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would be an improvement in point of certainty and convenience and would be of advantage to the profession and the public. But we urge that this be done with great care so as to avoid the error sometimes found in consolidated statutes, of repeating the precise form of an original act which has ceased to be applicable in that form to existing conditions.
6. CONFERRING UPON COMMISSIONERS OF THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JURISDICTION TO TRY MISDEMEANORS
AND Pass JUDGMENT UPON THE ACCUSED. A bill on this subject, H. R.-15481 was prepared by Judge Trieber of Arkansas and was introduced in the last Congress. A similar bill has been introduced in the present Congress by Mr. Barbour and is H. R. 2870. Judge Trieber informs us that he has come to the conclusion that such a bill would, in effect, make the commissioners judges and would bring them within the provisions of the United States Constitution. Article 3, Sec. 1.“ The judges, both of the Supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices during good behavior, etc.” In this conclusion we concur.
There is no doubt that in many of the districts the business of the federal court is co ested oy reason of the burden of criminal administration which has been put upon the courts by recent legislation. One way to deal with the subject would be to increase the number of United States District judges in the districts where the congestion exists. This may become necessary. Your committee, however, has come to the conclusion that it is inexpedient for us to take any action on the subject at the present time.
7. Loss of CITIZENSHIP' OR OF CIVIL RIGHTS. A bill has been introduced in the present Congress by Mr. Lee of New York, H. R. 5030, proposing to amend Section 335 of the Penal Code, as follows:
Sec. 335. All offenses which may be punished by death or imprisonment for a term exceeding one year shall be deemed felonies. All other offenses shall be deemed misdemeanors.
No trial, plea, conviction, or sentence for any crime shall be deemed to have involved or shall involve and carry with it loss of citizenship or of civil rights, or make the accused a felon or infamous, unless the verdict of the jury or the sentence imposed upon the defendant shall or did expressly specify that the loss of civil rights is to follow or unless the defendant shall or did receive a sentence of imprisonment for more than one year.
All laws or provisions of law conflicting herewith are hereby repealed. All of this bill after the first clause is new.
The bill was drawn by Judge Chatfield of the Eastern District of New York; who speaks strongly of the injustice done under the present law, in many cases.
Under existing legislation the number of petty offenses justiciable in the federal courts has been greatly increased. The deprivation of citizenship or of civil rights is a very serious punishment and there is no good reason why it should be inflicted in cases of violation of law not involving moral turpitude. The Committee, of this Association, on Criminal Law is also interested in this bill and we have been, at their request, cooperating with them in its presentation.
After careful consideration we have come to the conclusion that it would be unwise to leave to the discretion either of the judge or the jury the question as to whether or not in each particular case the deprivation of civil rights should form a part of the punishment for the crime committed. This would involve a diversity of administration in the different districts which would be undesirable and would tend to weaken public confidence in the system which could be administered with such inequality as the exercise of such discretion would produce. On the other hand, we are clear that in cases where the punishment actually inflicted is imprisonment for a year or less, or where the punishment is limited to a fine, there should be no deprivation of civil rights. In cases where the punishment actually inflicted is imprisonment for more than a year, it seems to us just that the deprivation of civil rights should follow. Any special cases where this would work injustice would continue to be dealt with as now by the pardoning power.
We have, therefore, agreed that it would be advisable to amend the bill in question so as to amend the Penal Code as follows:
Sec. 335. All offences which may be punished by death or imprisonment for a term exceeding one year shall be deemed felonies. All other offences shall be deemed misdemeanors.
No plea, conviction, or sentence for any crime shall be deemed to have involved or shall involve and carry with it loss of citizenship or civil rights, or make the accused a felon or an infamous person, unless the sentence imposed upon the defendant shall be a sentence of imprison ment for more than one year.
8. JOINT COMMITTEE OF CONGRESS TO REVISE THE JUDICIAL
CODE. A joint resolution has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Mr. George S. Graham of Philadelphia (H. Con. Res. 10). This provides for a joint Committee of the two Houses, to be appointed to consider what legislation in relation to United States courts, procedure therein and judgments thereof, would tend to improve the administration of justice.”
The Judicial Code is an act prepared with great care. It was approved March 3, 1911, and has been amended several times since that date. It has in many particulars received the construction of the courts, and on the whole, in our judgment, has been satisfactory in its workings. We are, therefore, of opinion that there is no occasion for the appointment of a joint committee to reconsider the whole Judicial Code, as proposed in Mr. Graham's resolution, and that this resolution might be advantageously limited in its scope. We, however, call the attention of the Association to the fact that this resolution has received the approval, and was, as we understand, drawn by “A Lawyers' Committee for Improving the Federal Judicial System,” of which Mr. Thomas B. Felder of New York is Chairman and Mr. William L. Ransom, also of New York, is Secretary. This committee is actively engaged in pressing the subject upon the attention of Congress.
It is of course possible that this joint committee, if it should be appointed, will not undertake a radical reconstruction of the Judicial Code. In our judgment such reconstruction would be unfortunate. On the other hand, it would be quite feasible by separate amendments, such as this committee has suggested from time to time, to make such improvements in the administration of the Judicial system as experience shall dictate. Some such improvements have already been recommended by this Association.
It seems to your committee that the most important subject for inquiry in this connection is the composition of the Supreme Court of the United States. The great extension of federal legislation to many subjects, with which formerly it did not deal, and the many questions of difficulty arising out of the war, have thrown a heavy burden upon that court. This burden could be relieved in one of two ways:
1. The right of appeal to the Supreme Court could be materially limited.
2. Provision could be made for increasing the number of the Justices of the court to eleven, beside the Chief Justice. Six Justices as now would constitute a quorum. (Judicial Code $215.) The concurrence of five should be necessary to render a decision.
The latter method would enable the court to be in session almost continuously, and thus to dispose of a much greater amount of business without impairing uniformity of decision.
A similar provision has for many years been in effect in the State of New York and has worked to advantage there.
We have not prepared any bill upon this subject but we commend it to the serious consideration of the Association and
would be glad to receive instructions as to what action this committee should take in case the joint committee before mentioned should be created by Congress.
The Association will be interested to know, as many of its members already do, that the amendment to the rules of the Supreme Court, recommended by the Association has been, in part, adopted by that Court. Supreme Court Rule 37, Sec. 3, now provides :
Petitions for certiorari may now be submitted “ by the clerk on request of counsel,” without the personal attendance of the latter.
We recommend for adoption the following resolutions : 1. Resolved, That this Association approves the amendment to the bill in relation to removal to the Federal Courts, which is embodied in the proposed bill annexed to the report, marked A. and recommends its adoption.
2. This Association recommends the adoption of the amended bill relating to declaratory judgments, of which a copy is annexed to this report, marked D.
3. This Association recommends for adoption the bill relating to the appellate jurisdiction of the Federal Courts, of which a copy is annexed to this report marked F.
4. This Association recommends for adoption the bill in reference to the loss of civil rights which is proposed by this committee in the foregoing report.
5. This Association recommends such an amendment to the joint
EVERETT P. WHEELER, Chairman,
New York, June 1, 1921.
APRIL 18 (CALENDAR DAY, APRIL 19), 1921. Mr. Nelson introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.
TO AMEND THE JUDICIAL CODE. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That section 28 of the Judicial Code, approved March 3, 1911, is hereby amended by adding thereto the following:
In all cases of removal where the defendant is not a resident of the state, district, or division of the district in which suit is brought, the district court of the United States for the proper district shall be the one having jurisdiction in the district or division thereof where suit is brought notwithstanding any provision of Section 51 of this act.
B. FINAL DRAFT OF AN ACT CONCERNING DECLARATORY JUDGMENTS, ORDERS AND DECREES,
AND TO MAKE UNIFORM THE LAWS RELATING THERETO. PROPOSED BY COMMISSIONERS ON UNIFORM STATE LEGISLATION.
SECTION 1. Scope.-Courts of record within their respective jurisdictions, are hereby empowered to declare rights and other legal relations on petition for such declaration, whether or not further relief is or could be claimed. No action or proceeding shall be open to objection on the ground that a merely declaratory judgment, order or decree is prayed for. The declaration may be either affirmative or negative in form and effect; and such declaration shall have the force of a final judgment, order or decree.
SEC. 2. Power to Construe, etc.—Any person interested under a deed, will, contract, or other written instrument, or whose rights or other legal relations are affected by a statute, municipal ordinance, contract or franchise, may have determined any question of construction or validity arising under the instrument, statute, ordinance, contract, or franchise, and obtain a declaration of rights or other legal relations thereunder.
SEC. 3. Before Breach.-A contract may be construed before there has been a breach thereof.
Sec. 4. Executor, etc.-Any person interested as or through an executor, administrator, trustee, guardian or other fiduciary, creditor, devisee, legatee, heir, next of kin, or cestui que trust, in the administration of a trust, or of the estate of a decedent, an infant, lunatic, or insolvent, may have a declaration of rights or other legal relations in respect thereto:
(a) to ascertain any class of creditors, devisees, legatees, heirs, next of kin or others; or
(b) to direct the executors, administrators or trustees to do or abstain from doing any particular act in their fiduciary capacity; or