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ENTERED according to Act of Congress, on the eighth day of April, in the year eighteen hundred and fifty-six, by John M. Patton, Jr. and Roscoe B. Heath, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Eastern District of Virginia.
c. 11. WYNNE, PRINTER, RICHMOND, VA.
Tuis volume contains Reports of the Decisions of the Special Court of Appeals of Virginia, held at Richmond during its first term, and A General Index to nine volumes of Grattan's Reports, from the third to the eleventh volume, both inclusive.
It is proper that some account should be here given of the origin and constitution of the Special Court of Appeals, and of the considerations which have induced the preparation and publication of these Reports of its decisions.
In the year 1848, the number of cases on the docket of the Supreme Court of Appeals (the court of the last resort in Virginia,) had increased to such an extent, that the average pendency of an appeal was seven years. To remedy this evil, the act of the General Assembly of March 31st, 1848, was passed, which established a Special Court of Appeals at Richmond, to be composed of the five Judges of the Circuit Superior Courts, whose commissions were of the oldest date, and which should have jurisdiction to hear and determine all causes which had been pending on the docket of the Supreme Court of Appeals more than two years, provided no party to the causes objected to its jurisdiction. The efficiency of this court was impaired by many considerations. The constitutionality of the act of the Legislature establishing it was doubted.* The consent of both parties to the cases, was necessary to give it jurisdiction, and the necessary consent was withheld in a large majority of cases. The new Constitution of Virginia, adopted in 1851,
* Sharpe v. Robertson, 5 Grat. 518.