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Miscellany: Letters From Michigan: Number III

Miscellany: Letters From Michigan: Number III image
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I ara not aware tímt litipation prevails to any greater extent in a newly settled country hnn in an o!d ono, vet it is certain thnt lhe legal profession s weM represented in Michigan. Thereare probnbly from three to five hundred lawyers in the State, a pmnll portion only of whnse .upport is furnishcd by themselves, the remninder beinfr deiived from the producing portions of community, nnd in exohange for it, they gïve their professional services. A portion of them however, ustiaily obtain various connty and township offices, and thence derive a nnrt of their eubsisfcnce. The loornl profespion is highly favorable to intellcctiial eminenco. The nature of his s1nd ie.t tprifls to ninke the lütryer acute and discnminntinfj, while his busjneps acqtinints him with the details of practical hfe, and his collisions with his Iryal brethren render hi? mind prompt and reody. His opportunities for displavin? h's talents by public sppakingr, are superior to those of any otber occupaiion.- Thus the whole tendeniy of his profession is to irnprove the mind by nteüpctual dipcipline, ond pive him consequence nnd prominence in eoc iety . But it is not found by experience that the leal profepsion i? always favorablo to the attainment of hieh moral excellence. While the mnjority of lawycrs maintain a respectable qtandingrin community, the clnss, as such, are very far from being recognized as favorable to any impopular moral reform. I believe a verv 8mnll proportinn of them in this state are consistent Tetotallers, while perhaps not one in forty is known in comminiity as an nvowed Abolitiouist. They confine themselvos chief]y to polii'ical topics, as upon those and their profesión their hopos of distinction must rest. The business of a Inwyer is not favorable to the cultivation of 6Crupulous pro'iity. He is expected to do the best he enn for his cliënt, nnd advocate his cause whether it he !:ght or wrong-, Thequpstion has.been asked whether a lawyrr might not ei)g-anrely in a righteous cause, and whiHher, by ossutnin? such positions only as weru right and could be fully eustnined, he nignt not, in a series ofyear.s, establifih a repntation for trut!) nnd probity, which would give him a deserved weight in cotfimumty, nnd be for his pecuniary interest nlso? To this it has been justly replied, that oftpnfimesn lawyer cannot ascertain fromthe brief nnrl one-sided statement of the applicant, whicli party is in the wrong; that sometimfi3 one pony is ns much n the ri?ht ns the o'her; nnd sornetmes Iav s on ohe sidc, and cquity on the o; her. SesidèsJ the cliënt pays his advocate for pleadinfr Kis cauee, hot the cause of j.istice. Most bunnen men rmploy the santé atïorney Tor all their, whether right or wrong,' nnd fhould he refuse to plend nny biu guch as are juát he would poon ilnd himself without clients or feps. ííence the object of every advocate must be to g-ain his his canse; nnd he who cái pnih the most ímportont .uit?, nnd the gentes't mimber ofYhcm, by sny mpnns not nbsolntely disamceful, will hnve :hn lurhePt re.putntion and most practice This Ipods the prnctitioners to se nrJifice, nnd often fo catch nt the most contemptible technicr.litiea. Henee, nlso, whensome conBummnte pcoundrei of k'iown villany, who hns been preyin on commtinity for year?, is at last arrested by public justice, at g rent expense, it is conidcred nolhinyr disrppntnble for n lawyer to ava;l himself of every trifimgtechnicality to clrnr the colprit, and thus defeat the cnils of public j'n-tice. I mention this, not ua any impntation on tho counscl of BHch vülnins. but as a result of the present syslem of le?nl prnctk-e. Tifus the penoral tendency of the Jeoral practice is adverse ro fitnet probity, ns el! as to the spirit ofw..iiLv; umi inR iaci ismt mnny noble-mined, conscieniiouf men have been, and are stil] found among is pnictitionerp, does not invalídate my conclufiinn. They were ench sptte of the nature of their profession, not in consequence of t. Luigation is, in renlity, as much a state of wnrfare ns Ihat in whicli armed soldiere encounter cach olher. Tho pariies nsually enter the leg-jil arenn, with hostileand ofien bitter feelingH, iniendmr, as a mnller of course. to take every legal advan-nge of each olherV necossilics, mistnke?, or imprudence. rJ'o help thom n the struik, each person subsidizes o legrnl1 atixilinry, find hostihiies commence in earnesf, each endeavoring, nccording to hi? disposition ot Us mean&, to harasa liis neighbor on every side, to scare hirn by bmyïffg, to enrrap him by finessp, to intimídate by threafs, to cajole by insidious offers, to out pend in profusión or outwoary by delay Henee, litjgation exerts a deleterious influon ill concerned n it; and a coramunityI wbere it prevaila extensively cannot be re markoble for high-toned morality, since it brings into exercise tome of the worst feelings of human nature. The uncertainty of the law is proverbia), and (here s more reason for tbe proverb than is generally supposed by the parties wJier. tbe f suit is commenced. Mere simple justice i but a smaíl item towards gaming a cause t Mnch more dependa on the skill aod management of the porties, than on the equity of the case. The expense of lawsuits is &lso 1 enormous, and where thry are we:i contested, a every one knowe, the costs often exceed ihe amount nt issue; and in every case the expenses are a heavy discount on th sum gained. AU that is thus paid out is a complete lose to the payers, and the community. A proposition was deba'.ed in the Legislature last winter, to doaway with the present monopoly of the law, and ollow any peraonof ?ood character to practise in our courts without he three orfour years previou tudy now rpqnired. This measure is considered to be ral her Democratie in ita charncter, and, if ndoptel, I think jt will materially affect the interests of the profession. It tendency wil' be to eiilarge the number of legal practitioner? indefinitely, and ultimately diminish tb profits of the business. The door bein? thrown wide opm, jobbers wnuld eoon enter, and pe'urea la rge portion of the business by doing it equally well for a less compensation. I beüeve that such n alleration of the law would Himinish the influenre and profits of the professio; but it is aUo probable that the ends nf justice, which should be ihe object of all law, would be better subserved that they now are. Perhaps, nlso, it wonld tend to a reforrnation of the whole system of Common Law - a con6ummation ratlier to be withed than hoped for. ''The law's delay," and its endless iutricacies and conBiciing decisions have been a topic of remnrk from the irliest perjod; and these evils secm to multiply with its nge. No satisfactory method of avoiding them bas vet boen devieed. Sonne years eince, Governor Mason, of this State, proposed a revisiónof the leading poinis of the common law wliich should theréafter be established by tb statnte, instead of tincertain anthorities ant conflicling prcccdents. Bul the plan did noi mee; with favor. But great as are the evils of litfsrafion, ther seem3 to be but two wnys of tvoiding them- by Non-Resisfanee, and by Arbitration botfi of which require a state of mind Ín the parties very different from that which is generalij displayed by suitors in our courts of justice.- It is worfhy f remark that both theee modes of preventing kwsuits are expressly poinfrd out and enjoined by Divine Revelation. We are ihen commnnded to be long suffenntr and palienl. forbearing oneanoiiier, forgiving one nnother, f any has a qtiarrel with his neighl)or, to be'gentle, easy to beentreatcd, not returning- evil for evil, but contrariwise, blessinc; and tve are to be kind to the unthankful and the evil. This mode of adjusting difScuUiee - by patiënt iy hearing injuries- will donbtless be pneered at by the lawyer, the business man, and perhnps some professed teachors of Christianily, because even the best of men have a very inadequate idea of the power of kindness and good will, when it sprints from stern, unwavcring Christian principie. Socieïy euslairs a false and wicked siancnrd. We are taught from our earliest years that to bear and forbear with our onemies is mean and degradincr: while to resent an injury kecnly and püniath the onênder sevorely, is manly and honorable. Tiiepe is a eect in the eastem States, called Resistants. They discard all human laws, holding that God has legislated for each individua], and to obey his commnnds is enongh. They do not nrnke use of human laws for the protection of their persons or property. In conversalion with one of thi3 class a short time since;l enquired how he, who was a mechanic, conld possibly 6ecnre a competence for his fnmily without the njd of the law? He saió he had acted upon this principie twmty years, and had found no difficiilly. Wiien he conti acfed to work for a man, fie told him his siluation - that he was poor, ind his fami'y needed his eominge- that he■.uu uxpeci mem wnen the wok was Jone, but if they were not paid wiliingly he must do without them, hnwever great migh he his noed, .mt-mucli as his. principies as o Christian forbade him (o use the compulsión of the law. In nearly every oase lie obtninei his pny,and rlíd not lose any more without the law, ihan others did whocalJed in its nd continnnlly. Ue euccreded much beífer than he hnd himself hnticipated. By nppealing simp! to their feeling of justice, he eecured the aid pï' their conseiences without irritaüng their feeÜnjrs: nnd his practica! experienceconfirmed hi- belief that every human beingr had a conscience which might b reachcd, if appeolod to in kindness and good will, and ihat human compulfory laws were not on!y unnecessary for reclaimin? ihe vicious, but absolutely injurious. Though I cannot go the exient or this man's faith or practiceI yet believe the thousandth part of the efficacy of kindness and gentlenes upon tho froward and wicked has never yet been tested. But thouirh this method of preventinj Inwsuits isenjoined by Revelalion, it is not the only one. Jlrbilration is also tnentioned, and the Apostle sha rply repro ves the Christian converte ibr two thirgi-because they went to law, and becaute their suits were tried before the tingodly. ín bolh respects his admonitions would well apply to the presont t'mes. For what is better calculn'.etl to brin Christinnity mto contempt than for its disciples to be eeen pleading aguiust each other before nn infidel or profane magistrale? It is worthy of reraark that Daniel O'Connell is endeavoriojj to introduce a general eyetem of aíbitrationamonj? all clasieofthe Irish people, which I thall preclude the necesaity of any appeal to the decisión of ihe law. The present system of litigation, like that of war, is an evil, consequent on the existing state of society; and as men advance m knowledge and virtue, it wijl be abolished, and the practice of voluntary arbitration supercede iï.


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