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modeled after the Federal system which is the result of a century of experience and evolution.
The Supreme Court is the archstone. If it properly functions, no errors of law can be committed in this State. The Court of Appeals winnows out the chaff contained in about 65 per cent of the cases. If error is made by the Court of Appeals the Supreme Court has the power to correct it. If there are conflicts between the divisions of the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court may correct them. If the Supreme Court does not and has not made the corrections it is in fault, for it has an unlimited superintending power. It has the power to police every judge and every court in Georgia. Under its broad powers of certiorari if given the construction given by the Supreme Court of the United States to similar language conferring the power of certiorari upon it, our Supreme Court may reach down below the Court of Appeals and bring before it a case pending in nisi prius Courts.
The responsibility then lies with the Supreme Court; for responsibility follows power.
If the Supreme Court cannot police itself with six judges, how can it be expected to police itself if it has twelve judges ?
I do not wish my language to be construed as a reflection upon our Supreme Court. I do not charge that it has failed to function. I mean to say that a demand for the consolidation of the two Courts implies the criticism that it is not functioning.
Having then a system where perfection can be obtained, is it not best that we retain what we have, expanding and improving it by the process of evolution, limiting, if necessary, the original Appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and adding additional divisions of the Court of Appeals so often as may become necessary.
I think we should deprecate the tendency to make footballs of our Courts.
Except in our larger cities where the City Courts are as firmly established by tradition as if they were protected by constitutional provision, the City Courts are made and unmade according to the extent of the cordiality existing between the Judge of the Court and the member of the General Assembly who chances to represent that County at that particular time.
If the Superior Courts were not protected by constitutional provisions they would meet the same fate as the City Courts, for a large portion of our population would really prefer to have no Courts at all.
In conclusion, I would say that as a practical question we had better bend our efforts to grading up the Courts we now have, rather than jumbling them.
But whatever we decide it is useless to attempt an abolition of the Court of Appeals. Whatever its faults may be it has its place in our judicial firmament and the people of this State recognize this fact and will preserve this Court. Disappointed litigants may contend that some of its opinions are erroneous. However that may be, it has rendered opinions which have enriched our legal lore. The General Assembly and the people are willing to improve it. They will not abolish it. Georgians were never abolitionists.
SHOULD THE SUPREME COURT AND THE COURT
OF APPEALS BE CONSOLIDATED?
The discussion of this question involves primarily the question as to whether or not we should have one court of last resort in the State, and that in turn, as to whether or not we should have a Court of Appeals, which is a court of last resort in specified cases. The consolidation of the two courts would have the effect to abolish the Court of Appeals. Should this be done?
This may be viewed from three standpoints:
First: The effect of a Court of Appeals on the general public.
Second: The economy of a Court of Appeals.
Third: How a Court of Appeals affects a lawyer and his clients.
This body recognizes that faith in the law and the judicial administration thereof is the bulwark of liberty and society. Whatever enhances the respect of the general public for law as administered decreases crime and increases the opportunity of man to pursue happiness in the best way. Whether right or wrong man is so constituted in our form of government that he resents an administration of the law in a manner to his mind autocratic in that some cases will be decided by the highest court of the land, while his case must end by a decision from an inferior court. If his case involves a property worth millions, or a poodle dog, he demands the right to have the same passed on by the highest court of his State. A Court of Appeals has never been popular, I think, anywhere. I have written to some eminent lawyer in each State where a Court of Appeals exists, or has existed. A number of the States like Kentucky and others, have tried the Court of Appeal and after trial abolished them. An eminent lawyer of the State of Alabama wrote me that the Court of Appeal there was very unpopular, and he said, “The Court is not in general favor as an institution and it has escaped only through the personal influence of its members.” The fact that other States have abolished their Courts of Appeal is evidence that the public is not satisfied with them. This is strong evidence that they should not exist in our form of government. The personnel of such Court is not involved in this discussion. However popular the individual judges may be and however capable they may be, the Court as such, I think has never been popular with the public generally, and its existence is not conducive to respect for law and its administration.
The next consideration is whether or not the Court of Appeal is economical in time and money. It would not be difficult, I think, to demonstrate by a list of the cases decided by each court, and the cost of time and money for such decisions, that the court is not economical, and this is true of all Courts of Appeal throughout the country.
Mr. W. M. Cain, in an article on “The Law's Delays," published May 7th in The Central Law Journal, takes up the States west of the Ohio having Courts of Appeal and gives the result of their experience. I take the liberty of quoting from that paper a part of what he says on that subject, to-wit:
“Colorado-Has a Supreme Court of seven judges, and a Court of Appeals of five judges. Supreme Court sits in departments, of two judges and the Chief Justice each. Time required to litigate a given case is from two to four years. Some years ago Colorado had a Court of Appeals,
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but abolished it. About one year ago this Court was reinstated, but under an arrangement by which it is only an addition to the Supreme Court there, for the Court of Appeals has no jurisdiction either by appeal or writ of error, and can decide no cause unless it is sent to it by the Supreme Court. They say that since the establishment of this Court of Appeals under the arrangement above noted, things are catching up a little bit.
“California-Has a Supreme Court of seven judges and three District Courts of Appeal of three judges each, but the time required to reach the end of litigation in California is as long or longer than it is in Nebraska. The Supreme Court does not sit in divisions. The causes of delay assigned are the usual ones of trial judges not frowning upon dilatory tactics, and the time of the Supreme Court being occupied in deciding whether a defeated litigant in one of its Courts of Appeals has still a right of appeal to the Supreme Court.
"Indiana–Has a Supreme Court of five judges and a Court of Appeals of five judges, but the time required to reach the end of litigation is from two to four years. Neither Court sits in divisions.
“Kansas—Has a Supreme Court of seven judges, which sits in divisions. It has no Court of Appeals. Length of time required to reach final judgment is one year to eighteen months—in rare cases, two years. They have the 'Rules Session' system in operation there.
"Michigan-Has a Supreme Court of eight judges, which sits in divisions of five judges each, the unanimous decision of whom is final. If there is disagreement or doubt, the case is re-argued before the entire bench. The Supreme Court is not behind at all, and a case is reached there within six months after it is filed. Some delay occurs in the trial court for the usual causes. But the total length of time necessarily employed in reaching the final end of a lawsuit in Michigan is about one year. There are no intermediate Appellate Courts in Michigan
"Minnesota-Has a Supreme Court consisting of five judges and has no Court of Appeals. There is no constitutional requirement for this Court to sit in divisions. Length of time required for litigation in Minnesota is nine months to one year. But there is, I am told, a