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ADDRESS

OF

PLATT ROGERS,

PRESIDENT OF THE ASSOCIATION.

Gentlemen of the Colorado Bar Association:

The fifth annual meeting of our Association, which promises to be as satisfactory as those of former years, gives us an assurance that we have reached a condition of permanency and, as I believe, of continuing value as an element in the judicial affairs of the State.

Though we have associated for certain working purposes, our interest in the ends aimed at is largely stimulated by the social features of these annual meetings in accordance with the old maxim that “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”

In a State so large as Colorado, with attorneys widely separated and with different lines of professional work, it cannot be otherwise than for our own and the public good to have these meetings occur. It is well to know who and what we are individually and to discover, by more intimate contact, the many sides of a lawyer's character.

One of the happy features of our former meetings has been the presence of learned and distinguished members of the profession from other States, who have made our meetings memorable, not only by the display of their great powers, but by their geniality and good fellowship. No break in this respect will be permitted.

It is seldom that one may hear a more conservative, profound and discriminating address than that delivered by the principal speaker of last year, and I hope I may be excused if, with the

promptings of local pride, I also recall, in terms of commendation, the addresses then delivered by our members.

The kindly greetings and the splendid addresses of the distinguished jurists of the country who have been our guests at each annual meeting, have certainly tended to spur our energies to the performance of work entitling us to equally exalted positions in the profession. These learned addresses have been well supplemented by the informal gatherings at table or in scattered groups, where the story and jest have furnished merriment for the moment and have doubtless been a fund from which many of us have subsequently drawn in pointing our arguments to court and jury. The lawyer ought to be a sort of compendium or cyclopedia of all the wit and wisdom extant, prepared to eliven his work as an advocate with apt and convincing illustrations.

The charter members of this Association will never forget the initial meeting at Broadmoor, where the good fellowship and rich humor of a justice of our highest tribunal mingled with those of federal and State judges of varying degrees of dignity and salary, and the untitled members of the profession who live in hope that at some time they in their turn may become the oracles of these gatherings. The charm of this annual flow of wit and humor lies in its spontaneousness. In this it differs from the annual address of the President, which is prepared in the quiet and uninspiring precincts of the closet and is therefore doomed to be eclipsed by the first brilliant remark which follows it.

In selecting me to perform this heavy act upon this occasion, I must presume it to have been done with some regard to the element of fitness. I should not like, however, to be heavy even in the deliverance of so ponderous a paper as an annual address. · These are moments of relaxation and I shall therefore aim to be as sketchy as possible, that I may not detract from the joyousness of the occasion. However, the by-laws of this Association subject me to certain limitations, to which, as a law abiding citizen, I must of course submit.

The first and paramount duty imposed upon the President is that he should deliver an appropriate address, with particular ref

erence to any statutory changes in the State, of public interest. This requirement is doubtless based upon the theory that the President of the Association is better qualified than the members to properly weigh and explain the force and effect of any given legislation. As attorneys are prone to find ground for disputation with respect to the meaning and effect of our statutes, it may not be inappropriate to have the matter definitely settled by the annual address of the President.

As our General Assembly can, of its own volition, be in evidence but once in two years, and as that which bears the ominous number thirteen adjourned sine die in April, 1901, in time to receive fitting comment upon its work by my predecessor in office, I was justified in assuming, when I accepted the honors and emoluments of this position, that I would be under no obligation to discuss, nor probably even to observe the enactments of that honorable body. As to its enactment of greatest length and greatest importance, whatever may be its meaning, it has not been observed either by the profession or by others. In resisting the revenue bill of 1901, our railroad friends maintained the reputation which they claim, in the opening of the West, of being pioneers. Whether the foresight of the former act equalled that of the latter, there may be room for doubt. However, the General Assembly of 1901 had scarcely closed its doors when it was mooted that it had adjourned either too soon or too late. If it had continued longer, it was thought it might have done its work better. If it had adjourned earlier, it would have escaped the consequences of that legal fiction by which time is supposed to be arrested in its course by turning back the hands of the clock. However, this latter performance is one which lawyers cannot condemn as wanting in precedent, since it clearly is in accordance with what is said to have happened in the case of Joshua against the Sun, a well-known authority in injunction proceedings.

If our legislators, in the preparation of their bills, were possessed of the privileges of our profession in the securing of stipulations for further time, their work in many instances would doubtless be more satisfactory. The legislature, however, has no power of continuing its existence, except for the very limited period permitted by turning back the hands of the clock. The power of revivification lies with the Governor, who, upon extraordinary occasion, the definition of which he alone can furnish, may call the members together in special session.

As I have already said, the most important bill considered by the Thirteenth General Assembly was House bill No. 1, entitled “An Act in Relation to Public Revenues and Repealing all Previous Acts in Relation Thereto.” As originally drafted, it contained many obviously objectionable features, but, by a process of paring and amendment, it came from the Conference Committee, on the last night of the session, in a fairly acceptable form.

It is needless for me to dwell upon the difficulty of preparing a bill which exacts from the citizens, with evenness of burden, the money necessary to meet the wants of Government; nor need I say that full and complete provision for every existing and accruing obligation of the State is necessary for the maintenance of its honor and our individual self-respect as citizens.

The revenues of the State were confessedly inadequate to meet the demands of our growth and to discharge obligations which, though legally and morally binding upon us, we had been accustomed to cavalierly disregard.

The attempt made by the Thirteenth General Assembly, in the enactment of House bill No. 1, intended, as it was, to provide sufficient revenues and to regain, by the payment of disregarded obligations, the honorable position which we should occupy as a State, therefore fully justified the commendation expressed by my predecessor in his annual address. But as revenue bills, as well as all other bills, must in their scope, as well as their enactment, conform to the requirements of the Constitution, it so fell out that the nisi prius courts, both State and federal, had occasion to declare the act in question unconstitutional in various particulars and for sundry reasons. Whether the Supreme Court of the State as the final judge of all constitutional questions, will sustain the objections so tentatively announced remains to be seen. But with doubts cast upon the Act and the collection of revenue according to its terms prohibited, it became necessary for the Governor to determine whether or not an extraordinary occasion existed requiring the calling of an extra session. After much deliberation by him and the most unrestricted exploitation of the pros and cons by those infallible purveyors of civic righteousness, the newspapers, it was finally decided that, for the second time in the history of the State, the General Assembly should convene in extra session. In his proclamation, after the usual whereases, the Governor directed the Thirteenth General Assembly to convene on the 27th of January, 1902, to transact the following business :

"First-To pass laws providing for the necessary revenue.

“Second To submit to the people a Constitutional amendment relating to the public revenue, and relating to those corporations likely to escape their taxes for the year 1901.

“Third—To enact legislation affecting corporations. .
“Fourth—To enact legislation respecting State Canal No. 3.

"Fifth-To correct the Senate Journal of Senate bill 87, known as the Employees' Liability Law.

“Sixth-To recall or rescind any Constitutional amendments already submitted.

"Seventh-To provide funds for the World's Fair at St. Louis."

The most interesting act, from a historical point of view, was that validating the assessment of corporate property for the year 1901, in that it contains, in the form of the usual whereases, a complete history of the legal tribulations of House bill No. 1 in the District Court of Pueblo County and in the United States Circuit Court for the District of Colorado, and also of the Attorney General and the State Board of Assessors and its clerk in the Supreme Court of the State.

In the Session Laws, as printed, this Act is followed by another House bill No. 1, which, while retaining most of the provisions contained in its ill-fated predecessor, avoided the mistakes of the former so far as they had been pointed out by the courts, and in particular that which had substituted a Board of Equalization selected from all of the Assessors of the State, in lieu of that contemplated by the Constitution.

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