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"Practice four hours every day in a pistol-gallery," was the advice given seventy years ago, by an eminent member of the Irish bar to a youthful confrere, as the most certain means of rising in the profession in the Emerald Isle. The day, however, of duellists is over, it is impossible for any man to shoot himself into practice now-a-days; more peaceful means must be resorted to in order to secure advancement; and although industry, learning and talents may be insufficient to secure a leading position, a careful cultivation of the judges will in a number of instances produce the desired effect; that is if the dictum of a judge be recognized by the other members of the bench as an authority in such matters. "My dear ," said he, "whenever I have a doubt in
a case pleaded before me, I always give its benefit to my friend." What charming naivete', what delicious simplicity were exhibited in that outburst of confidence, how they remind one of the honied words of the poet,
Verily, if the judges adopt the dictum in question, thanks will be due to them for simplifying the administration of the law in this Province. Parties will no longer be distracted by the anxieties now attendant on the prosecution of a suit, counsel will be absolved from the necessity of studying the points of their cases, judges will be relieved from tLe frightful labour of poring over musty records. The only point requiring care an J attention will be the retaining of counsel rejoicing in the friendship of the judges. It may so happen that in order to secure a judgment, three counsel i'^ust be engaged, bu* the increase in numbers retained will rsdound to the interest of the bar. Kind nnr? liberal feelings between b-r and beneh will be created and fostered—dependent upou each other, the bench vid be entitled to the liberality of the brr, and the bar, or at least its favoured members, will receive the moral support of the bench. It may be asked, how is this happy condition of affairs to be brought about? What means should be adopted to insure possession of this legal Utopia? Judges although immeasurably above the common herd of men, superior to the ordinary vices of humanity, and generally impressed with the idea that they possess all attainable knowledge in the science of the law, are, with all due deference be it said, human in some respects. Impecuniosity may afflict some, a craving for the good things of this world may affect others. Believe the one, satisfy the other, and behold the foundations of doubtful friendships. A man's capacity for friendship is either in his purse or in his stomach; fill both and it is impossible for him to resist the kindly feeling. Let, then, the maxim of the profession be " Entertain and Indorse." If carried into practice, the experiment at first may be expensive, but the speculation will be sure to pay in the end.
The benefits which will follow from the adoption of the principle in question will be shared, not only amongst ordinary suitors but also amongst men of means or influence who, in the ardor of the moment, have been tempted to commit crime. It is excessively unjust that men of a high and educated stamp should by the law be regarded in the same light as poor uninfluential fellows, so far as what is technically called crime is concerned. In the one case the respectability of the offender's family is tarnished, he himself is torn from the charms and comforts of his home, his money is useless, and he wastes his years in a penitentary. The poor devil on the contrary without means and friends, save perhaps his wife and children, who commits a crime, should be punished as an example to his wealthier fellow subjects—his imprisonment redounds to his own benefit—half starved before, he is now wellfed—ragged and out of elbows at large, he rejoices in his new clothes in prison—his wife and children beg, but they are well rid of their disreputable husband and father. Of old, the benefit of clergy was admitted in mitigation of punishment; would it not be a good idea to legalise it as an excuse for crime in this our day? Poverty in this workday world of ours is a crime, wealth is a virtue. A man's depravity grows with his poverty; his virtues increase in proportion to his wealth. A poor man cannot be honest. A millionaire cannot be a rascal. Wealth gilds everything, and would cast a halo round the head of a criminal. Let us picture to ourselves a trial in such a case,—the wealthy
victim in the dock, the counsel defending, the friendly judge upon the bench; how tender towards the prisoner would be the judge's conduct; how majestic and condescending his deportment towards the jury; how he would define, and refine upon, the points of law; how he would doubt everything, even his own existence, save the respectability and wealth of the unfortunate accused, and how at the last he would dilate upon his vast properties as irrefragable evidence of his innocence. Gracious Heavens! no jury could resist his fascinations, and a verdict of Not Guilty would save him the trouble of reserving a c:ise and discharging the accused from custody on '-ifling bail. Capital would thus at last acquire its proper posi . wd secure immunity from punishment to its fortunate possessor. The Bar would receive large fees, and the Beneh would be indorsed by the signature of every man seeking idvancement in his profession.
If. however, it be pret 'nded chat the course pointed out is immoral nd even disgraceful, and it is desired to secure perfect impartiality in the administration of justice, what means can be taken to secure the desired end. Universal satisfaction upon the subject now pervades all classes of society. It is impossible, say all people, that justice could be administered in a better manner than in the Province of Quebec. The judges are industrious beyond all precedent, in fact, from excess of work they are worn down to skeletons; they are impartial, learned, and talented; charming in their manners, courteous in their behaviour, their civility to the members of the bar is ouly equalled by their for boarance and brotherly love to each other. The country, in fact, does not appreciate them as it ought, the paltry salaries they receive are no compensation for the immense benefits they daily heap upon society. The temptations to which they are exposed, are incredible, and it is unfair in the highest degree to submit human nature on the Bench to the trials of poverty. The rich man who has never known indigence, who has never experienced the kind attentions of a bailiff, or felt the pangs of hunger, knows not the fascinations of crime, and condemns the poor devil who, to save his wife's life, steals a loaf of bread. Worse, infinitely worse, than that of a man dying of hunger, is the position of a judge, bound to keep up respectable appearances on an insufficient income; day by day he plunges deeper into debt, and becomes the bond-slave of his creditors—his independence lost, his spirit broken, his impartiality destroyed, he must be more than mortal if he can decide against a member of the bar, who holds one or two judgments against him, and who in the anger of the moment may put an execution into his house. Let us flatter ourselves with the idea that such a state of things does not exist in Quebec, but at the same time let us take the precautions necessary to prevent the occurrence of such a calamity.
If in lieu of the enlightened, talented and learned Bench that we now possess, the highest court in the Province was composed of men—lazy, idle, partial—seeking solely to gorge their salaries as the reward of the smallest possible quantity of work; what would be the consequence to the country at large? Would it be possible for it to flourish with the fountain of its justice impure and polluted. Would not that impurity and pollution be carried through all grades and classes of society? Would commerce flourish, secure from the harpies who would rise and devour all the profits of the fair trader? Would property be safe from the machinations of the ring of conspirators, who would fatten on the labour of honest men? Would life be secure from the rowdies and ruffians who would congregate in our streets, and purchase immunity for their own crimes by being the willing instruments of others higher in the social scale.
If an example be wanted of a great city trodden down into the mire, regard New York. The Corporation of that city within two years plundered to the extent of millions of dollars! The majority of voters ruled by a despicable minority of rogues and cheats—Property insecure—Human life not regarded. And what are the causes productive of this state of affairs? The corruption of the Bench—the indifference of the better classes of society. That enlightened Christianity which there has insured the adoption of the Malthusian doctrine,'permits judges to dispose of themselves to the highest bidder. The spirit which accorded freedom to the negro and abolished slavery, has struck the shackles from the limbs of the white judge and allows him to sell himself into bondage. A millionaire may now own any number of fast horses and judges as his private property; the horses for his pleasure, the judges for his business. What a convenient arrangement!" If you have a case at law, go buy a judge," says Mr. James Fisk, " I can recommend to you Judge Barnard," and accordingly Judge Barnard is bought, as one purchases a leg of mutton at a butchers, a little higgling, a little haggling, but all comes right in the end.
Is it wrong then to consider this question of friendship with a judge as one of legal ethics? Friendship in such guise is but a wedge which driven home will so split, rive and destroy our liberties as to leave us but small reason to congratulate ourselves on the administration of justice in the Province of Quebec.
William H. Keee.
THE QUEEN VS. COOTE.
The prisoner in this case, after conviction for arson, has been liberated on bail by a Judge in Chambers. A detail of the proceedings in the case will enable the profession in the other Provinces of the Dominion, and elsewhere, to form an opinion of the singular tenderness for convicted criminals which pervades the administration of justice in the Province of Quebec.
At the late term of the Court of Queen's Bench, presided over by Mr. Justice Badgley, a true bill was found against Edward Coote for arson. The indictment contained four counts, in each charging him with setting fire wilfully, feloniously &c, to a warehouse belonging to a person of the name of Roy, but in each varying the intent. To this indictment, Coote pleaded not guilty, and a jury being impanelled, he was tried and found guilty. Two depositions sworn to by Coote before the Fire Commissioner for the City of Montreal, then holding an inquiry into the origin of the fire, previous to any charge of arson being made against any person, were, after being duly proved, read to the jury on the trial. On the day appointed for sentence, Coote, through his counsel, made two motions, one that the trial should be declared a mistrial, the verdict quashed and that he should be tried again on the ground that his two depositions taken before the Fire Commissioners had been improperly received in evidence and read to the jury, the other in arrest of judgment, including, amongst some trifling technical grounds, the one relied on in the motion for a mistrial. After argument, Mr. Justice Badgley overruled the motion for a mistrial, &c, in an elaborate judgment, and reserved the motion in arrest of judgment for the consideration of the Court of Queen's Bench, Appeal Side—the Court of Criminal Appeal in the Province of Quebec. No further order was made, and Coote returned to gaol. The court closed on the 11th October.