the time of the adoption of the Constitution of 1846, codification, as distinguished from statutory revision and consolidation, was in the air, and it contained the remarkable provision (section 17, article I) that the Legislature, at its first ses
sion after the adoption of the Constitution, "shall appoint three commissioners whose duty it shall be to reduce into a written and systematic code the whole body of the law of this State, or so much and such parts thereof as to the said commissioners shall seem practicable and expedient." In addition it provided (section 24, article VI) for the appointment of three commissioners "to revise, reform, simplify and abridge the rules of practice, pleadings, forms and proceedings of the courts of record of this State." The outcome of these ambitious provisions was only the so-called Field Code of Procedure of 1848. Other codes prepared by the commissioners between 1847 and 1865 fell by the way, with the exception of the Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure, and they were not enacted till 1881. The reason for this inconsiderable result was that the times were not ripe for codification on a great scale. There having been almost total failure along the lines laid down by the Constitution of 1846, the Legislature in 1870 adopted the narrower policy of statutory revision and consolidation, and authorized the appointment of a commission for that purpose. Again there was failure as the commissioners appointed, ignoring the mandate of the statute, preferred codification to revision, and, reporting the unenacted codes of the previous commission, produced themselves, perhaps fortunately, only the present Code of Civil Procedure. The Legislature again returned to the subject in 1889 and authorized the appointment of " three competent persons as commissioners to prepare and report to the Legislature bills for the consolidation and revision of the general statutes of the State." The labors of that commission extended over a period of eleven years, when a widespread feeling of impatience at the delay in the accomplishment of its task and the prospect of its indefinite
continuance terminated its existence with its work far from complete, and the confusion, because of that fact, increased rather than diminished. Starting with a scheme "to embody in a single law all cognate subjects and to fit each completed law into a definite system," what was the state of things when the commission was dissolved? It was originally estimated that the general statutes could by revision and consolidation be reduced to fifty chapters, each complete in itself and with a short title. As the work proceeded it was found that the number must be increased. Up to the close of the session of 1899 there had been enacted forty-six or forty-seven chapters. The commission submitted to the Legislature during the session of 1900 fifty or more bills, consisting of several new general laws carrying the scheme of their consolidation to completion; thirty-three bills elaborately amending, and in some instances revising throughout, chapters of the general laws which had been enacted; and three Codes of Procedure, besides other acts dealing with matters of adjective or remedial law such as the Judiciary and Jury Laws and the Evidence Laws. These bills, with two or three drawn after the close of the session, completed the scheme of the commissioners in its entirety, and had they been enacted it would have consisted in its final form of a body of general laws in sixty-two separate chapters; three Codes of Civil Procedure, entitled the Justice Code, the Surrogates' Code and the Code of Civil Procedure; the Penal Code, and the Code of Criminal Procedure. It could not be claimed for it that it was exhaustive, that is that it superseded all pre-existing general acts, thereby avoiding the confusion and complications of a new system. of statute law and remnants of an old system existing side by side; and it did not deal in any way with the vast mass of local and special laws. It was a startling fact,
too, that of the new general laws there had been over 2,000 sections added, amended, repealed or modified between the years 1890 and 1899, and that thirty-three bills were necessary in the year 1900 for their further amendment and revision.
The Legislature of 1900 did not feel warranted in passing the bills so laid before it by the commission without further consideration. A joint committee was appointed for that purpose to report at the next session. That committee performed its duty in a most thorough and careful manner, and its report is a remarkably able and comprehensive document. It advised against the passage of the bills submitted by the commission for reasons which are best stated in its own language:
"The committee rejects the proposed code bills of the commission because they carry out a plan of code revision which is not acceptable, as it is (a) artificial and does not correct the evils inherent in the code, and (b) inconvenient, dividing the practice act into eleven books.
"The committee recommends the postponement of action upon the bills of the commission relating to the general laws because (a) the revision of the Code and the general laws should go hand in hand, and (b) the bills are not based upon an examination of the Session Laws and are therefore not comprehensive."
The plan of the committee for the revision of the general laws was, again to quote its own language, "a page to page examination of the Session Laws which will (a) make the general laws comprehensive, (b) specifically repeal all obsolete, contradictory and unnecessary laws, and (c) classify all remaining laws:' and its plan for the revision of the Code of Civil Procedure was "to eliminate from the present Code all matters not relating directly to practice, and the assignment.
of the material so removed to a place in the general laws," and to reduce and simplify the remaining purely practice provisions. The committee made other pertinent and valuable recommendations, the most important being the preparation of an adequate index to the whole statute law, and improved means for the drafting of bills and the supervision of future amendments.
The adverse report of the committee stopped the revision of the last commission in its incomplete condition, and there it has remained. An arrested revision is worse than no revision at all. The present state of things is intolerable, and the only open question is, what, under existing conditions, is the best measure of relief. To aid in its solution the Legislature at its last session authorized the appointment of a committee of not to exceed fifteen members" to report to the next Legislature concerning the statutes and laws of this State." That committee was appointed with Chief Judge Parker as its chairman, and such men as ex-Chief Judge Andrews, ex-Judge Robert Earl and Judge Martin, of the Court of Appeals, as his associates. After a careful consideration of the whole subject it has laid its report before the Legislature. It recommends "an early completion of the work of consolidation" without changes in substance along the general lines of the last commission, to accomplish the following results, quoting the language of the report: "First, specific repeal of obsolete, contradictory and inconsistent. statutes. (Expurgation.) Second, gathering together all cognate general statutes and bringing down to date the work of collation and condensation. (Consolidation.) Third, analysis and arrangement of existing local and special laws so far as practicable, under proper heads or topics. (Classification.) Fourth, publication of the laws as consolidated with a full and complete index. (Repub