« AnteriorContinuar »
without extra compensation, expressed his The Albany Law Journal.
hearty sympathy with the movement and his
desire to forward whatever might be in the ALBANY, JULY 13, 1895.
interest of prompt and accurate reporting
of the decisions of all the courts of the State, Current Lopics.
and from that time forward gave every assist[All communications intended for the Editor should be ad
ance in his power to an arrangement which not dressed simply to the Editor of The ALBANY Law Journal. only necessarily deprived him of a considerable All letters relating to advertisements, subscriptions, or other business matters, should be addressed to THE ALBANY LAW income but cast upon him a very considerable JOURNAL COMPANY.]
additional burden. IRAM E. SICKELS, both as a man and a
It is of course as the reporter of the delawyer, is worthy of more than the passing cisions of the Court of Appeals, during a period notice which is necessarily devoted to the vast
of twenty-three years, that his name is majority of our number by way of comment or
familiar to the bar, and it is also in that eulogy.
capacity that it will be specially perpetuated in His manhood stood the stern test of the connection with the law as administered during struggle for the life of the nation and he was
the past quarter of a century by our court of mustered out after three years of service, the last resort. One hundred completed volumes type of the citizen soldier who had become a
of reports, the equivalent of nearly seventy veteran and performed his duty and who gladly thousand pages, have been issued and bear his returned to his responsibilities as a citizen.
name, a larger number than have been edited Warm hearted, kindly yet withal courteous
It is true that one
by any court reporter. and conservative, he was indisposed to mingle hundred and two volumes should bear the name in affairs beyond what seemed necessary by of Freeman's Reports had all the work been reason of his position in the community, yet completed by him, but the fact is not to be
overlooked of the existence of the gap in those was never averse to discharging his full duty in that relation.
reports to be filled by another. As a lawyer, he was known to be painstak
It is not only by the quantity, but also by the ing, careful and industrious. The judicial cast quality of the work by which Mr. Sickels is to of mind with which he was gifted was adapted be judged, and as to this it can in all fairness to the determination of the large number of be said the quality fully equals the quantity, causes disposed of by him as referee, selected and the New York Reports from volume 46 to both by consent of parties and appointment by volume 146 are models of terse, clear and inthe court. This itself was a recognition of the telligent reporting. Not bound down to any legal ability and sterling qualities always sought theory as to how a syllabus should be drafted, for in one selected to act in such a judicial his view was to make it a concise and yet capacity.
reasonably full statement of the rules of law An incident illustrates not only his disinter- laid down in the opinion, and in this, the unestedness where personal considerations were
questioned object of the head note, he succoncerned, but also his pride in his profession, ceeded admirably. The syllabus of the case as and the discharge of his official duties. At the drafted and carefully revised by him contains time the question was agitated as to the pro- the spirit and meaning of the opinion, and visions of law necessary to bring about the
never misleads the student, the lawyer or the publication of the present combined series, judge. Mr. Sickles was consulted by Messrs. Fiero and The bar have thus lost one whose methods Whitaker, the committee of the State Bar Asso- of work in his official capacity were familiar ciation who had the matter in charge, with re and well understood, upon whose care, intelligard to his views of the matter. He very gence and industry they could always rely, and promptly, after stating that the proposed plan one who withal was a sound lawyer, a faithful would involve a pecuniary sacrifice on his part reporter and a high-minded, honorable man. and would also entail upon him additional labor Major Hiram E. Sickels was known by name
Vol. 52 — No. 2.
at least throughout the length and breadth of June 12, 1865, with the brevet rank of captain the country wherever the New York Reports for the gallant and efficient service he had renwere quoted as authority in litigated suits at dered. Returning to Albion, he resumed the law, in questions arising in contested will cases, practice of the law. Desiring a wider field, and in the decision of constitutional questions however, in which to practice his chosen proor the construction of statutes passed from time fession, in 1871 he removed to this city, and to time by the Legislature of the State of New since made it his home. In February, 1872, York. He was a man possessed of legal acu his eminent ability had already become known, men in an extraordinary degree and combined | and a recognition of it was contained in his with it a judicial discrimination and ability that appointment during that month to the position would fit him for a seat on the bench of the of State Reporter, his function being to comcourt whose decisions for the past fourteen pile the reports of cases decided in the Court years he has abridged and compiled into what of Appeals. That position he held without inare known as the New York Reports. Mr. termission until the time of his death. Sickels was reporter for the Court of Appeals,
His thorough knowledge of the law in all its the highest judicial tribunal in the State, and it | branches was so well known and established is generally conceded that he displayed rare that his findings or decisions in a case partake faculty in the collaboration of the decisions of a semi-judicial character, and were generally made in the numerous cases heard before that relied upon as final. august tribunal. He was born June 24, 1827,
Maj. Sickels was the chairman of the State in the village of Albion, Orleans county, his board of civil service examiners from 1883 to father being of old Holland Dutch extraction,
He was also a member of the special and his mother of German. Young Sickels re
water commission and one of the organizers of ceived a general education at
the Albion the Fort Orange club. academy and his diligence in study enabled him on leaving the academy to commence the study of the law in the office of Curtis
The commencement exercises at the law & Stone at Albion, and in 1848 he
schools, and especially Yale and Harvard, have admitted to the bar and commenced the been remarkable for the distinguished gatherpractice of his profession in his native village.ing of judges and jurists who have been preHe continued it until the breaking out of the
sent to sitly celebrate the closing scenes of the
collegiate year. At New Haven Judge Brown, war aroused the patriotic and martial spirit in him as it did in thousands of other men in all
of the United States Supreme Court, made the the varied walks of life, professional and other- principal address before the Yale Law School. wise. In 1862 he assisted in raising the Seven- His subject was “ The Twentieth Century.” teenth Volunteer Battery of light artillery, and The subjects of the oration could not have on August 26th of that year was commissioned been more properly and appropriately chosen, its first lieutenant. He entered the profession and coming as they do from a judge of the of arms with the same zeal and spirit which had highest court in the nation, they echo the sencharacterized his entrance into the legal pro
timents of the judiciary on issues which involve fession. He took part with the battery in the the stability of the government. The first subcapture of the seemingly impregnable Fortject which justice Brown spoke on was MuniciFisher, participated in nearly all the battles pal Corporations, and the principles which he around Richmond, especially in Grant's mas
laid down will be found in the short summary terly movements in front of the rebel capital, which we print herewith, together with a was then transferred with his command to the thoughtful discussion of corporations as monopfront of Petersburg and was in a series of sharp olies and the so-called tyranny of labor. Judge battles, including Five Forks, which resulted in Brown, on these several subjects, spoke as the evacuation of that stronghold and the fall of follows: Richmond, and then joined in the pursuit of “The point I desire to urge upon your attenLee, ending in the rebel chiestain's surrender at i tion is that you are entering the arena of proAppomattox. He was inustered out of service fessional life at a more than usually critical
period. Old things are rapidly passing away, portion of the industrious to the idle? Where and the question presses itself upon us, What would be the incentive to labor? What would will the Twentieth century furnish to take their become of the hundreds of thousands wbo are place?
engaged in providing luxuries for the rich, and "In the domain proper of the law the reforms in ministering to their pleasures? The whole have already been so sweeping that the future fabric of civilization is built upon the sanctity seems to promise more of conservation than of of private property. Were this foundation to change. I look, however, 10 a greatly increased be taken away, the structure would crumble efficiency in the administration of the law, into ruins. which, in many of the States, is most insatis “While it is entirely true that the business factory. I look for the time when the techni- methods of the past thirty years have tended to calities which hedge about the administration increase enormously the fortunes of a few, it is of criminal law will be swept away and every wholly untrue that the poor as a class are either case be squarely settled upon its merits. absolutely or relatively poorer than before.
"If we had more independent judges who The sins of wealth, though many and grievous, could conduct trials, instead of listening to have not generally been aimed directly at the them, and more intelligent juries, there would oppression of the poor. be less complaint of the mal-administration of “While I have no doubt of the ultimate setjustice.
tlement of our social problem upon a reasona“ The important changes of the twentieth | ble and judicious basis, there are undoubtedly century, however, promise to be social rather certain perils which menace the immediate futhan legal or political. While the signs of the ture of the country, and even threaten the stamaterial development and prosperity of the bility of its institutions. The most prominent country were never more auspicious than int of these are municipal corruption, corporate present, it is not to be denied that the tenden- greed and tyranny of labor. cies of the past thirty years, to which I have “ Municipal unisgovernment has come upon already called attention, have produced in state us with universal suffrage, ind the growth of of social unrest which angurs ill for its future large cities and in general seems to flourish in tranquility.
a ratio inactly proportioned to the size of the “The processes
of combination have enabled city. manufacturing and other corporations 10 put
“ The activities of urban life are so intense, an end to competition among themselves by the the pursuit of wealth or of pleasure so absorbcreation of trusts, l'pon the other hand, labor, ing, as upon the one hand to breed an indiffertaking its cue from capital, though more slowly, ence to public affairs, while, upon the other, because less intelligent and alert to its own the expenditures are so large, the value of the interests, is gradually consolidating its various franchises at the disposal of the cities so great, trade unions with the avowed object of dictat- and the opportunities for illicit gain so maniing the terms upon which the productive and fold, that the municipal legislators whose standtransportation industry of the country shall be ard of honesty is rarely higher than the average carried on.
of those who elect them, fall an easy prey to " The reconciliation of this strife between the designing and unscrupulous. capital and labor, if reconciliatiou be possible, “ Though I am unwilling to believe that coris the great social problem which will confront porations are solely responsible for our municiyou as you enter upon the stage of professional pal misgovernment, the fact remains that brilife.
bery and corruption are so universal as to “ Distinctions in wealth within reasonable threaten the very structure of society. limits, so far from being objectionable, are in “Universal suffrage, wirich it was confidently positive blessing even to the poor, in the oppor supposed would inure to the benefit of the poor tunity they afford for a diversity of labor and man, is so skillfully manipulated as to rivet his of talents,
chains, and to secure to the rich man a pre" With no reward for industry and no pun dominance in politics he has never enjoyed unishment for idleness, what would be the pro- l der a restricted system.
Probably in no country in the world is the another corporation, formed of the directors, influence of wealth more potent than in this, which buys the rolling stock and leases it to the and in no period of our history has it been road-so that when the inevitable foreclosure more powerful than now.
comes, the stockholders are found to have been “Mobs are never logical, and are prone to defrauded for the benefit of the mortgagees, seize upon pretexts rather than upon reasons, and the mortgagees defrauded for the benefit to wreak their vengeance upon whole classes of of the directors. society. There was probably never a flimsier Worse than this, however, is the combinaexcuse for a great riot than the sympathetic tion of corporations in so-called trusts, to limit strike of last summer, but back of it were sub- production, stifle competition and monopolize stantial grievances to which the conscience of the necessaries of life. The extent to which the city seems to have been finally awakened. this has already been carried is alarming, the If wealth will not respect the rules of common
extent to which it may hereafter be carried honesty in the use of its power, it will have no revolutionary. Indeed, the evils of aggregated reason to expect moderation or discretion on wealth are nowhere seen in more odious form. the part of those who resist its encroachments.
6. The truth is that the entire corporate legis“The misgovernment of which I have spoken lation of the country is sadly in need of overis so notorious and so nearly universal, that it hauling, but the difficulty of procuring concuris useless to attempt to ignore it, or to expect
rent action on the part of 44 States is apparently that it will cure itself. Whether the remedy insuperable. for all this lies in raising the character of the
"From a wholly different quarter proceeds electorate by limiting municipal suffrage to
the third and most immediate peril to which I property holders, or in government or commis- have called your attention - the tyrrany of
labor. sions, is a question which will not fail to de
It arises from the apparent inability of mand your attentive consideration. The great, the laboring man to perceive that the rights he the unanswerable argument in favor of univer- exacts he must also concede. sal suffrage is, not that it ensures a better or
“Laboring men may defy the laws of the purer government, but that all must be con
land and pull down their own houses and those tented with a government in which all have an
of their employers about their heads, but they
are powerless to control the laws of nature equal voice.
that great law of supply and demand, in obedi"Corporations are a necessity in every civil
ence to which industries rise, flourish for a seaized State. They have a practical monopoly of land transportation, of mining, manufactur: son and decay, and both capital and labor
receive their appropriate reward. ing, banking and insurance; and within their
“The outlook for permanent peace between proper sphere they are a blessing to the com
capital and labor is certainly not an encouragmunity.
ing one. The conflict between them has been “On the other hand, the ease with which going on and increasing in bitterness for thoucharters are procured has produced great abuses. sands of years, and a settlement seems farther Corporations are formed under the laws of one
off than ever. State for the sole purpose of doing business in
“Arbitration is thought by some to promise a another; and railways are built in California solution of all these problems, and where a disunder charters granted by States east of the pute turns simply upon a rate of wages it may Mississippi, for the purpose of removing their often be a convenient method of adjustment. litigation to federal courts.
Yet its function is after all merely advisory. “The greatest frauds are perpetrated in the Compulsory arbitration is a misnomer — a conconstruction of such roads by the directors tradiction in terms. One might as well speak themselves, under guise of construction com- of an amicable murder or a friendly war. pany, another corporation, to which is turned “It is possible that a compromise may finally over all the bonds, mortgages and other securi- be effected upon the basis of co-operation or ties, regardless of the actual cost of the road. profit-sharing, under which every laborer shall
“The road is equipped in the same way—by become to a certain extent a capitalist. Per
haps with superior education, wider experience States on the other ; but this particular trial and larger intelligence, the laboring man of the has focused attention because in it the prisoner 20th century may attain the summit of his am was allowed to give evidence, owing to the bition in his ability to command the entire charge on which he was arraigned. For it so profits of his toil.
happens that a few years ago an addition was “In dealing with the evils which threaten made to the statutes, which, while creating a our future tranquility you ought to find and new class of offenses, provided that persons acdoubtless will find, an efficient coadjutor in a cused of them should be allowed at option to free press. Indeed, the bar and the press are
make themselves witnesses. And the people the great safeguards of liberty - its influence are now asking, "Why should this man be upon public opinion – we are led to regret that allowed the privilege of giving evidence, and a such influence is not oftener exerted in the man accused of murder not be allowed ?' And right direction. But with all their faults, news there is no answer. There can be no answer, papers are indispensable, and life would lose no real answer. half its charm without them. Let it be said to "No doubt lawyers, read and brought up in their credit that in times of great popular out the atmosphere of the courts, will contest this. cry against abuses their voice is generally upon They urge that an accused person more often the side of reform.
does himself harm than good by speaking, and “ It has been given to the 19th century to that, therefore, he should be forced to remain teach the world how a great republic can be silent. It is probably true that the majority of founded upon principles of justice and equality; persons brought to trial are guilty. No one it will be the duty of the 20th to show how it ever heard of an innocent man injuring his can be preserved against the insidious encroach-cause by telling the truth. And, therefore, ments of wealth, as well as the assaults of the when the prisoner helps to convict himself he mob.
is furthering the cause of justice involuntarily. “Freedom and injustice are ill-mated com Is this to be regretted ?
Professional lawyers panions; and at the basis of every free govern- in England argue that it is. Why do they so ment is the ability of the citizen to apply to the argue ? Because with them the professional courts for a redress of his grievances and the instinct and tradition is far stronger than the assurance that he will there receive what justice | love of justice. This may seem a hard saying, demands. So long as we preserve the but it is absolutely true. It is the feeling of purity of our courts we need never despair of the fox-hunter who considers it a crime for the the republic."
farmer to shoot a fox, however much harm it A very interesting letter was recently pub- may have done to the poultry yard, since, in lished in the Mail and Express, under date his eyes, all foxes should be preserved in order of London, which discusses the English judi- to afford sport to the hunt. Your English lawcial system. The comparison of the English yer looks upon a trial as a duel between coun
sel. system with our own presents some consider
If the prisoner has the better tongue on
But he ations which will be of benefit, if they should , his side, so much the better for him.
must not himself have a voice in the matter, result in the improvement of each, and for that reason we publish the letter, which runs as fol- not though his life, his reputation and everylows:
thing dear to him, is at stake. Can anything "A criminal trial is just over in London which be more barbarous ? has brought into strong relief that which is, “Till quite lately the accused was not even perhaps, the greatest defect in the English allowed to make an unsworn statement, but judicial system, viz., the forbidding an accused that has been altered, and a prisoner is now at person to give evidence on his own behalf. liberty to tell his own story, to give his own The point has, of course, often been noticed version of the transaction, but not on oath, and before, and invidious comparisons drawn be- not subject to cross-examination. Obviously tween the English system on the one hand and what he says in his own favor under such conthe systems which obtain in most of the United | ditions cannot often count for much. Still there