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THE ALBANY LAW JOURNAL:
A WEEKLY RECORD OF THE LAW AND THE LAWYERS.
The Albany Law Journal.
alty. Several other countries, where a milder punishment was substituted for death, were cited as
showing a like result. ALBANY, JULY 7, 1877.
The experience of the State of Maine might have CURRENT TOPICS.
been cited to the same effect. Capital punishment
was in 1837 substantially abolished there, by making THE advocates of the abolition of capital punish1 ment have attempted to bring their hobby into
it optional with the governor whether it should be the English House of Commons, but have been un
inflicted or not in any given case. Most of the gov
ernors exercised the option in favor of leniency, and able to do so. Sir Eardley Wilmot introduced a very
from 1834 to 1864 no execution took place in that mild resolution, hoping, no doubt, to thus get up a
State. Murders however did not cease, but bediscussion upon the subject, which could not in
came alarmingly frequent. The death penalty in its jure and might help the cause he advocated. The
ancient rigor was restored in 1875, and two persons resolution was to the effect “That while it is not
executed thereunder. During the year succeeding possible at the present time to remove the penalty
but one homicide occurred in Maine and the person of death altogether from the statute book, it is de
who committed it immediately killed himself. The sirable to consider whether the laws under which
next year the opponents of capital punishment were offenders are liable to capital punishment should
able to procure a repeal of the law, and in the not undergo revision.” This however led to the
twelve months succeeding there were a dozen murintroduction of an amendment by an opponent of
ders. As this seems to be a uniform experience it the death penalty, who wanted no half way meas
would indicate that a severe penalty attached to ures, to the effect “That it is expedient to abolish
homicide prevents it more certainly than a lighter the penalty of death, and to substitute for that pen
one. The argument that it is certainty not severity alty, in the case of murder, penal servitude for life;
that prevents crime and that a milder punishment in the case of high treason, at the discretion of the
is more certain to be inflicted than a severe one is court, penal servitude for life, or for any term not
the strong one against capital punishment, and this less than seven years." The vote was 50 for the
is met by the results of experience, which show amendment and 61 for the motion, while 155 voted
that under the death penalty murders are much on the opposite side. The attorney-general met the
less frequent than when another form of punishproponents of the resolution by the most effective
ment exists. weapons in such a discussion, namely, statistics. In the earlier history of the movement against capital Our attention was called the other day to an adpunishment the advocates of abolition had all the vertisement in a legal journal wherein an individual statistics, such as they were, upon their side. That professing to be learned in the law, offered his seris the penalty of death had not prevented crime vices or rather his advice to such as desired it, withand presumptively would not in the future prevent out compensation. This to the careless observer it, but it could not be asserted that a milder pen would appear to be a charitable offer on the part alty would not be effective, because a trial had not of one who possessed the skill and acquirements been made. But now several countries have tried necessary for the successful conduct of a litigated the experiment and the result has been that crime matter, but who was not dependent upon the rehas increased instead of diminished. This has been ceipts of his calling for his daily bread, to devote the case in Italy where homicide became frequent himself to the service of those who were unable to immediately upon the abolition of the death pen- | employ counsel that must be paid. Without some
Vol. 16.- No. 1.
knowledge of the world this would be a reasonable is feared that the affair "may result seriously,” by conclusion. But the existence of other advertise- which, we suppose, is meant that one of the parties ments in various papers offering something for may kill the other in a duel or street fight. As we nothing leads us to doubt the entirely benevolent look at it, that result would be much less serious purpose of this advertisement. In reading it there than what has already happened. The gentlemen occurs to our mind the extremely generous offer of who engaged in this melee have done a serious injury the retired clergyman, whose sands of life have to the reputation of the bar of California, and innearly run out, to furnish gratis an unfailing remedy deed to that of the whole country. Not so much for consumption if the address of the one desiring indeed by the first sudden burst of anger as by the it be sent to the office of the advertiser at “Station continuance of the struggle after time and opportuD, Bible House"; or perhaps the equally charitable nity had been given for the cooling of their pasoffer to send to the readers of a given paper $5.00 sions. The court also treated the matter too lightly. worth of jewelry upon receipt of a small sum to The parties, or one of them at least, in the first pay expense of packing and postage or expressage. instance committed a contempt that was deserving Then there is a strange likeness in this offer to that of something more than censure. In this neighin those advertisements wherein the liberal counsel borhood an apology to the court would have been promises to make no charge unless successful, or demanded, and perhaps a severe fine imposed. of another who inserts his card in papers a thou- Some allowance, perhaps, ought to be made for the sand miles away from his place of business, inform- difference in surroundings, but the courts and bar ing the world at large that there will be no publicity in California can no more tolerate such incidents in any business intrusted to him, and that payment than we can here. will be conditional on success, without particularly stating what the business is. We do not say that
A question of some interest to the profession the person who advertises that he gives advice upon
came up in New York city last week, before Mr. legal matters without charge is influenced to do so
Justice Westbrook, in the case of Foster v. Newby any other than the most excellent motives, but
borough. At the trial of the case before a referee, all advertisements of this nature are suspicious and
two attorneys, members of the bar association, were should not be admitted into the columns of a legal
called on to testify as to what took place before journal. All professional notices which announce
them as a committee investigating charges against any thing more than the ordinary business or the
the plaintiff before the association. The witnesses
refused to answer, claiming that the information ordinary methods of doing it are contrary to the
sought was privileged and it would be dishonorable rules of propriety and should not be countenanced.
to make it public. The motion was made to comThe County Court of Los Angelos, California, was pel them to answer, but Judge Westbrook declined the scene, a couple of weeks ago, of one of those
to entertain it. Whether the communications made rare occurrences which now and then disgrace the
to the witnesses, as an investigating committee, legal tribunals of the newer States, and which in
were privileged may be a matter of doubt but they the judgment of foreigners, to a certain extent, ought to be upon the same ground that communiaffect the reputation of the whole American bar.cations made to arbitrators are. See 1 Greenl. Ev , Two lawyers, the newspapers say prominent ones,
$ 249; Johnson v. Durant, 4 C. & P. 327; Ellis v. one being styled Judge and the other Colonel, be- | Soltau, Ib. n. a; Habershon v. Troby, 3 Esp. 38; came involved in a quarrel about the admission of Anonymous, 3 Atk. 644. certain evidence, when the Colonel shook his finger in the face of the Judge. This not satisfying his Scotland is not governed by the rules of the anger, at the next session of the court he struck the common law, consequently, the system of legal Judge, whereupon the Judge knocked the Colonel training in vogue there must be in many cases down. The sons of the respective combatants, who, different from that with which we have here been we presume, were also lawyers, as they were within familiar. There is, however, one thing that we had the bar, followed the paternal example and engaged heretofore supposed the teachers of jurisprudence in a fight, but the sheriff interfered and cut short everywhere to agree in, and that is, that feelings of the combat between the juniors. The judge who national or partisan prejudice should not be inculpresided over the court ordered the removal of the cated as a part of the course of legal study. But contending parties, and forthwith adjourned his Professor Lorimer, of the Glasgow University, does sitting. This did not terminate the difficulty, for not seem to be of that mind, for in bis introductory when the court again convened the contestants, old lecture to the class of public law in that institution, and young, appeared with reinforcements and began which is printed at length, in the Scottish Law to fight again - a cane, a cowhide and a revolver | Magazine, for June, he takes occasion to say some now coming into play. The court was thereupon very severe things in reference to the condition of adjourned for the day. The newspapers say that it l affairs in this country, which entirely misrepresent