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ADDRESS OF MR. E. N. BROWN, PRESIDENT OF THE
OHIO STATE BAR ASSOCIATION
AT CEDAR POINT, JULY 8, 1919.
May I be permitted, at the very outset of my remarks, to formally express my profound appreciation of the honor which this Association conferred upon me a year ago in selecting me as its President. To be deemed worthy to become a successor to that long line of distinguished lawyers, commencing with a Ranney and ending with a Shauck, is a privilege which can, of necessity, be granted but to few men and I should be deeply lacking in sensibility if I did not recognize the distinction shown
Your President, upon assuming his office, had high aspirations as to what might be accomplished by the Association during the year and it is with pleasure that he can now say that part, at least, of such aspirations, have been successfully realized. The scandal of the duplication, through private enterprise, of reports of decisions of the Court of Appeals, has been stopped, or at least will cease as soon as the old copy now in the hands of the publishers is exhausted, and there will be, in the future, but one set of reports of decisions of this Court, published under the authority of the State Reporter and known as “Ohio Appellate Reports. This is the happy ending of four years work on the part of the Association and its successful culmination should be gratifying not only to the Association, but to the entire bar of the State. Through the efforts of your legislative committee a "non-par value stock corporation" law was enacted by the present legislature, thereby placing this State in line with the eastern States. This committee also succeeded in having an amendment to Sec. 10697 of the General Code enacted so that an executor or administrator in order to make distribution, may sell securities. Your most efficient Treasurer, who ever since his election, has been untiring in his efforts to advance the interests of our Association, has, in his spare moments, compiled a substantially complete list of the acts passed by the legislature which have become laws and, as I learn, this list will be distributed to the members at this meeting. Several other acts, either original or amendatory, of great interest and advantage to our profession and the people generally, have been introduced and, after passage by one or other of the houses of the Legislature, have, either through negligence or adverse influence, been pigeon-holed in committee. These facts, and the personal experience of your President with the Legislature, and parenthetically, may I say, I have spent much more time than I could afford in trying to get these bills enacted into laws, have demonstrated to your President the advisability and almost the necessity, of the Association having a qualified representative in attendance in Columbus during the times when the State is afflicted by the sessions of the legislature.
Our brethren of the medical profession are constantly represented by their Board of Medical Examiners, with a permanent secretary in the State House; the banking, building and loan, and labor interests, as well as others, all have their representatives on the ground and are in constant touch with the law making power and yet the bar, called upon constantly by clients to advise and counsel them, are confronted almost daily by illy conceived, carelessly prepared and hastily enacted laws affecting all citizens of the State, some of which are, to say the least, almost nonunderstandable.
A pertinent illustration of such legislation will be found in the Mechanics Lien Law of Ohio, which, forced through the legislature a few years ago by the lumber and material men's interests, is so befogged by unnecessary verbiage, so full of contradictions and inconsistencies, that even the ablest of lawyers, familiar though he may be with building and lien laws, is scarcely able to construe it or to prepare a contract which will protect his client, whether he be owner, contractor, or material man, against litigation or loss. Our eleven volumes of Statutes are full of such carelessly drawn laws; some of them are entirely obsolete; of laws that might have been, and probably were desirable and effective in the ancient days of stage-coach and canal-boat, but which are utterly useless at the present time. Many of these laws should be repealed; many more should be amended so as to conform to present conditions, but such amendments should be made under the advice and supervision of trained legal minds, These amendments and repeals can in part easily be made by the aid of a recodifying, ummission, but all new legislation, whether original or amendatory, which affect persamal or property interests as well as remedial legislation, should have, before final enactment, the approval of this Association, through its proper committee. A plan similar to this is existent in New York, and all proposed laws which affect New York City are submitted, before final enactment, to the New York City Bar for its approval or dis approval. In the opinion of your President, sume plan as is here merely hastily outlined, might well be considered by the Association. If this suggestion is carried out to a successful fruition, there can be no question but that the State Bar Association will at once become a mighty and forceful power in the State, more effective than any other organization in promoting and advancing the cause of good government, good citizenship and the welfare and happiness of our people,
But our Asusciation should not confine itself to the improving, of our Statutory Law, it should go farther and endeavor, by every means in its power, to bring about an amendment of the Constitution of the State in several respects. Article four of the Constitution, as amended in 1912, has, it is generally unceded, proven entirely unsatisfactory to everyone, Courts, lawyers and laity, and should at the earliest opportunity be changed,
The Asciation, at its meeting in this place in 1912, after listening to two long and able addrewes by the distinguished authors of the amendaury sections, and with very little amsideration or discussion, approved by a small vote the propune amendments, but it is easily safe to say that a majority of the members there present who voted in favor of the approval had never had any business in the Supreme Court since their admission to the bar. It is also equally safe to say that those of us who have had business there, including the authors, have long since discovered that the amendment was not a success and did not work as they honestly anticipated that it would. There was then a widespread complaint, not only in our own State, but all over the country, about "The Laws Delays," and this proposed amendment was, as it then seemed and still seems to your President, approved by this Association for the reason that it appeared to point out a way by which the final determination of a litigation might be quickly arrived at. The speedy determination of litigation is greatly to be desired, but, it seems to me, it is far more important and necessary to the whole people, that justice should be exact than that it should be speedy. There is a tendency in the human mind, inherent perhaps, in its nature, and unexplainable sometimes, to desire a change, and changes do occur, have constantly, since the creation of the world, occurred, and will continue to occur until the end of time, but when a change in the fundamental law of a State or Nation is made, it should be only when the necessity of such change is imperative and then only after careful, studious and mature deliberation and not to appease popular clamor, to follow any fad or fancy or to conform to either manufactured or natural sentiment. I cannot refrain from quoting in this connection the wise words of Lord Bacon, so aptly chosen as the text of the remarkable address delivered in 1913, before our Association by Chief Justice Parker:
"It is good also not to try experiments in States, except the necessity be urgent, or the utility evident; and well to beware that it be the reformation that draweth on the change, and not the desire of change that pretendeth the reformation,
Would to God that these words had been in the minds of our members in 1912, before we made that unhappy endorsement of the judicial amendment for, I firmly believe, that such endorsement by the State Bar Association, published as it was broadcast over the State, as the deliberate judgment of the lawyers of the State, was the cause of its ratification by the people.
Your Executive Committee has placed this question upon the program as one of the subjects of discussion at this meeting and I sincerely trust that it may receive a more careful consideration than it did seven years ago.