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5th District, J. D. Kilpatrick.
No name having been submitted from the 9th District, under the resolution of the Association, I have appointed Mr. H. W. Hill to complete the committee. Pardon this interruption. Is there any further discussion?
Mr. Powell: I would not say anything further upon this subject, but inasmuch as it has been suggested that there may be a difference of opinion that would be raised hereafter, I have thought it best to suggest to this body that such differences be settled upon this forum, and that so far as this body is concerned whenever we go to the General Assembly with our bill, the Georgia Bar Association go as a unit and not as divided men.
I think that Mr. Dessau in his statement has answered successfully the objections made to the bill, but I will add that if the court is made ambulatory, or to hold sessions outside of the capital, sitting in different places in the State, it is certain to create division, create dissension among the different towns. In my district, Albany, Thomasville and Valdosta would each want to be made the seat of the court and that would create rivalry, enmity and antagonism. Atlanta is the seat of the government and has the facilities for holding courts. The State library affords greater facility for study for the members than is possessed by any other city in the State.
As to whether the judges should be elected by the people, I am one of the minority. I am one of those who think that the present mode of electing judges by the people is a mistake. However, I felt it the duty of every member, in the light of what the people of Georgia had declared, to yield these views. When under our Constitution the question of electing the judges by the people in the form of a constitutional amendment was sıbınitted to the people of Georgia, they adopted it and declared it to be the policy of the State. I regard that a sufficient reason why our views upon that question should be sustained.
The next important question that has been suggested, is the right to take cases to the Supreme Court irrespective of the amount involved in the controversy. Upon that proposition we believe that every man has the right to have his cases passed upon by some court of last resort, but it must be remembered that if a new court is to be made, some division of labor must be made. If every case can go to the Supreme Court then there is no need for this intermediate appellate court. There must be a line of division made somewhere. It may be that the first thirteen letters in the alphabet shall go to one court, and tlose beginning with the last thirteen go to the other. It has been customary to adopt the dollars and cents basis of discriminating, and this committee found no better basis of discrimination than the amount involved in the controversy. But let it be remembered that this committee did not deprive any man of the right to take to the Supreme Court directly any question which involved his right to his home, his land, his right to any office that he may aspire to, because any question involving the title to land, or title to any public office can go there; his right to his children and the custody of his wife, because every habeas corpus case can go there; his right to his liberty, because every felony case can go there. In such cases a man can go immediately to the highest court without going first through the appellate court. If his case involves less than one thousand dollars, if it involves new questions of law that it would be of advantage to the State of Georgia to have settled, then it may be considered in the Supreme Court.
Mr. Barrow: Don't you think when you look at this matter judicially that that great army of people in this State, white people, who don't own a foot of land, who haven't got one thousand dollars' worth of property all told, who get paid off every Saturday, that they ought to have the right to go there?
Mr. Powell: Suppose he can go there
Mr. Barrow: There is no reason why a case involving a small amount should not receive the same treatment as a case involving a larger amount.
Mr. Powell: We realize the difficulties—
Mr. Barrow: Take one class of cases that are before me every day, garnishments.
Mr. Powell: If it has in it a question of law, he can take it up and have that question settled in the Supreme Court. If it be a mere question of fact that court ought not to be troubled with the case. We knew that this bill would have to be ratified by the people, and we drew it not as an ideal bill, but we drew it as a practical one; one that would meet with public approval; one that would give back to the people every right that they previously possessed, and one that contained as few objectionable features as possible. Every word of this bill, and when I say every word I say it literally, because it was gone over word by word, was studied, and a single phrase was the subject of an hour spent in debate before the committee. As I said before, if there is a division in this body, let it be debated here and the question definitely settled, and if this committee
has made a mistake, let it be corrected in this Association, and let us not be divided before the General Assembly.
Mr. Barrow: I do not think that I would be doing fair to my own convictions not to raise this objection to the bill, and I offer an amendment to strike out that provision and allow the right of appeal to the Supreme Court in all cases, irrespective of amount.
Mr. Flint: I simply desire to say a few words on a single proposition submitted by Judge Barrow. In the first place, it appears to me that the chief argument in favor of this appellate court, of this intermediate court, is simply, as Mr. Dessau has said, while it relieves the Supreme Court of the immense amount of work thrown upon it, at the same time it relieves the people. Now, Mr. President, the truth about the matter is, and I think it is just as well to meet the proposition fairly and openly, we are compelled to make some distinctions. If Judge Barrow's position is well taken there is absolutely no need for this court. If every case of minor importance, every case involving ten dollars, could go to the Supreme Court under the provisions of this bill, I see no necessity for this court, and I don't believe that we could convince the bar of Georgia and the Legislature of Georgia of the necessity for this intermediate court. That is the proposition, and we might as well meet the proposition fairly and make a distinction. I don't believe that every case of minor importance should go to the Supreme Court. When these small matters are determined and passed upon in the justice court, the city court and superior court, and finally this court of appeals, and that court shall have decided in favor of either the plaintiff or defendant, he ought to be satisfied without carrying it to the Supreme Court where weightier nuatters should come up to be decided. I think there is no necessity for the court if you strike out this provision in this
bill to exclude these minor cases and let every small case go to the Supreme Court. You will never pass this bill and you will never get the relief sought by this bill if you go before the General Assembly with a bill of this nature and say that there is no distinction and that every plaintiff has the right to carry his case to the Supreme Court. You can not convince them that there is any legal sense in that and you can never convince them of the necessity of this court. I say I do not believe that it would have the smallest chance of getting through. I believe that when we grant hearings in the justice courts and superior courts and finally in the court of appeals on these small matters, that ought to be sufficient to convince them that either the plaintiff or defendant is wrong, and that it ought to be an end of small civil cases, and also of misdemeanors. It is a matter of fact, and every lawyer here, every citizen and every layman recognize the fact, that where a man's life is involved, there is more involved than in a petty misdemeanor case where a man may pay a few dollars and relieve himself of the sentence of the court. I say there ought to be a distinction, and we ought to feel no delicacy, and we ought to feel no temerity when duty compels us to make this distinction. There ought to be a distinction in small civil matters. I say to you again that if you engraft the amendment suggested by the gentleman from Chatham on this bill, you might as well table the bill, for there is practically no hope of passing it through the General Assembly
Mr. Akerman: It seems to me that the propositions suggested by my friend Judge Barrow are inconsistent. He appeals to this body for the right of the poor man to carry his case to the court of last resort, and at the same time he has offered an objection to the bill that it allows a man to take a case involving his liberty, a felony case, to the court of last resort.