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IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, Dec. 17, 1846.
The Committee on District Offices and Officers, to whom was referred a Resolution to authorize the Governor to cause a compilation of the laws and decisions of the Court of Appeals, relative to the duties
of Magistrates and Constables, have had the same under consideration, and beg leave to Report: That they cannot, in their opinion, too strongly impress upon the House, the necessity of such a work, as the said resolution contemplates. That the Magistrates and Constables of the State are, in a large majority of cases, ignorant of the laws which the Legislature makes it their duty to enforce, does not admit of a doubt. These laws are now dispersed over many
thousands of pages of law books, which are to them, in a great measure, wholly inaccessible, and being thus deficient in the knowledge of the laws which it is their duty to enforce, and having no means within their power to obtain that knowledge, they must, of necessity, be wanting in that confidence in their own ability, without which it is in vain to expect an efficient discharge of their duties. This being so, instead
. of administering the law as it is, their own judgement and impulses, are, of necessity, substituted for the law, and wrongs are thus being continually inflicted upon the rights of the people, which has rendered the office itself, not only odious, but a positive tyranny, which calls loudly upon this Legislature for a remedy.
Numerous prosecutions are continually occurring, upon frivolous and insufficient grounds, crowding the sessions dockets, all over the State-absorbing the time of the Courts-fomenting discords and strife among the people-taxing the time and means of defendants and prosecutors to a grievous extent, and drawing annually, large sums of money from the public Treasury to pay the costs of prosecutions. .
Your Committee, from a full examination of the subject, are per. suaded that the evil referred to is of much greater magnitude than
seems to be generally supposed, and they cannot but deem it the imperious duty of the Legislature, to provide a remedy for these evils, and to guard the State from the reproach of permitting a continuation of this extensive and continually increasing mal-administration of justice by these inferior tribunals, whose acts affect most unjustly the rights of large masses of the people. In the judgement of your Committee, it is due to the character of the State, that something should be done to abate these evils, and to provide for a more just and a more enlight. ened administration of the law. Your Committee submits that the remedy is to be found in a complete revision and re-publication of the law in relation to these offices, and by placing it in a condensed form in the hands of every Magistrate and Constable appointed by your authority, as contemplated by the resolution referred to. The law thus simplified and condensed, with all necessary forms under each appropriate head, would bring it at once within the grasp and compre. hension of the most common understanding, and with such a manuel in their hands, it would be hardly possible for them to err.
Such a work, your Committee deem entirely practicable and expedient, and which, when completed, would render the duties of the offices of Magistrate and Constable, plain and intelligible. It would, in the opinion of your Committee, in a very short time, effect a most salutary change in the administration of the duties of these offices, and they feel confident would also soon redeem the office of Magistrate from the degradation to which it is now reduced, and they are equally confident would, in addition to the above enumerated advantages, relieve the Treasury from the burthen of a very heavy annual charge. Such a work, in the opinion of your Committee, would be also of much value, not only to the citizens of the State, generally, but likewise to the professional lawyer.
Resolved, That His Excellency, the Governor, be authorized and requested to employ some fit and competent person to compile, under his direction, all the laws now of force, in this State, in regard to the powers and duties of Magistrates and Constables, with a digest of the decisions of :he Court of Appeals in relation thereto. And that he be further requested to communicate, at the next session of the Legis.
Sature, the progress of this work, and the compensation he may deem just and equitable should be paid to the person thus employed.
Resolved, That the House do agree to the Report.
T. W. GLOVER, C. H. R.
IN THE SENATE, December 18, 1848. Resolved, That the Senate do concur in the Report. Ordered, That it be returned to the House of Representatives. By order,
WM. E. MARTIN, C. S.