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Mississippi. The legislature of this state, at the regular biennial session thereof, held at Jackson, in January and February, 1838, passed one hundred and forty-three acts, almost all of which are of a private or local character. Religious societies. When any body of people shall organize themselves as a religious sect, and establish a place of worship, the officers thereof, or such trustees as may be elected or appointed, are authorized to receive by gift, grant, or purchase, any lands, tenements, or other property, for the use and benefit of such society, or their successors, to be used and enjoyed by them, so long as they or their successors shall continue to worship, at such place so established. Feb. 2. Pleadings. Pleas in abatement need not be verified by affidavit, when the abatable matter is apparent upon the face of the record; and the defendant in any suit may plead as many pleas in bar of the action, as he may think proper, although some of the pleas may be to the party or to the character of the party suing. Feb. 9. Limited partnerships. By an act passed Feb. 15, the formation of limited partnerships is authorized, for the transaction of any mercantile, commercial, mechanical, or manufacturing business, or work of improvement, (but not for banking or making insurance), upon the terms, with the rights and powers, and subject to the conditions and liabilities prescribed in the act, the provisions of which are similar to those of the laws authorizing this kind of partnership, in other states. Mechanics’ lien. Every building of whatever kind is subjected to the payment of the price, contracted to be paid for the erection thereof, or, where there is no special contract, of what the work and labor and materials are reasonably worth, in preference to any other lien originating subsequently to the commencement of the building, or the date of the contract therefor; provided the contract is reduced to writing and signed by the parties and recorded in the court of probates, or a suit is instituted thereon within six months after the date of the contract, or the commencement of the building; and provided also that the contractor performs the work according to his contract. Feb. 15.
Revised statutes. In our last notice of the legislation of Missis. sippi (see Am. Jur. vol. xviii. 212), we gave an account of the revision of the statutes of that state, which had been reported to the legislature of 1836, and directed to be printed, and which we supposed would be acted upon at the session of 1838. The volume before us, however, which contains the legislation of the last mentioned year, furnishes no further information on the subject.
TENNessee. The twenty-second general assembly of Tennessee, at its first session, commencing in October, 1837, and ending in January, 1838, passed three hundred and nine acts and thirteen joint resolutions.
Widows. The widow of a deceased intestate is entitled to receive so much of the crop, stock, provisions, and moneys on hand or due, or other assets, as may be necessary to support her and her family, until the expiration of one year from the decease of her husband, to be set out to her by three freeholders, and to be held and used by her as her absolute property, free from attachment on any precept or execution. Chap. 13.
Capital punishments. An “act relative to capital punishments” provides for the commutation of the punishment of death, for the crime of murder in the first degree, to that of imprisonment for life in the penitentiary, in cases where there are extenuating or mitigating circumstances. The statute refers to persons under sentence of death at the time of its passage, as well as to cases afterwards occurring. In regard to the first, it is made the duty
of the governor, upon the representation of the judges of the supreme court, that there were extenuating circumstances in the case, to commute the sentence of death to that of imprisonment for life. In regard to the second, the statute provides, that in all cases, thereafter to be tried, where any person is convicted of murder in the first degree, if the jury shall be of opinion that there are mitigating circumstances in the case, and shall so state in their verdict, it shall be the duty of the court to sentence the convict to the penitentiary for life. Chap. 29. Bowie-knives and Arkansas tooth-picks. The first section of chap. 137 prohibits the sale, offer to sell, or bringing into the state for the purpose of sale, gift, or other disposition, of bowie-knives and Arkansas tooth-picks, or any similar knife or weapon, under the penalty of a fine of not less than one or more than five hundred dollars, and imprisonment for not less than one month or more than three. The second section prohibits the wearing of these weapons concealed about the person, under the penalty of fine and imprisonment. The third makes it a felony punishable in the penitentiary not less than three nor more than five years, to draw or attempt to draw any such weapon, for the purpose of using it upon or intimidating any person. The fourth makes it a felony, punishable by imprisonment in the penitentiary, for not less than three nor more than fifteen years, to cut or stab any person with such weapon, on any sudden rencounter, whether death ensue or not. The fifth section makes it the duty of the circuit judges to give the act in charge to the grand jury at every term of their respective courts; it provides also that a civil officer, who shall arrest and prosecute to conviction and punishment any person guilty of any of the offences enumerated in the act, shall receive a reward of fifty dollars; and that the attorney general shall be entitled to a fee of twenty dollars in each case, when a defendant shall be convicted. Attorneys and counsellors of other states, adjoining the state of Tennessee, are authorized to practise in all the courts of law and equity therein, upon producing a license from the proper authorities within their respective states. Chap. 181.
1.—A Statement of Facts in relation to the Delays and Arrears of Business in the Court of Chancery of the State of New York, with some Suggestions for a change in its organization. By Theodore Sedgwick, Jr. New York, 1838.
The author of this pamphlet is a young lawyer in the city of New York, who has stolen time from the occupations of an extensive practice, to offer some suggestions upon the great subject of legal reform, which are written with a practical good sense, manliness of spirit, and understanding of the subject, that reflect new honor upon the distinguished name which he bears. It is principally occupied with details and those too of a local nature, but the dryness and repulsiveness of his task increase the merit of the patient industry with which the facts have been collected. The first twenty pages are devoted to an exposition of the powers of courts of chancery and of the difference between equity and law, and the remainder to a thorough and business-like dissection of the defects of the chancery system in New York and a suggestion of changes and reforms, calculated to remove the evils. The picture he has drawn is a startling one; and he shows that the chancery system in New York is just such another Augean stable as the chancery system in England. We cannot undertake to give any thing like an abstract of a pamphlet so condensed and so abounding in details, but we commend it to the perusal of all who honor law and equity, and hate their abuses. As a specimen we present our readers with the following extract, showing the state of business in the first circuit, comprising the city of New York.
“The first circuit, therefore, being the most important division of equity courts, I shall give a more minute view of it than of the other circuits, though enough will be shown to prove that the same evils exist to a greater or less degree in them all. “Now what do we learn from the calendar of the first circuit. This calendar is, as I have already described, divided into four classes of cases. The calendars are made up by the date of the issues, each class, however, retaining its order. Each case has the date of its issue marked against it, so that in each suit, we can tell at once what delay has taken place. “The vice-chancellor holds four terms per annum, in January, April, July and October.—Now let us examine his calendar for January 1838, which contains 206 cases. “Of the first class of cases, where there was no defence or bills taken pro confesso, there were thirty-two. There are in general no arrears here, for the very obvious reason, that there is no defence. “In the second class, pleas and demurrers, where, as I have described, the question is a very simple one, the issues are all in 1837, and there are but ten. “In the third class, which presents the cases of the next easy decision, bills and answers, where the facts are not contested, or where if contested, there is no contradictory proof, and where mere questions of law are in general to be determined, there are thirty-three cases, and all comparatively of recent date. “But what is the condition of the fourth class, those on pleadings and proofs, where the facts are disputed; here the following state of things is presented. There are 130 cases, in one of these, the date of the issues is 1828.
In one, the date of the issue, is in - - - 1829 In three, - - - - - - 1831 “five, . - - - - - - 1832 “twenty, - - - - - - 1833 “ twenty-nine, - - - - - 1834 “ twenty-four, - - - - - 1835 “twenty-two, - - - - - 1836
And the rest of - - - - 1837
“Now what does this mean? why, simply this, leaving out the cases prior to 1832, as straggling; that twenty of these cases have been ready to be heard since 1833—twenty-nine since 1834—twenty-four, since 1835. It is true, the replication forms the issue, and that subsequent to this, the proofs are to be taken before the cause is ready for argument,