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barrister, who, after an engagement in a provincial town, stepped into a court room where there was a trial in progress, presided over by a judge of some distinction. Sir Charles sat listening to pass
the time until his train should go, but it was not very long before he was directing the proceedings. He couldn't help himself; he had to inject his own personality into whatever was before him. And it was so with Mr. Pitney.
“So much for him as a man. I do not wish to repeat what has been said, and so well said, by tlrose who have spoken before me; but one thing I will impress upon the younger men who may be listening to me, to which reference was made by Mr. Lindabury, and that is Mr. Pitney's urgent insistence, to every young lawyer who looked to him as a mentor, that he should study his cases. He had a sort of scorn for one who relied upon general experience or accumulation of knowledge. The lawyer must study his cases; there lay the opportunity for success. That was his constant theme.
"Mr. Pitney as an advocate was a gladiator. His intellectual weapon was a broad-sword. He could not understand the man who used a rapier, and when he came in contact with such a one the encounter was not always pleasant. I think that he enjoyed more than with anyone else combat with the elder McCarter, for they were greatly alike. If you look over the reports you will find that in many leading cases they appeared on opposites sides; but that never lessened their friendship. That was the sort of contest he liked best, unless perhaps one with the court; for he had little reverence for office, and if a judge advanced an absurdity he did not hesitate to expose it, in effect if not in words. Plainly do I recall the forensic contests that I have witnessed in this court room in which he so vigorously participated.
“He always desired judicial office; it appealed to him. It has been said that he became a great equity judge, and so he did; but I have always thought that in the common law he would have been equally great. He was profoundly versed in legal history and judicial decisions from the earliest times of English law; but he himself preferred the expounding of equity. When he was appointed vice-chancellor some of us wondered if the appointment were a wise one. It seemed to some of us that he had been too partisan an advocate to make a good judge, but the sequel showed that Chancellor McGill's estimate of him was not a mistaken one. Let me digress a moment to speak of the respect and affection in which he held the chancellor. He regarded him as one of the greatest equity judges of his time, and often so expressed himself. Such a tribute from such a man was exquisite.
“Mr. Pitney was a great judge. He did not always have the judicial manner, but he always had the judicial faculty. He was without intellectual bias. With some of the greatest of judges, one will have an instinct of a bent of mind, but that was not so with Jr. Pitney, except in his inborn hatred of fraud. We could count on it that wherever he found that he would denounce it and punish it if he could; but in other respects the man's mind was absolutely judicial. One did not feel, could not feel, who went before him, that either side of a controversy would not receive complete attention because his bias was the other way.
"Time does not permit me to refer to the important cases in the reports in which he figured as counsel or as judge, as I would like to do; for, after all, it is the record of that character which lives, and all which can live, with a lawyer. The lawyer's fame is ephemeral; the judge's lasts a little longer. It would well behoove some one to point out the great decisions which Mr. Pitney helped to form by argument or delivered as judge. He had certain specialties that were his favorites. In the matter of the legal aspects of hydraulics he stood alone; no one could approach him. In the reported cases in this state will be found many questions of the utmost importance in that direction settled by his argument or by his opinion as a judge. As counsel he was helpful to the court. I remember hearing an eminent justice of the supreme court, since deceased, whose personal relations were not particularly close with Mr. Pitney--for sometimes they rubbed against one another in various superficial ways-speak of him in this regard. He had occasion to refer to the aid that lawyers may afford a court, and he said that during his time no one had been so helpful to him as a judge as had Mr. Pitney.
“As a judge Mr. Pitney had the faculty, as has been pointed out, of comprehending facts. He also had a knowledge of legal and equitable principles, and a willingness to supplement that by a study of adjudged cases; and he was able, therefore, to pronounce opinions, some of which are monumental. He had a rugged diction. He seemed to disdain ornamentation. He used the simplest words and spoke or wrote in the most direct fashion. I do not think he designedly chose Anglo-Saxon words, or tried to avoid ornament in his opinions, but it was characteristic of the man to have a simple style. He could not help that any more than he could help the other manifestations of his character. There was an intellectual virility in his opinions, and he used simple and direct forms of expression. What other judge have we ever had who was able, at the close of an argument, to deliver an oral opinion, on an intricate and difficult question, that was fit to go into the books with scarce an alteration? When his mind was at rest he would announce his decision at once, with a wealth of reasoning and learning. Sometimes he would delay, and elaborate his opinions and cite adjudged cases; but I think that his off-hand decisions, delivered from the fullness of his knowledge, are really better reading than those where he attempted to support, by the decisions of others, the conclusion at which he had arrived. He was not afraid to depart from a beaten track; he was no slave to precedent. If he thought previous decisions here or elsewhere were obsolete, he did not hesitate to take a new departure; and if the court of last resort refused to follow him, he shrugged his shoulders and said the responsibility was on them. IIis reversals were never due to ignorance on his part. He would say: 'I am aware of the doctrine which has been heretofore declared, but it seems to me that we can now take a step forward. I do not mean that he would not follow a binding precedent of his own state. No one was mere alive to the force and benefit of the doctrine of stare decisis. I speak chiefly of a trenil of opinion elsewhere. That would not coerce him to a decision unless it commended itself to his judgment, as applied to the cause before him.
"He, I think, drew the bill which is now the Vice-Chancellor's act, and it fell to his lot to have large part in molding the change from taking testimony before a master to oral trials before a judge. In the conduct of a cause he followed the best English precedents; he followed our own early traditions in the courts of law of guiding the progress of the cause. He was not content to be a colorless judge, but he would see that time was not wasted, that the real facts were brought out. Ile would protect witnesses against adroit attempts to make them seem to testify to that which they did not mean, and that is really one of the greatest functions of a judge-to see that justice is done under the forms of law.
"I could talk long, but must close. It has been said, and rightly said, that Mr. Pitney was no genius, that he had no extraordinary mind, and that we may all, by study and by following the course he took, make ourselves at least proficient in our profession; but he was unique in the characteristics I have pointed out, and as I think of him I say: 'Here was a man, take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again.'”
VICE-CHANCELLOR EMERY said:
"The vice-chancellors have prepared a minute to the memory of Vice-Chancellor Pitney. I will read this on their behalf, and on the reconvening of the court I will request, on their behalf and on that of the members of the bar, that the addresses of the members of the bar and the minute of the vice-chancellors may be inscribed upon the minutes of the court and published in the New Jersey Equity Reports. "To the Chancellor of the State of New Jersey:
“We, the vice-chancellors of New Jersey, desire to mark the passing away of Henry C. Pitney, who was for eighteen years a vice-chancellor, by a testimonial which will express and record our loving admiration and esteem for our departed brother and friend.
“A notable figure has passed from our sight-a striking, forceful, unique personality that for over a half century was familiar to the public view in the discharge of duties connected with the administration of justice. In these, and all other duties, Henry C. Pitney served his age and his time faithfully and well, and then, full of years and of honor, like the patriarch of old, after he had served his own generation, fell on sleep.
“His career on the equity bench was the longest in this court, with one exception, and embraced the greatest service and work of his widely useful life. As he himself said, on his retirement from office on his eightieth birthday, this was the work and labor which he had always dearly loved. And he loved best the branch of equity work to which he was called—the post of judge of a court of first instance and of a trial judge, whose summary hearings and trials in open court bring the judge in living contact with the parties, witnesses and counsel, in the working out of problems of justice developed in the actual conflict with its attendant passions. This branch of equity procedure had altogether developed twenty years after his own admission to the bar, and he had grown up with it.
“His acceptance of this office and splendid administration of it for eighteen years have done much to emphasize and magnify the vital importance and influence of trial courts and courts of first instance in our system of jurisprudence.
“Ilis previous career at the bar had qualified him wonderfully well for the position. He was pre-eminent as an equity lawyer, but he was this because he was first of all thoroughly grounded in the great system of common-law rights—the fundamental, all-pervading system which equity is designed to aid and supplement in order to secure full and complete administration of justice and he was familiar with the full scope of its remedies; as an attorney he was thorough, resourceful and skillful in the preparation and presentation of cases, and as an advocate, powerful alike in the trial and appellate courts. He was equipped besides with a large experience in business and affairs, with wide knowledge of human nature and a keen insight into human character and passions,
“As a judge, his dominant trait was a passion for doing justice, which vibrated in every fibre of his heart and brain. And the justice, at which he aimed, and which so far as in him lay, he wrought out, was the full, complete justice, as he saw it. between the parties on the whole dispute before him, without regard to mere forms of procedure. IIe refused to perpetrate, in the name of law, what he thought to be an injustice, and no matter how just a rule may have been at the time of its origin, he was prepared to disregard it and originate another in its place if it no longer served the end for which it was created. No judge in any of our courts ever showed a more complete selfeffacement in searching for the right of a cause in order to determine what decree would stand firmly on equity and justice. The permanent record of his opinions in the New Jersey Equity Reports yields the finest fruits of learning, industry and splendid intellectual endowments, and his many vigorous discussions of novel, doubtful or complicated questions, both of law and fact, illustrate his powers and the dominant traits of his mind and character, and will constitute a great and lasting monument to his memory. Those of us who follow after this great leader are immeasurably helped and heartened along the difficult way by the many blazed paths which his acute intellect, instinctive sense of justice and great personal characteristics marked out. Many of the striking traits, so familiar to all the bench and bar, cannot be pictured or recalled from his formal opinions, but these will long be perpetuated by the traditions of a profession which treasures what is worth preserving in the lives of its