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RULE DAY CLUB

Blame It All On Nero:

Code Creation and Revision in Maryland

The Honorable Alan M. Wilner

February 14, 1994


Those of you who are blessed with special powers of observation and with a particularly keen visual acuity may have noticed an evolving change in the color scheme of those sections of your bookcases wherein is stored the Annotated Code of Maryland.

To be sure, the change, from dreary black to passionate red, has not been a particularly swift one; yet, it is happening, inexorably, like the melting of the glaciers.

This is the result of a grand project begun in 1970 that its progenitors -- several of whom are members of this Club -- confidently assured the world would take but five years to complete. The history of this project and how it has progressed, I thought, may be of some interest to you -- or at least to those of you who have some interest in just about anything.

Actually, this paper will go beyond merely the current Code revision effort. Indeed, I want to start with 1776, when Roger Redden and Shale Stiller were still very young. When Maryland declared its independence from England, one of the many nitty-gritty things the founders of the new State had to contend with and resolve was what body of law would exist within its borders. Having abrogated the political institutions of the mother country -- Parliament, King, and an aristocratic caste system -- were they willing to abide by the body of law that had been created by or that was based upon those institutions? Were they willing to accept any part of it, and, if so, what part? Should that part be rewritten into the new law of the State or simply incorporated by reference?

These were questions that all of the former colonies had to face. In Virginia -- the largest and supposedly the most progressive of the new States -- a Commission, chaired by Thomas Jefferson and including as members George Wythe and George Mason, was appointed by the Legislature to deal with the matter. The Commission worked for two years, from February, 1777 to February, 1779, and decided actually to create a code of Virginia law. In his autobiography, Jefferson wrote that the Commission drafted 126 bills which codified "so much of the Common law as it was thought necessary to alter, all the British statutes from Magna Charta to the present day (i.e., 1779), and all the laws of Virginia from the establishment of our legislature . . . to the present time, which we thought should be retained."

Jefferson recalled that, though paraded out from time to time, the 126 bills were essentially ignored by the Virginia legislature until 1785 when, "by the unwearied exertions of Mr. Madison, in opposition to the endless quibbles, chicaneries, perversions, vexations and delays of lawyers and demi-lawyers, most of the bills were passed by the legislature, with little alteration."

As an interesting aside, the Virginia Commission decided not to attempt to revise the language of the ancient British statutes, the text of which, Jefferson later wrote, "had been so fully explained and defined, by numerous adjudications, as scarcely ever now to produce a question in our courts." He had a different view about the more recent Acts of Parliament, however. As to them, he said that

"from their verbosity, their endless tautologies, their involutions of case within case, and parenthesis within parenthesis, and their multiplied efforts at certainty, by saids and aforesaids, by ors and by ands, to make them more plain, are really rendered more perplexed and incomprehensible, not only to common readers, but to the lawyers themselves."



No similar effort was made in Maryland. Instead, the drafters of the first Maryland Constitution simply placed into art. 3 of the Declaration of Rights, a statement that the inhabitants of Maryland were entitled to the common law of England,

"and to the benefit of such of the English statutes, as existed at the time of their first emigration, and which by experience have been found applicable to their local and other circumstances, and of such others as have been since made in England, or Great Britain, and have been introduced, used, and practiced by the courts of law or equity; and also to all acts of assembly in force on the first of June [1774], except such as may have since expired, or may be altered by acts of Convention or this Declaration of Rights."



That was OK as a general statement, but it wasn't very helpful when it came to ascertaining, in more precise terms, just what statutes were really in force. In 1794, the Legislature, with some ambivalence, authorized the first incipient effort at code-creation.

The real impetus for this came from the House of Delegates, which adopted a Resolution decrying the fact that the laws of the State were, "from a variety of causes, confused, uncertain and contradictory," noting that "[a] proper revision of the same might greatly tend to the security and preservation of the lives, liberty and property, of the good people of this state," and naming five notable citizens -- Philip Key, Samuel Chase, William Pinkney, Luther Martin, and Alexander Hanson -- as a commission to "revise the existing laws of this state." The Resolution would have authorized this panel to "compile, digest and consolidate into one bill, all acts of assembly and British statutes, or all such part or parts of such acts or statutes, as are now in force in this state, which relate to the same subject, and which may, with propriety, be reduced under one general title."

The Senate refused to go along with the Resolution and, instead, agreed with a much more limited approach that had been taken by the House a year earlier, namely, to authorize the Chancellor, the judges of the General Court, and the Attorney General to report to the Legislature simply which English statutes were in force.

The House did not relent from its desire to have something more approximating a real code. In 1798, it appointed William Kilty, who had started out as a surgeon but then moved to Annapolis to practice law, to revise "the acts of assembly of this state." The revision was to include the text of all public acts then in force, in chronological order from their date of passage, from 1692 through 1799. It was also to include the title of each Act that had been repealed or that had expired, with the date of the repeal or expiration being noted in the margin. The State printer was authorized to print 200 copies.

Kilty published his compilation, in two volumes, in 1799. In conformance with the Legislative Resolution, it contained the Maryland Charter, the Constitution and Declaration of Rights, and a compilation, in chronological order, of the laws passed by the Provincial Assemblies and the General Assembly from 1692 through 1799. Thereafter, that work was periodically supplemented, bringing it through 1812.

There was also published in 1799 an alphabetically arranged Abridgement of the statutory law. The author was one Thomas Herty, who dedicated the work to Luther Martin, then the Attorney General of Maryland. It is not clear how many copies were published or just how abridged the statutes were. The arrangement is very much like a Code, and, compared with Kilty's work, should have served as a useful tool for discovering what statutes were in force, but I can find no reference to it in any of the literature or subsequent legislative or Constitutional debates. A copy of it may be found at the State Library and at the Hall of Records.

In 1811, Virgil Maxcey published a 3-volume work summarizing the laws passed from 1692 through 1809 and containing an index to those laws organized by subject matter. In 1820, at the invitation of the Senate, Kilty, joined by two other gentlemen, Thomas Harris and John Watkins, published an index of the laws enacted from 1799 through 1818.

Although the Kilty and Maxcey compilations were of some value, the House continued to receive complaints about the difficulty in finding the law. In 1825, it pressed again for a commission to prepare a more complete code and, by Resolution No. 95, requested the Governor to employ "two competent persons to revise, digest and collate all . . . public acts of assembly of this state, as are now in force."

The Resolution directed that the codifiers "carefully collect and reduce under one head the different acts and parts of acts, which, from the similarity of the subjects to which they relate, ought to be so arranged, distributing the whole under such titles, divisions and sections as they shall think proper." They were charged with identifying and omitting from the Code all acts or parts of acts that had been repealed, or that were repugnant to the State or Federal Constitutions, so that the revision would be in such manner as "shall seem most useful and proper to render the said acts more plain and easy to understand."

The Senate apparently did not assent to this Resolution, and nothing ever came of it. In 1834, the House again called for the appointment of someone to prepare a proper digest of the laws, and, indeed, some work on a topical code had been commenced by the State Printer, Jeremiah Hughes.

At some point, Clement Dorsey, then a judge of the Court of Appeals, expressed interest in the project. In a Resolution adopted in 1837, the General Assembly authorized the State Library to purchase 250 copies of Dorsey's proposed compilation, at $10/copy, provided that the job was finished within two years and provided further that, before payment was made, the compilation was approved by three other judges of the Court of Appeals. Two years later, it authorized the Library to purchase 500 copies, and it has been reported that Judge Dorsey was eventually paid $12,500 for his effort.

The Legislature monitored the work. In the 1838 session, a legislative committee noted that the maxim ignorantia legis excusat neminem "imports the evident propriety of enabling the citizen, in the most easy mode, to acquire a knowledge of the laws, by which he is governed" and that it was tyranny, reminiscent of Nero issuing edicts while perched upon the pinnacle of a column, to punish people for infringing upon laws which they had no means of becoming acquainted with. That, my fellow members, is what accounts for the title to this paper. There will be no further reference to Nero or any other Roman emperor. That also ends any use of Latin.

[As an aside, let me say that, although Nero was a peculiar duck who did a lot of strange and cruel things, I am unable to find any reference to his sitting on a pillar issuing edicts that only he knew about and then punishing people for violating them. Neither Michael Grant, Will Durant, nor Victor Duruy make any mention of that in describing his reign. Nor does Seutonius, who supposedly cataloged all of the indiscretions on the part of the Roman aristocracy. The House of Delegates believed it, however, and was moved accordingly, which brings me back to the main story.]

At long last, in 1840, Judge Dorsey produced his code, in three volumes. Volume 1, containing the public general laws from 1692 through 1839, simply set them out in chronological order, as the previous digests had done. There were some marginal notes and annotations that apparently made them more useful, but it was still not a code in the true sense. Volumes 2 and 3 contained the public local laws, and there Judge Dorsey made an effort to arrange them under alphabetical and topical headings.

It is important to note that these various compilations and digests were not true codes. The actual statutes, which constituted the law, were scattered in many volumes. When a law was repealed, the Legislature simply passed a law saying that the former law was repealed. If it wanted to amend a statute, it passed a new statute saying stating that the existing statute was "supplemented" in the manner set forth. Kilty's, Maxcey's, and Dorsey's works were helpful only to the extent that (1) they were kept up to date, and (2) through the index, one might find what parts of the hundreds of session laws were still in effect. Unless a later enactment dealing with a particular subject referred specifically to an earlier Act dealing with the same subject, however, it would have been a tedious task or a matter of pure luck even to find both statutes, much less to reconcile them.

It was in 1851 that the first true code creation effort was mandated. At the Constitutional Convention held that year, one of the delegates commented that Judge Dorsey's compilation -- the latest in existence -- was " a very imperfect work." He continued that "no prudent member of the profession would undertake to say what are our statute laws on any particular subject, after having consulted this compilation of Judge Dorsey alone." What he wanted, and what the Legislative subcommittee had proposed, was a true Code, not just a digest or index.

That view prevailed, and in art. III, § 17 of the Constitution drafted and ratified that year, the Legislature was directed, at the first session following ratification, to appoint two commissioners learned in the law to revise and codify the laws of the State. Upon adoption of such Code, the Constitution said, "it shall be the duty of the Legislature, in amending any article or section thereof, to enact the same as the said article or section would read when amended." Further, the Constitution directed that when enacting any public general law not amendatory of a current section of the Code, the Legislature was to enact the same in articles and sections, in the same manner as the Code was arranged.

As another aside, the 1851 Constitution also directed the creation of the first Rules Committee. In the same art. III, § 17, it directed the appointment of one or more commissioners learned in the law to revise, simplify, and abridge the rules of practice, pleadings, and proceedings of the Courts of record.

The Legislature carried out its Constitutional mandate. At its 1853 session, it appointed Otho Scott and Hiram M'Cullough as commissioners to prepare a Code, and that they did, although it took seven years to complete. The Code was in two volumes, one containing the public general laws, in articles and sections, arranged alphabetically, and one containing the public local laws, arranged by county, alphabetically.

The Code proposed by Scott and M'Cullough was adopted by the General Assembly in 1860 "in lieu of and as a substitute for all the Public General Laws, and the Public Local Laws heretofore passed by the Legislature of Maryland." That Code, then, became the law of Maryland. All prior enactments were repealed. If the statute wasn't in the 1860 Code, it no longer existed. The Code of Public General Laws contained 98 articles, in alphabetical order.

Although this Code replaced all previously enacted statutes, it was not intended to change the substance of the prior law, but simply to collate and reorganize it. Indeed, it was in connection with this Code that the Court of Appeals first enunciated the principle that mere changes in phraseology in a code revision effort would not be taken as a change in substance. In Crow v. Hubard, 62 Md. 560 (1884), the Court disregarded a change in language made by the Code with respect to an 1849 statute, noting that one of the objects sought by a codification is "the rejection of all superfluous verbiage, and the obtension of a compact but intelligible statement of the law."

Once the 1860 Code was adopted, the Legislature made an effort to keep it up to date. Annual supplements were published through 1865, but by 1868, they were out of print. In that year, Lewis Mayer, a Baltimore attorney, prepared a cumulative supplement of all laws passed since 1860. One new feature of his supplement was a table of contents, by section number, at the head of each article. Another update was published in 1874 by a Baltimore lawyer named Joseph Thomas.

In 1878, Mr. Mayer and two other gentlemen, Louis Fischer and E.J.D. Cross, prepared a new Code of public general laws, divided into 74 Roman-numeralled titles that were topically related, within each of which were one or more arabic-numbered articles. Thus, for example, Title IX, entitled Oysters, Fish and Fisheries, Wild Fowl and Game, had within it 3 articles, one captioned "Oysters," a second captioned "Fish and Fisheries," and a third captioned "Wild Fowl and Game." Unlike the 1860 Code, this revision was not "adopted" by the Legislature, but simply "legalized" and deemed as "evidence of the articles and sections of the present Code." The 1860 Code remained the basic law.

In 1886, the General Assembly decided that a new Code was in order. This was to be, like the 1860 Code, a bulk revision -- an actual replacement of the existing law. By statute, it appointed John Prentiss Poe as official Codifier and directed him to present to the next session a Code of public general and public local laws upon the general plan of the 1860 Code. With that draft, he was also to submit such proposed amendments to the several articles and sections "as he shall deem desirable," provided that those amendments were first submitted to a commission of three lawyers in private practice, of recognized ability and learning, selected by the Court of Appeals, "whose duty shall be to examine carefully and critically the work so submitted" and report to the Legislature the result of their examination.

Mr. Poe presented his draft, which had been approved by the three lawyers appointed by the Court -- John Crisfield, Julian Alexander, and William Fisher -- in 1888. The legislature, by statute, adopted the Code "in lieu of and as substitute for all Public General Laws and Public Local Laws of this State." Like the 1860 Code, and unlike Mr. Mayer's work, it was organized into alphabetically arranged articles -- 100 in number -- with little effort at topical grouping.

One helpful innovation introduced in Mr. Poe's Code was a reference to the legislative history of each section. Above each section, he noted the session law that first enacted the statute and each session law that had amended it. That was not in the 1860 Code.

The 1888 Code was the last Code actually adopted as the law of Maryland. All subsequent code revisions have merely been "legalized" by the Legislature and declared to be evidence of the law, not the law itself. Technically, I suppose, the 1888 Code still constitutes the law of Maryland, except to the extent it has since been amended or repealed.

There were, prior to Messrs. Stiller, Redden, Adkins, and company getting into the act, six further revisions of the Maryland Code. Mr. Poe prepared a new Code in 1903, but most copies of it were destroyed in the Baltimore Fire of February, 1904, and so he republished it later in 1904. In a preface, Poe observed that the Legislature had not been particularly diligent in obeying the mandate of Art. III, 17 -- that, in amending existing articles, it had often used wrong numbers and lettering, and that it had amended existing articles and sections "without any allusion whatever to those articles and sections." In preparing his Code, he attempted to put all those laws in their proper places.

Some of the new laws, Poe decided, would not fit well within any of the existing articles, and so he created several new articles. Rather than change the article numbering system of the 1888 Code, however, he gave these new articles Roman numerals followed by a capital A, so that, for example, the article on State Aid and Charities was Article LXXXVIII A. That, no doubt, was enormously helpful.

Not too long after the publication of his 1904 Code, Mr. Poe was called to that Great Code Revision Room in the sky, and his place was taken by one George P. Bagby, a Baltimore lawyer. In 1911, Mr. Bagby prepared a new Code, based on the 1904 Code but adding one new, very useful feature. It was the first Annotated Code, in which, under each section, he cited each Maryland, Supreme Court, and other Federal case actually referring to that section. He made clear that his annotations were not intended as a digest and did not include cases simply bearing on the statute, but only those actually referring to it. Another innovation was that Bagby copyrighted the Code. Just what the copyright extended to I am not sure, but it likely included, at the very least, his annotations. Each subsequent Code has been copyrighted by its publisher, including the current one, and, indeed, that has presented some interesting questions as other publishers put the Code on computer or CD ROM. Michie, for example, claims a copyright, not just on the Annotations, but also on the tag-lines, and so West, in putting the Code on Westlaw, has had to create a new tag-line for each section.

The 1911 Code did not include the criminal laws. Those laws were recodified by Bagby in 1914. Bagby came out with a revised Annotated Code in 1924, which served the State until 1939. In that year, Horace Flack published a new Code that followed the organization and numbering of the 1924 Code, except that it added a few new articles. Dr. Flack, who had received his PhD from Hopkins, had been hired by the Baltimore City Council in 1906 to develop the Baltimore City Department of Legislative Reference, and he became its first director. In 1916, when the State Department of Legislative Reference was created, Dr. Flack became director of that as well. He and his minuscule staff moved to Annapolis while the Legislature was in session and then returned to Baltimore to continue their duties for the City Council. Flack also published an up-dated Code in 1951.

In 1957, the Michie Company, which had purchased Dr. Flack's copyright following his death, published the most recent complete Code. It followed the 1951 organization but rewrote and supplemented the annotations. It also added to the legislative history material noted with respect to each section the articles and sections of the previous Codes where that statute was found. In an obvious effort not to change the article numbers used in the 1951 Code, the 1957 Code, even as first adopted, had 40 articles designated by an A or B following the number and three in which the article number was followed by the fraction, 1/2. The most prominent, you may recall, were the motor vehicle laws, codified as art. 66 1/2.

By 1970, exacerbating the A's, B's, (and by then C's as well) and 1/2's was the fact that 19 of the article numbers had become vacant through repeal of the article or its incorporation into another article. There was, of course, no rational, overall topical treatment of the material. Moreover, some articles were extremely long, while others were very short. Art. 66C on Natural Resources, for example, had some 800 sections, whereas art. 3, entitled "Aliens," had but one section five lines long.

Apart from the irrational organization of the Code, there had been no real examination of the laws themselves since 1888. Many of the sections were very long and convoluted, embodying all of the deficiencies Thomas Jefferson noted in 1776 with respect to the British statutes. Many of them were inconsistent with other statutes located in other articles. Some were internally inconsistent.

I am informed by Mr. Stiller -- and no one has yet refuted his statement -- that what eventually led to the current Code Revision effort was the unexpected success he and Honorable Redden had in 1969 in persuading the Legislature to pass the Henderson Commission bill rewriting, in both form and substance, the laws on decedents' estates, and the companion bill, drafted by a committee of the State Bar Association, similarly rewriting the law on guardianships. Flushed with that important, but limited, achievement, they, directly or through intermediaries whose identities shall remain unrevealed, persuaded Governor Mandel to undertake a complete rewriting of the entire Code.

By simple letter -- not even an Executive Order -- the Governor, on July 16, 1970, created the Commission to Revise the Annotated Code. It was an impressive group. The Commission was chaired by Senate President William James and contained the likes of Messrs. Redden, Stiller, Sykes, Lord, and Ramsey, Jerry Powers, Jack Eldridge, Jim McSherry, Phil Dorsey, Carl Everstine, and Dave Cahoon. Bill Adkins was the first Director. His first assistant was Bruce Bereano.

Unlike the Henderson Commission work, it was made clear at the outset that this revision was to be a "formal," but not a substantive one. The first Revisor's Manual, established to guide the effort, noted that the effect of the law on any particular subject was not to be altered by the Commission. The Commission resolved early in its work to adopt a topical, rather than an alphabetical, approach and to arrange the Code by Article, Title, Subtitle, and Section. The titles would be consecutively numbered throughout the article, and the subtitles would be consecutively numbered throughout the title. By using a multiple-significance dash system, the sections would reveal the title and subtitle to which they belonged. Section 3-205, for example, would indicate that the section was in title 3, subtitle 2 of the article and was the fifth section in order under that subtitle.

An early part of the Commission's job was to develop a Style Manual that would not only guide the rewriting of the Code but would then be used by the Department of Legislative Reference in drafting all future statutes. That Manual has itself been revised several times. The Style guidelines in the 1973 edition comprised 21 pages; the 1985 edition comprises 101 pages. Our newer laws at least have greater, if not better, style.

The Commission went at its work with great confidence and enthusiasm. In April, 1971, it adopted a five-year plan for completion of the project. Two articles -- Courts & Judicial Proceedings and Natural Resources -- were to be completed in 1971. In 1972, nine articles were to be finished -- Taxation and Revenue, Property, Education, Public Health, Public Safety, Family Law, Commercial Law, Local Government, and Social Services. 1973 was to bring nine more, and indeed really to finish the actual revision of the public general laws. It was anticipated that in 1974, the Legislature would adopt the entire work, as it had in 1860 and 1888, as the actual law of Maryland, "to stand in lieu of all prior public general laws, subject to specific savings provisions." In 1975, the public local laws would be revised.

The initial plan proved to be not merely optimistic, but absurd. The two articles scheduled for 1971 were not ready until the summer of 1973. Three of the articles scheduled for 1972 -- Public Safety, Local Government, and Social Services -- have yet even to be started and, indeed, will not be started until sometime after 1997. That applies as well to the Criminal Code and the alcoholic beverage and election laws. Even the initial Style Manual, which was to be completed within a month, has, itself, been under periodic revision, including wholesale revisions in 1983 and 1985.

In 1972, the Legislature blessed the effort by creating a Division of Statutory Revision within the Department of Legislative Reference, to be headed by the Revisor of Statutes. That unit was to be the staff to the Commission. I was privileged to join the Commission in 1973, in place of Jack Eldridge.

There was, as I indicated, a lot of enthusiasm in those early years. The Commission met regularly to review staff drafts; attendance was good and the members contributed a great deal. There was a lot of input into the initial articles from persons and groups affected by them and, according to Judge Adkins, there were over 21 hours of joint legislative hearings on the Courts article alone.

As time went on, however, interest began to wane. The process is a very tedious and time-consuming one. For each article, once its organization is decided upon, the staff prepares thousands of pages of material, showing each section, or part of a section, of current law, a proposed revision of it, and a proposed Revisor's Note indicating the changes. Some current sections are broken apart and placed in two or more new sections. Sometimes, sentences and even clauses are split, because they contain more than one complete thought.

Keeping track of all the current law, to make sure none of it gets lost in the cracks, is not easy; indeed, for everyone involved in the process, it requires incredible concentration and diligence. Each word, each phrase, needs to be examined, both for its intrinsic meaning and for its relationship to other words and phrases which may have been added to the Code at the same or at different times. When apparent conflicts between passages are noted, one has to attempt to divine what the legislative intent was, if, in fact, there was any ascertainable intent.

It quickly became obvious that neither the staff, the Commission, nor the Legislature could handle more than one or two articles a year, and, indeed, there have been some years when no articles were forthcoming. The Commission began to operate through subcommittees, appointed from among its members, to act as article committees to review the staff drafts. That created a double-level of review, first by the subcommittee and then by the Commission, which added even more delay.

Regrettably, by the end of the 1970's and into the 1980's, interest had flagged to the point that only two or three people not otherwise on the article subcommittee bothered to attend the full Commission meetings. Billy James and Frank Olmstead were usually the only members not on a current subcommittee who showed up all the time. There really was no second level of review, as a practical matter. Progress was so slow that Ben Cardin, when Speaker of the House of Delegates, once threatened to spray-paint all the remaining black volumes red and declare the work complete.

By 1985, even Mr. James was beginning to lose interest. If the project were to continue -- and, for a while, there was some debate about that -- it was evident that new blood and energy had to be infused into it. After several conversations that I had with Bill Adkins and Carvel Payne, the Director of Legislative Reference, it was decided to abolish the Commission, put the project under the aegis of the Legislative Policy Committee, and create a new organization. Instead of a permanent Commission overseeing the actual drafting of every article, the Legislative Policy Committee appointed a smaller oversight committee to plan the sequence of revised articles and generally to superintend the progress of their preparation. For each article, however, a separate article review committee would be appointed, consisting of not just of oversight committee members, but of persons having some particular interest or expertise in that subject matter recruited specifically to work on that article. That way, not only could some greater interest and expertise be brought into the work, but the commitment would be finite, usually two years. The separate division within the Department of Legislative Reference was also abolished, and, instead, the staff work is done by personnel selected from within that Department. For each article being undertaken, the Director appoints an article supervisor and assigns several draftsmen to work with that supervisor.

That is how the project has proceeded since 1985. Bill Adkins became the first chairman of the oversight committee, and, when he retired to Massachusetts, I assumed that role. Roger, Shale, and Lowell Bowen are also members. Lowell, by the way, superintended the production of the Business Regulations and Labor and Employment articles. Shale was instrumental in supervising the writing of the Tax articles. .

To date, 20 articles, in 23 volumes, have been produced. This session will see the revision of the State pension and retirement laws, followed next year by the State Ethics law. 1996 through 1998 are committed to a revision of the State Insurance Law, which is an incredibly complex task. Looking ahead, we persuaded the Legislature to create a special committee, chaired by Judge Joseph Murphy, to start going through art. 27 -- the criminal code -- to do some substantive cleanup before Code Revision turns to it. So far, that has produced a good revision and consolidation of the arson and burglary laws. Next year, they will turn their attention to the assault and possibly the weapons laws.

In the 21 years I have been associated with this project, I have come to appreciate how very difficult this task really is. As careful as we try to be -- and everyone connected with it does try to be careful not to make inadvertent, or advertent, changes in the law -- mistakes slip by and old sections are rewritten in a manner that really does suggest a substantive change. So far, the appellate courts have been especially tolerant and have stretched the rationale applied in Crow v. Hubard, nearly to the breaking point, to construe revised language as making no substantive change.

The project, however, has been a worth-while one. The revised volumes are easier to read. They are better organized, and the statutes are written, as much as possible, in plain, narrative English, without all the legalese and convolutions that characterized all previous Codes. Any literate person should be able to read and understand what is in the red volumes, at least as they were initially adopted, and that, in large measure, is what the whole project is about.

Perhaps, in my next paper, in 10 or 20 years, I will be able to report the completion of the project.


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