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with the view of establishing by constitutional amendments a state-wide system of courts which will handle the business now handled by our present City Courts, and not to merge it into the Superior Courts.
The City Courts of Georgia should be abolished without hope of resurrection, and in their places a court created by constitutional provision which will be established as a matter of law and not politics, and which when established will be permanent in their existence and uniform in jurisdiction and procedure. There are counties in Georgia which might possibly not need this court upon its creation, but this can be taken care of by proper provision that the court come into existence upon recommendation of the grand jury, but that when once established it must be permanent. This will correct the evil of the present method of creating the City Courts and will eliminate the uncertainty of the court's existence.
These proposed courts should be jury courts only upon demand in their civil jurisdiction, but all criminal cases should be jury cases. They should hold quarterly and monthly terms of court and in jurisdiction should be so created as to take care of the business now handled by the City Courts, the Justice Courts and the Municipal Courts of certain cities.
The foregoing suggestions are made with a view of relieving the proposed courts, of the evils of our present City Courts, growing out of their method of creation and their uncertainty of existence. It would be advisable to have the judges of these proposed courts appointed if possible, as best results are obtained when law enforcing officials are appointed and only the lawmakers elected. There is no intention on my part to offer any complete judicial system, but I believe the suggestions made will tend to remedy the present defects of our City Courts, and while evils will probably develop in the proposed court, these can be corrected without any change in the system itself. In any change to be made the first thought should be to build the foundation of the proposed judicial system right and therefore permanent, so that future additions or corrections can be made without disturbing the basis of the system. These suggestions are offered with that in view.
SHOULD THE CITY COURTS BE ABOLISHED? IF
SO, WHAT SHOULD BE SUBSTITUTED?
Immediately after having signified my intention to address this body upon the affirmative side of the question, "Should the City Courts Be Abolished, and If So, What Shall Be Substituted for Them ?” my partner accepted an appointment as Judge of the City Court of Athens. I am still in doubt as to the significance of that act, for I know his confidence in my powers of persuasion is strong, and I believe he wants to hold the judgeship.
It is very difficult to urge the abolition of the City Courts without going into the question of revising our whole judicial system, and repeating a good deal that has been said at this meeting, especially so for one who is in sympathy with the movement that seems now to be spreading all over this country, to simplify and unify the courts, and which is aimed at in the report of Judge Cobb’s committee. But even if no sweeping changes are made all along the line certainly, it seems to me, our City Courts should go, for they are indeed anomalies. Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of City Courts—the City Courts of Atlanta and Savannah, “and such other like courts," which are mentioned in the Constitution, and hence are termed constitutional, and those which are not like the Savannah and the Atlanta Courts, nor like any others.
And to determine whether a court is “like” that of Savannah or Atlanta is not without its difficulties. It usually takes a decision of the Supreme Court to relieve the question of doubt, (they have overruled themselves a time or two in attempting it) and no two of the judicially determined constitutional City Courts even, are in all respects alike. As was said by Justice Cobb in the wellknown case of Wellborne v. The State (114 Ga., 793), after describing generally the nature of those courts :
“The general character of the two courts named in the Constitution as City Courts can be gathered from the foregoing statément. The points of similarity between the two courts were few; the points of dissimilarity were many. They were both like each other in that they were each unlike the City Court of Augusta. These three were like each other in that each of them was unlike the City Court of Darien. What has been said in reference to the four courts that have been named will apply to every City Court created between 1816 and 1877. They were all unlike each other in powers, jurisdiction, etc., and their likeness to each other consisted in the fact that each was brought into existence by local conditions or needs peculiar to the place where the court was established. It would tax beyond its power the ingenuity of the most fertile mind of the legal profession this State has ever had among its members to frame a law creating a court which should be in all respects like both the City Courts of Atlanta and Savannah.”
But, as has been so clearly pointed out by our distinguished guest, Dr. Pound, in speaking of the American custom of multiplying courts, in establishing these courts we have adopted the usual practice followed since ancient times, of creating the special before the general, and when new types of causes have arisen, when business has increased, instead of increasing the business efficiency of the courts and if necessary adding additional judges, we have created new courts, with all the attendant clerks, constables and deputies. This practice is not only a waste of time and effort and money, unjustifiably increasing, as our clients would say, the overhead, but serves to defeat that most desired aim of all legal controversies — the prompt and certain disposition of litigation.
To be specific:
It so happens that the majority, perhaps, certainly a large percentage, of the members of the bar of Georgia
are called upon to practice in City Courts outside of their own counties. And so we will say that John Doe, an average lawyer, is employed in a case in an adjacent City Court. That necessitates, first, a search of the various acts of the General Assembly to find how and upon what condition the particular court was created. (Ten to one it has been established and abolished from two to five times. It frequently happens that a City Court is abolished and another established instanter as a kind of judicial recall.) After spending the better part of a day with all the borrowed volumes of Georgia Laws available, he at last is confident he has mastered all the amendments on the subject. Then he sits down to read and digest the various Acts and discovers that it is provided that all cases may be tried at the first term by the judge, unless a jury trial is demanded; and as the term approaches, packing client and witnesses in his flivver, he goes to court. Opposing counsel is not present and his case is not called. Upon inquiry he is informed that notwithstanding the provisions of the Act it is the practice there not to try cases until the second term, and his case will not be reached until the next quarterly session, three months hence. He then, noticing that the other side has not demanded a jury trial, also refrains from doing so, since that would entail the additional expense of employing local counsel, and he is quite content to abide by the well-known fairness and good judgment of the court.
Our hero comes back in three months and when his case is called he is handed a list and instructed to strike a jury. He mildly calls attention to the Act creating the court, and to the failure of either side to demand a jury, and is informed that that provision is only honored in its breach, the universal custom has been to the contrary, and the judge remarks that he had rather let the facts be passed on by twelve good men. Since our hero's client is a stranger the twelve good men promptly take him in. He then ‘makes a motion for a new trial and to its over