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The committee for the year 1897, Hon. J. M. McNeill being Chairman, reported that there should be:
1. Payment of lawyers defending pauper criminals. 2. Repeal of all exemptions from jury duty.
3. Abolition of appearance terms, certainly to the extent of allowing judgments at the first term where no defence had been filed.
4. No reversal by the Supreme Court upon a technicality, where it appears that substantial justice has been done.
5. Abolition of the rule requiring unanimous concurrence of a jury in the rendition of a verdict.
The committee for the year 1898, Hon. Pope Barrow being Chairman, suggested that amending the Code be made more difficult by requiring the assent of two successive legislatures, or a three-fourths vote of both houses.
The committee for the year 1899, Hon. John F. De Lacy being Chairman, advised that indictments be made amendable, and that the State have the same number of challenges with the accused.
The Committee for the year 1903, Hon. J. H. Merrill being Chairman, made the following suggestions:
1. That the law be changed so that as to all wills, if an. attesting witness be legatee, the witness shall be competent but the legacy void.
2. That the law regulating private corporations be amended by:
(a) Adding to section 2032 of the Code a provision for revoking the charter, unless a license be applied for and granted within a reasonable time (say sixty days), after grant of the charter.
(b) Adoption of standard form of fire insurance contracts. (c) Requiring corporations to file annually with the clerk of
the superior court, or Secretary of State, a statement of assets and liabilities.
(d) Clear indication from name of corporation that it is. a corporation.
(e) Fixing the same time as is now provided for giving notice of application for charter, but providing, also, for caveat. to the application.
3. Amend Code sections 4165 by striking the words "after the expiration of four days, Sundays excepted” (as to issue of executions by justices of the peace).
The above list of recommendations and suggestions is not exhaustive, as all the reports of previous committees were not accessible, but certainly it contains much that is of value, and much which should receive the attention of the Association.
So far as we have been able to discover, none of these reports has been acted upon.
We would especially invite legislation upon the subject of putting legatees under a nuncupative will upon the same footing with those under a written will; that is to say, that where a witness to any will is also a legatee, the witness shall be competent but the legacy void.
In the case of Smith vs. Crotty, 112 Ga. 905, it was held: “That the testimony of one named in a nuncupative will as legatee is essential to lawfully proving the making thereof does not render his legacy void;" in other words, that section 3275 of the Code, which provides : "If a subscribing witness is also a legatee or a devisee under the will, the witness is competent but the legacy or devise is void,” does not apply to nuncupative wills.
The law upon this subject, in the judgment of the Committee on Jurisprudence and Law Reform of 1902 (to whom was referred a paper by Hon. P. W. Meldrim on the question), should be changed, and in this we concur. In fact we believe that there is stronger reason why a legatee under a nuncupative will should not be allowed to prove the will and also take the legacy, than is the case with a written will. The temptation to fraud is certainly as great in the case of the first named will, and the opportunity for fraud is much greater.
The valuable paper of Mr. Shepherd Bryan read before the Association in 1901, referred to the Committee on Jurisprudence and Law Reform, and reported upon by it last year, treated of a number of evils accompanying the rapid increase of private corporations in our State, and is well worth careful reading
One of the recommendations which it evoked from the committee, and which we desire to repeat, is that the law should require, when a charter is applied for, that the corporate name should clearly indicate a corporation. One, and possibly more, of the judges of our superior courts has for years insisted upon this, and the frequency and ingenuity of attempts to evade his requirements, indicate how much is valued having a charter as a corporation but a name which seems to carry with it individual responsibility. This is more than ever true now that nearly all of our large and many small mercantile part.nerships are being converted into corporations. Such names for corporations as “John Smith & Bros.,” “Peter Jones Company,” “Samuel Simpson, Incorporated,” (abbreviated title "Inc.") are proposed. The latter is now coming into fashion and the ease with which the Inc. can be dropped when a fraud is designed can be readily conceived. If such a name is to be permitted, would it not be well to have the law go further and require, under a penalty, that the full corporate name should always be used by the corporation ?
Our law provides for no caveat to a petition for charter, as was held in The Gas Light Company of Augusta, et al. vs West
et al., 78 Ga. 318, though in Re Deveaux et al., 54 Ga. 673, Mr. W. W. Garrard, as Amicus Curiae, successfully resisted an application.
Should a caveat not be allowed, either by some person or corporation whose interests are affected, or by the solicitorgeneral on behalf of the State? We think so. The judge should not be put in the embarrassing position of seeming to pry into the purposes of petitioners, or of questioning the propriety of the proposed incorporation, or the proportion between its proposed capital stock and the business to be engaged in, or of whether the powers asked can properly be granted to those who ask them; and sometimes important information could be given him by some one authorized to resist the grant.
When Henry Brown and Jonathan Turner present a petition stating that the capital stock is to be one hundred dollars, but the privilege is asked of increasing it to $500,000,000.00; that the subscribers may pay in money, services or such other property as the board of directors may deem proper; that the business to be conducted is the buying and selling of certain named. things, and it is desired therefore ( ?) that the corporation may have the power to become administrator or trustee, and have the right to acquire, use, sell, or dispose of “any property, real or personal, or mixed, farm and city lands, franchises, options, patents, patent rights, and other things which may be deemed by said company desirable;" no impossible instance is afforded of what it is supposed the judge may grant, nor is it certain, under the looseness of our system, that a judge, not as careful as judges ought to be, would not make the grant, “being satisfied that the powers and privileges asked for come within the purview and intent" of the law.
Again, when certain well known brokers and commission merchants ask that they be incorporated as “The Produce Pro
tective Association”; state that their object is not pecuniary gain, but the maintenance of an association for co-operation and protective and beneficial purposes among the members, to adjust differences between them, spread reliable commercial intelligence among them, and encourage, protect and promote the fruit and produce trade at a certain point; declare that the capital stock is to be twelve hundred dollars; and ask the right to impose and collect fines, etc., from its members; the judge can hardly say that the purpose is not innocent, and the powers such as may not be granted, though he might strongly suspect that he was being invited to assist at the birth of what is miscalled a trust.
Of course there can be little protection when the offense in the proposed name is merely to taste, as when an association of negroes, whose laudable object is to provide a burial fund, and "to do just such business as will uplift fallen humanity" desire to be called “The Weary Travelers Society.”
A not uncommon obstacle met in an effort to collect a debt from a private corporation is to find that the capital stock has been paid for in the services of promoters, and that no visible, tangible assets can be discovered of a concern which has proclaimed itself as having many thousands of dollars paid in capital. We believe that the Code should be so amended as to positively require that at least ten per cent. of the stock subscribed shall be paid in cash, or personal or real property, located within the State, and valued by the clerk of the superior court of the county in which the principal place of business is to be situated. Better to put this duty upon the clerk than to make a "weary traveler” of the sheriff in the attempt to collect office rent or stationery bills.
The average Georgia lawyer grows somewhat restless when