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that upon further reflection he would concur with me, that it is better to bear a particular evil than to open the door for general mischief."
Now, I wish to call attention to a further part of that opinion to show the close construction which the judge gives to the statute: “In the first place,” he says, “ I will inquire what is forbidden by the statute."
“No judge or other officer (to whom any fees or compensation shall be allowed by law for any service, shall take or receive any other or greater fee or reward for such service but such as is or shall be allowed by the laws of this State' (2 R. S. 650, $ 5). This prohibits the officer from taking a greater fee or reward for some service rendered by him than the law allows for such service, and it only extends to cases where a fee or compensation is allowed by law for that particular service. It has nothing to do with any service not coming within the fee bill; as where an attorney charges his client for a journey, or for drawing or copying papers for which no fee or compensation has been specially provided by law. For certain services the Legislature has given to officers a specified fee or reward, and bas forbidden them to take more. But where no fee has been prescribed by law the Legislature has not undertaken to say how much or how little shall be charged for any service which may be rendered. That is left to be settled by the principles of the common law.
“ The sixth section provides tható no fee or compensation allowed by law shall be demanded or received by any officer or person for any service, unless such service was actually rendered by him.' This provides for the case where the 'fee or compensation allowed by law,' for some service, had been taken by an officer when the service had not, in fact, been rendered.
“Both sections are confined to cases where a fee or compensation is allowed by law for the service charged; and in such cases the officer is forbidden to take more than the law allows where the service has been rendered, or to take any thing where the service was not rendered. And the violation of either section is made a misdemeanor, and the officer is liable to the party aggrieved for treble the damages sustained. (S 7.) These provisions in relation to the taking of fees in civil cases, apply also to the taking of fees for services in criminal cases. (2 R. S. 753, § 17.)
“If we apply what has been said to the facts as they appeared on the last trial, the plaintiff cannot, in any event, recover but a very small sum under this statute. The charges, which were rejected on
the ground that the services had not been rendered, amounted to only $37. All the other charges, which were disallowed by the circuit judge, were for services which, though actually rendered, were said not to be such services as come within the fee bill.”
Now these were services for subpæna tickets which the district attorney charged for, and yet the judge held that he had a right to charge for them; that they were not within the fee bill, and not being strictly within that, that he had a right to charge for them, and held that the action brought by the supervisors to recover back could not be maintained. It has been decided, too, over and over again, that one board of supervisors cannot act upon what has been acted upon by their predecessors; that the matter having been once before the board, a matter within their jurisdiction, over which they had control, that there can be no action by a subsequent board reviewing or changing that action; now, then, we say that this board of supervisors had no possible power to review or change the action which had been taken in relation to these bills. Such I now suppose to be the settled law of this State.
Now in conclusion, gentlemen, this matter of these charges against Judge Prindle has been one, it seems from the charges they bring here, of some years' standing. The surrogate's office is a public office; the records are always open to inspection. Here are these various acts which it is 'not claimed have been done secretly, but publicly, above board, so that everybody should know of them ; no concealment. Here is this statute which the counsel has cited here, by which not only the county judge, but the presiding officer of every criminal court, is bound to call the attention of the grand jury to extortion. Now, if these are seriously grave charges, unprotected on his part by the law, why has there been this delay? Twice has Judge Prindle been elected by the people of the county of Chenango since some of these charges were made, and since some of these wrongs are said to have occurred. Grand jury after grand jury has sat in your county since these wrongs were alleged to have been done; but it was reserved until last fall, when another election was about to take place, for this matter to be brought forward. In the convention which nominated him, out of sixty-three votes he received on the first ballot thirty-nine, and then after these charges had been paraded before that convention with all the power which man could use, he received an additional vote of ten, making forty-nine out of sixty-three. Unfortunately, my friend upon the other side was a candidate for district attorney, and was not nominated. This was such an election, I will venture
to say, as many of you never saw in a country town; perhaps some of you who live in cities have not seen as bitter an election; but I have never during my life seen one so bitter and so vindictive as the one in which Judge Prindle was pursued from the time of that nomination. Meetings were held all over the county, and addressed by the defeated candidate for district attorney and other men — witnesses here upon the stand — setting forth these charges; affidavits were made and scattered broadcast all over the county; a flaming pamphlet got up, entitled “The Mill of Extortion," and placed in the hands of every man, woman and child, that they could get into the hands of throughout the entire county; and yet, with all these varied efforts and expense of money (as appears here from the evidence), the people of the county of Chenango stood by Judge Prindle and re-elected him for the third time. I tell you, senators, it is not the people of that county that are calling for his removal; it is a few malcontents whose bitter feelings are such to-day that it would rejoice them could they see him strung up to a gibbet. They have sought to destroy him in every way; they sought to degrade him before the county of Chenango by these charges; they sought to degrade him and his office before the board of supervisors — an irresponsible board. They have sought to degrade him here; not by fair evidence for I can call
your attention to this evidence in relation to these charges as to the bonding of the town of Greene and the town of Sınithville, and ask you if there is evidence even to raise the suspicion that Judge Prindle had done any wrong in that? I appeal to you whether there is the least particle of evidence to show that there should have been even a suspicion that he did a wrong in the bonding of these two towns. What does he tell Welch, what does he tell Birdsell ? “I shall give this matter a fair, clear examination, and if it is right that I should decide in favor of bonding that town, I shall do it.” The aid of the grand jury has been sought for the
purpose destroying this man. Day after day was spent by the then district attorney, sitting opposite me, using the entire power of the county for the purpose of degrading and destroying this man and his family. And yet, a grand jury of that county, convened in the ordinary way, refused to be the instruments of vengeance in the hands of these men.
I tell you, senators, that the feeling of the people of that county is such to-day, that, in my humble judgment, it an election were to take place to-morrow, Horace G. Prindle would triumphantly be re-elected county judge. It is not the people that are asking for this removal; it is not a fair minority of the people. It is the men who, as I have said, have pursued him, and who to-day desire to see him and his family degraded and beggars. Why these old charges ? — when the district attorney and others signed a paper, a year ago last fall, after most of the wrongs were alleged to have occurred, in which you will see when it is presented (as we shall present it), in which they ask the board of supervisors of the county to give him $4,000 salary, and say he is an honest judge, he is a faithful judge, he is a hard-working judge! That is the character of the petition. That was the character and standing of the man at that time, and would have been to-day, had there not been other ambitious ones who desired his place. But I have talked longer than I intended to. Now, I desire simply to say, in conclusion, that this investigation to this respondent is a serious matter. It involves his life; his reputation; his all. And we ask yon, senators, in the consideration of this matter, to look at it with the
gravity that it demands; we ask you to hold the scales carefully, and say that this man shall not be stricken down, unless there is ample cause for it; we ask you (as I have no doubt you will do) that you give it that serious consideration which its merits demand, which the consequences to this respondent entitle it to, for, as I have remarked, his all is involved. Some of these charges we do not deny.
We admit the fact of his practicing as a counsel; we cannot deny it, but it was a matter entirely thoughtless with him, without thought that there was such a statute; and I will venture to say that you might have gone through the State of New York previous to this investigation, and nine lawyers out of every ten would bave told you they were not aware of the existence of such a statute.
My friend upon the right (Mr. Mygatt), upon the statute being published in the county paper, “The Union,” asked if I was aware of such & statute, saying that he was not. I read the statute during my clerkship, and I undoubtedly read that section; but the very day before it was published I had an argument, with a gentleman, in which I claimed that a judge had a right to practice in any court not his own. I believed it, and if I had been judge or surrogate, I should undoubtedly, without thought, have taken a case just as Judge Prindle did. Nobody, it seems, thought of objecting to his appearing at the circuit in the trial of these cases. We do not undertake to deny that he has violated the statute in that, but it was no corrupt violation. No thought entered his mind that there was such a statute; and, as I understand him, these men urged him to take this business, and he went on and did it.
One thing has escaped my attention, and that is in reference to our proof in relation to the bonds of this old lady. Now, I start with this proposition in relation to that; there is no legal crime in it, no legal wrong. I believe it is not claimed anywhere that there is a statute which forbids a county judge or surrogate from buying securities. But it will be claimed that he took advantage of his position. Now, I understand the facts of that case to be just these: This old lady came there, had this will proved, and after it was through with she spoke about these bonds, saying she had some bonds to sell and wanted the money on them ; that this grandson was going west the next day and she wanted the money that day very much. Judge Prindle told her there was a premium upon the bonds, and she could get that premium by sending the bonds to New York. He will tell you he did not know that there was any party or any institution in town that bought these bonds. His business dealings were with the bank of Chenango, which bank never bought these securities. He told her she conld get the premium, but she wanted the money then, because she wanted this young man to have it, saying that he insisted he could get for it in the western country twonty or twenty-five per cent. Judge Prindle told her he would buy them of her. The facts are these: He held a mortgage against a man in the town of Norwich that had been due for some years. When that became due he pressed collection; when these United States bonds could have been bought it par; they were at par all around then. He pressed collection, and with the statement to the mortgagee that he desired to place the money which was due on the mortgage in United States bonds; that this man, Dibble, could not pay it; did not desire him to press collection, and agreed that if he would let it stand he would pay him in United States bonds at par. Now, the judge, thinking this a good opportunity for him to get these bonds for Dibble, bought them. These went to pay that mortgage; were indorsed upon that mortgage as part payment. These are the facts, as I understand, in regard to that. He bought them without a thought of taking advantage of his position.
I repeat, gentlemen, this prosecution involves the all of this respondent; his all now and his all in the future of life; his standing with his fellow-men. And we think we shall be able to satisfy you that if he has committed errors at all, they have been errors of the