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PROCEEDINGS AND DEBATES.

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from the committee on the fifth article. It was conceded that some rempfe dy ought to be applied, and he hoped we should adopt an effectual ons. He had some objections to all the plans that had been suggested; but he prefered the proposition in the report of the Judiciary committee, which provided a limitation of the number. If no other alteration were made to the Constitution than this, it would be worth all the expense attending this Convention. He was in favor of the amendment now under consideration, and should vote for it; but he would be willing to vote for any feasible plan, having in view the same object.

Mr. SHELLITO said, as the State of Ohio had been alluded to, and as die lived on the borders of that State, he would say, that though he had had much intercourse with the people of Ohio, and had heard their sentiments in regard to the operation of their system of electing the Justices, he had never heard any complaint of the system. Every body appeared io be well satisfied with its results. He heard the people say, they would not exchange it for ours, nor for any other that could be devised. In regard to the proposition of the gentleman from Philadelphia, to pay the Justices' salaries, he said it would have a most mischievous tendency. There were many litigious and quarrelsome people, who would always be ready to go to law, if they could do so at the public cost. Conientious people would have an opportunity, without expense to themselves, to drag their neighbors into the courts, without any reason or excusc.

They would take their neighbors from their plougli, to carry them before the Magistrate. Such men would be pests to society, if they were allowed such facilities for litigation. Many men would refuse to pay an honest debt, until they were sued, for they would argue that the suit would cost them nothing. There must be some way to make a mian responsible for going to law. For these reasons, he objected to the proposed amendment; but there was another reason, growing out of the effect of the provision, upon the Magistrate himself. When he found that he was to have a certain salary, whether he did little business, or much business, he would probably do no business at all. He would not lose his time and quit his private atairs, to attend to the business of any poor man, if he was to be paid the sane sum, whether he discharged his duties or not. He was not going to condemn the Magistrates as a body, but it was evident that the people were dissatisfied with the present system, and wished to take the maller into their own hands. He held that the appointing power was very liable to abuse, and that it ought not to be confered on any one man, An absolute power of appointment, exercised by one inan, was tyranny. No tyrant could go beyond that. The people wanted to take the election into their own hands, and if they happened to make a bad choice, it would be in their power to remedy it at a subsequent election, by leaving out men who are found to be incompetent and unfaithful. But when they get good men, they could re-elect them. Upon these considerations, he should found his vote.

Mr. Read proposed, he said, for a few minutes, to examine the argument of the gentleman from Lycoming, (Mr. FLEMING,) and see pponi what iit was founded. His two positions were, first, that some change was necessary; and, second, that the complaints against the present sis. tem, proceeded from the circumstance, that there were too many Magis.

ment of the gentlemen from Philadelphia, (Mr. MEREDITH. How would these two reasons stand together? Any man who wishes to remedy an evil, would naturally look to the origin of the evil, and propose something that would remove its cause. Those who thought that the evil was in the too great number of Magistrates, would, of course, propose to reduce the number. But how is this to be effected, by changing the mode of compensation? The report of the committee as fully and effectually reaches the evil, which he supposes to lie at the root of all the faults of the present system, as does the amendment of the gentleman from Philadelphia, It does not, to be sure, limit the number of Justices, but it leaves it to the Legislature to carry out the principle, and fix the number, according to the circumstances which may hereafter arise. The Convention cannot fix the number. How can we tell what circumstances may arise, in the lapse of time, to render a change of the number necessary? We can, and perhaps inay, allow the Legislature to assign certain numbers to each district, according to the number of taxables. The gentleman seenied not to be aware, as most persons were who had resided in any county, that it would be impracticable to fix a salary which would be adapted to the business and labor of each Justice in the county. Some Magistrates, owing to their peculiar location in the county town, or to other circumstances, were employed their whole time, and took lees to the amount of six or eight hundred dollars a year; while there were other Magistrates, in the same county, who were not employed two days in the whole year, and whose entire receipts did not amount to five dollars. But it was necessary for the convenience of the citizens of every county, that they should have four or five Magistrates in different neighborhoods, to take acknowledgments of deeds, or to take testimony from females, and from the aged and infirm, who could not go to the county town for the purpose. If we undertook to graduate their compensation, according to their business, could we say, half a century before hand, what each Magistrate's salary should be in proportion to his duties? Could we tell, with certainty, what would be the amount of business that caeh Magistrate would perform? There was a limitation of the number of Justices fixed by the report of the committee. The report made it necessary for the Legisla. ture to district the State, and limit the number of Justices to be voted for in each, before the elections; and until they did this, the people would have nothing to vote for, and there could be no election.

Mr. FLEMING said, the gentleman had alleged, that he had fixed the number of Justices in the report.

In what section of it, was there any limitation of the number? Could the gentleman point it out to us? It was not competent, for us to leave this matter to a future Legislature, who might, or might not effect a limitation. We were bound to do it ourselves, and for that purpose, mainly, had this body been assembled, to leave the whole matter to the hazards of future legislation, would be a gross dereliction of our duty. The best way, in his opinion, to effect a practical limitation, was to require the people to pay their compensation, and their interest would then induce them to elect only sueh a number, as as necessary. We wanted a linitation which was tangible, and whien the people could comprehend at a glance. The prospect of limitation by the Legislature, was not sufficient to satisfy them. Unless we could raise the character of the Justices of the Peace, by limiting their

They would take

from the committee on the fifth article. It was conceded that some remp dy ought to be applied, and he hoped we should adopt an effectual one. He had some objections to all the plans that had been suggested ; but he prefered the proposition in the report of the Judiciary committee, which provided a limitation of the number. If no other alteration were made to the Constitution than this, it would be worth all the expense attending this Convention. He was in favor of the amendment now under consideration, and should vote for it; but lie would be willing to vote for any feasible plan, having in view the sanuc object.

Mr. SHELLITO said, as the State of Ohio had been alluded to, and as he lived on the borders of that State, he would say, that though he had had much intercourse with the people of Ohio, and had heard their sentiments in regard to the operation of their system of electing the Justices, he had never heard any complaint of the system. Every body appeared to be well satisfied with its results. He heard the people say, they would not exchange it for ours, nor for any other that could be devised. In regard to the proposition of the gentleman from Philadelphia, to pay the Justices' salaries, he said it would have a most mischievous tendency. There were many litigious and quarrelsome people, who would always be ready to go 10 law, if they could do so at the public cost. Conientious people would have an opportunity, without expense to themselves, to drag their neighbors into the courts, without any reason or excuse. their neighbors from their ploughi, to carry them before the Magistrate. Sueh men would be pests to society, if they were allowed such facilities for litigation. Many men would refuse to pay an honest debt, until they were sued, for they would argue that the suit would cost them nothing.

There- must be soine way to make a man responsible for going to law. For these reasons, he objected to the proposed amendment; but there was another reason, growing out of the effect of the provision, upon the Magistrate himself. When he found that he was to have a certain salary, whether he did little business, or much business, he would probably do no business at all. He would not lose his time and quit his private alfairs, to attend to the business of any poor man, if he was to be paid the sanje sumi, whether he discharged his duties or not. He was not going to condemn the Magistrates as a body, but it was evident that the people were dissatisfied with the present system, and wished to take the matter into their own hands. He held that the appointing power was very liable to abuse, and that it ought not to be confered on any one man, An absolute power of appointment, exercised by one man, was tyranny. No ivrant could go beyond that. The people wanted to take the election into their own hands, and if they happened to make a bad choice, it would be a their power to remedy it at a subsequent election, by leaving out men who are found to be incompetent and unfaithful. But when they get goul men, they could re-elect them. Upon these considerations, he should found his vote.

Mr. Read proposed, he said, for a few minutes, to examine the argument of the gentleman from Lycoming, (Mr. FLEMING,) and see upon what it was founded. His two positions were, first, that some change was necessary; and, second, that ihe complaints against the present sys. tem, proceeded from the circủmstance, that there were too many Magis

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ment of the gentlemen from Philadelphia, (Mr. MEREDITH). How would these two reasons stand together? Any man who wishes to remedy an evil, would naturally look to the origin of the evil, and propose something that would remove its cause. 'Those who thought that the evil was in the too great number of Magistrates, would, of course, propose to reduce the number. But how is this to be effected, by changing the mode of compensation? The report of the comınittee as fully and effcctually reaches ihe evil, which he supposes to lie at the root of all the faults of the present system, as does the amendment of the gentleman from Philadelphia, It does not, to be sure, limit the number of Justices, but it leaves it to the Legislature to carry out the principle, and fix the number, according to the circumstances which may hereafter arise. The Convention cannot fix the number. How can we tell what circumstances may arise, in the lapse of time, to render a change of the number necessary ? We can, and perhaps may, allow the Legislature to assign certain numbers to each disirict, according to the number of taxables. The gentleman seenied not to be aware, as most persons were who had resided in any county, that it would be impracticable to fix a salary which would be adapted to the business and labor of each Justice in the county. Some Magistrates, owing to their peculiar location in the county town), or to other circumstances, were employed their whole time, and took lees to the amount of six or eight hundred dollars a year; while there were other Magistrales, in the same county, who were not employed two days in the whole year, and whose entire receipts did not amount to five dollars. But it was necessary for the convenience of the citizens of every county, that they should have four or five Magistrates in different neighborhoods, to take acknowledgments of deeds, or to take testimony from females, and from the aged and infirm, who could not go to the county town for the purpose. If we vadertook to graduate their compensation, according to their business, could we say, half a century before hand, what each Magistrate's salary should be in proportion to his duties? Could we tell, with certainty, what would be the amount of business that each Magistrate would perform ? There was a limitation of the number of Justices fixed by the report of the committee. The report nade it necessary for the Legisla. ture to district the State, and limit the number of Justices to be voted for in each, before the elections; and until they did this, the people would have nothing to vote for, and there could be no election.

Mr. FLEMING said, the gentleman had allegedl, that he had fixed the - number of Justices in the report. In what section of it, was there any limitation of the number? Could the gentleman point it out to us? It was not competent, for us to leave this matter to a future Legislature, who might, or might not effect a limitation. We were bound to do it ourselves, and for that purpose, mainly, had this body been assembled, to leave the whole matter to the hazards of future legislation, would be a gross dereliction of our duty. The best way, in his opinion, to effect a practical limitation, was to require the people to pay their compensation, and their interest would then induce them to elect only such a number, as was necessary. Ile wanted a linitation which was tangible, and which the people could comprehend at a glance. The prospect of limitation by the Legislature, was not sufficient to satisfy them.

Unless we could raise the character of the Justices of the Peace, by limiting their

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nuaiber, we might as well do nothing on the subject. Any regular sys. tem that was now adopted, could be carried into effect, a century bence, just as well as now. There could be no difficulty about the details. Of all the plans which had been suggested, as yet, there was none which was so well adapted to the wants and interests of the people, as that which had been offered by the Judiciary committee, and he trusted, that it, with some modifications, would be adopted. He would go for any practicable reform, which would answer the object of removing this evil, and he had no doubt, that the proposition of the gentleman from Philadelphia, would tend to limit the number of the Justices; to raise their character; to render them more independent, and impartial; and to restore public confidence in the Magistracy. He conceived this to be a subject of vast importance. It was a question, whether we should break up a corrupt and iyrannical system, from which the most mischievous effects daily proceeded; whether we should suffer men, of moderate circumstances, and poor men to be daily dragged before the Justices, and robbed of their money, for the emolument of those men. He knew that there were many Justices of the Peace, who were honest and respectable men ; but, he also knew, that there were many who oppressed the people, and crcated business for the sake of their own emolument. The worthy and respectable of the

Magistracy, were not those who got the money, but it was those who ( were guilty of extortion and oppression, some of whom got rich by their

offices. To deprive them of their fees and perquisites, would have the effect to withdraw the inducement, which they now have, to promote liti gation. The gentleman from Susquehanna, objected that the compensation by fixed salary, would, necessarily, be unequal; but either the Legislature or the county Commissioners, could easily regulate the salary, so as to equal it in proportion to the amount of business done by cach Justice. There could be no better protection, against the number, and the extortions and corruptions of the Justices, than to allow them a salary, instead of fees of office. The people would not, then, ask for such a number, as would be a burden to them, and the officers themselves, would have no indacement to abuse their power.

Mr. Dunlop said, when this proposition was first offered, he was disposed to vote for it, out of respect to the judgment of the gentleman who offered it, and from a conviction, that something should be done, to correct the evils of the present system. But, in this, as well as any other subjeci, he kept his mind open to conviction, and, after listening to the argument, he had concluded to vote against it. The people of Pennsylvania were not disposed to increase the number of salaried officers. There was something odious to them in the very name. The number of Justices, as stated in the document before us, was now three thousand six hundred and thirty-six. It would not be tolerated, that such a number of salaried officers, should be thrown on the treasury; and even this number, great as it was, might be increased. It was said, that the Legislature might direct, what salaries should be paid ; but could they not also direct the mode of paying them? They might direct whether they should be paid by the counties, out of the public treasury, hy fees, or that they should not be paid at all. The Legislature had this power now, and he was not prepared to take it out of their hands. He doubted whether the people wouid

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