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Proceedings and Debates of the 1850 Constitutional Convention
Volume 101, Volume 1, Debates 320   View pdf image
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320

itself would not be defeated by the manner, in
which it was attempted to be done.
Mr. M. proceeded to show the impracticability
of such a task being performed by the legislature.
He compared the two propositions, (that adopted
yesterday, and that offered by Mr. Dorsey to-
day,) and concluded that the latter proposed to
accomplish the object in the only facile mode in
which it could be effected. In no other way
could a digested system of the statutory laws
ever be made. The work was to be prepared
by men of eminent ability and skill; but before
any binding force could be given to it, it must of
necessity come before the Legislature, for re-en-
actment. If they did not re-enact it, the result
would be that the work would still stand, for con-
venient reference, as an arrangement and digest
of the laws of the State.
Mr. SPENCER offered the following as a substi-
tute for the entire section;
"The style of all laws of this State shall be;
"Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Maryland," and
all laws shall be enacted by bill only,
and no law enacted by the Legislature shall em-
brace more than one subject, and that shall be
described on its title, ana the Legislature shall
at its next session after the adoption of this Con-
stitution, or as soon thereafter as it can be done,
at the expiration of every five years thereafter.
contract with two learned jurists, distinguished
for their industry and professional ability, to di-
gest, abridge and condense and codify, the statute
laws of this State, and with two other equally
distinguished jurists, to simplify and abridge the
rules and practice and pleadings, and proceedings
of the courts of record of this State, abolishing all
special pleading, subject to the approval of the
Legislature."
The substitute having been read,
Mr. CONSTABLE suggested that the first part of
the proposition had already been adopted. The
latter part, (that which related to the codification,)
was new, and for that he should vote.
Mr. PRESSTMAN suggested, that under instruc-
tion from the committee on the legislative de-
partment, he had made a report embracing the
provisions of the amendment of the gentleman
from Queen Anne, [Mr. Spencer.]
Mr. SPENCER said, he was aware that the chairman
of the committee on the legislative depart-
ment, had reported a section pretty similar to
that offered by himself. The report of the gen-
tleman was in the following words:
"That the Legislature, at its first session after
the adoption of the Constitution, shall appoint
one commissioner to revise, digest, and arrange
the statute laws of the State, civil and criminal,
and one commissioner to revise, simplify and
abridge the rules and practice, pleadings, forms,
and proceedings of the courts of record of this
State."
Mr. S. disclaimed any intention to interfere
with the duties or proceedings of the committee
on the legislative department, but the proposition
adopted yesterday, appeared to him to involve
great and interminable difficulty; and he thought
that if some proposition should be offered, em-
bodying something of the report of the gentle-

man from Baltimore city, it might be the means
of effecting a compromise. With that view he
had offered the amendment. It embodied all the
unobnoxious parts of the proposition adopted yes-
terday, and he believed it would disembarrass
the whole question. This matter of digesting
the laws, was a most important and hazardous
undertaking, and it would be dangerous, he
thought, to trust it to legislative enactment. The
learning and skill requisite for the task, could on-
ly be found in the legal profession, and his
amendment proposed that mode of proceeding.
Mr. S. then briefly explained the latter portion
of his amendment, in regard to the simplification
and abridgment of the rules and practice of
pleading, &c.
Mr. SCHLEY offered the follow amendment.
"The Legislature at its first session after the
adoption of this Constitution, shall appoint one or
more commissioners, learned in the law, whose
duty it shall be to revise and codify the statutes
of this State, and one or more commissioners,
learned in the law,, whose duty it shall be to re-
vise, simplify and abridge the rules and practice,
pleadings, forms and proceedings of the courts of
record in this State, and report the same to the
Legislature for adoption, and it shall be the duty
of the Legislature at the expiration of every sub-
sequent period of ten years after the adoption
and promulgation of the code of laws, to have
published and promulgated all the statute laws of
this State then in force."
Which was read.
Mr. S. said, he had yesterday opposed the lat-
ter part of the section, because he thought
that it would produce inextricable confusion in
the legislation of the State—that it would im-
pose on the Legislature a duty which no one
could tell how long it would take to perform. If
codifiers should be appointed by the Legislature,
and one system of laws be arranged, if acode
should be drawn up and formed into articles, the
amendment adopted yesterday would carry out
the design. After having once had the laws codi-
fied, the Legislature would become codifiers
themselves, and by a republication of the laws
every ten years, the public would know what the
laws were. The result would be that the code
of laws would be gradually reduced and simpli-
fied. He referred to the laws of Missouri, as a
beautiful model of a system. He hoped that the
friends of the measure would accept his amend-
ment, and adopt it as a part of their own •propo-
sition.
Mr. STEWART, of Caroline, said it had been
suggested to him yesterday to accept, as a modi-
fication of his own proposition, the amendment
of the gentleman from Washington county, (Mr.
Schley.) He (Mr. Stewart) had declined to ac-
cept it, because he thought it might as well be
offered as an independent proposition. He was
still of that opinion. He regarded it as but one
system for the simplification of the laws. If it
bad not been for the lucid and eloquent de-
fence which the gentleman from Frederick, (Mr.
Thomas,) had this morning made of his (Mr.
S.'s) proposition, he did not know but that he
might have been scared off from his proposition.



 
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Proceedings and Debates of the 1850 Constitutional Convention
Volume 101, Volume 1, Debates 320   View pdf image
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