Page images

ject except the inconvenience of attending court and they will tell you: "It will not be long until we have a hard-surfaced road from Hazard to Lexington." "It won't be long now.”

I enjoy travel, whether it is easy or difficult.

Now, Pikeville is on the Mayo Trail Highway No. 23, and before long that whole country will be intersected by many roads which will make travel a pleasure trip. But if Pikeville should have a court, and if Paintsville should have a court, and if Somerset should have a court, and if Pineville should have a court-if you are going to give another court, then give Hazard a court.

I do not want to say anything that might seem as if I opposed the establishment of a court at Hazard. It will not hurt Lexington, for they frequently transfer the causes from Jackson to Lexington. Section 83 of the Judicial Code protects this business. Suit must be brought at the place nearest to the residence of the defendant, or it can be transferred there. You can not make them go to trial at one place if they prefer another which is nearer to them. The only question is economy.

Most of us know how anxious this Government of ours is in its efforts to practice economy; and I submit to you you can pile up statistics to the crack of doom and you can never prove that it will be cheaper in the end to provide not a new district but a new judge. You do not need any more district attorneys, nor do you need other United States marshals or clerks of courts. You may need a deputy clerk, that is all, but you do not need the vast machinery incident to and tied up with a new district.

Another word or two more and I will have finished.

May it please the members of the committne: In conclusion we submit that as to the argument of growth of business, the statements about that are illusive, if not misleading. Not intentionally but in fact. The more you study the situation the more you will see that the alleged growth of business does not exist.

In the second place, on the question of inaccessibility, that argument is dissipated, for both by rail and highway and with automobiles and with auto busses and with airplanes we can reach any point. So I would like to make one statement to cover the whole case as to ease of traffic by saying that I have friends who speak of having made the trip from Lexington to Asheville in a very short space of time; in fact, so short that they could not get up that speed unless the roads were passable; and you have to drive right through southeastern Kentucky to make this trip.

As to economy, the argument there is answered by saying it is much cheaper for the Government to provide additional judges rather than to create additional districts. Now, that there nay be no possible misapprehension as to the position of Judge Cochran, let me say he is not asking for an additional judge. He says he is not in need of one. He says: “If Judge Dawson needs it I shall be entirely pleased and shall not oppose it. I shall be pleased to have an additional judge, and especially if as to the place, the law provides that he shall be available for service in both the eastern and western districts."

But as to Judge Cochran, he is holding court to-day; taking it to the people in the city of Covington, Ky. He is opposed to this legislation; and I want to say it is not a mere personal matter with him. There are personal considerations which Judge Cochran might have urged on this committee about which he has been settled;

but he is opposed to it because he knows better than any living man what the State of Kentucky is to be subjected to after the fashion proposed in this bill. My opinion is that not in 100 years, on the facts, would there be a real necessity for an additional Federal district court in the State of Kentucky.

There are some provisions of this bill which seek to hold the terms of court in new towns and not all over the State. There is one in my congressional district--one or two towns. Judge Laffoon, a State circuit judge in the western district, wants to be heard at the convenience of the committee on that proposition, not as to the merits or demerits of the question but simply to ask when the committee would sit again.

Mrs. LANGLEY. Does that close the opposition?

Mr. THATCHER. I have nothing further to offer except these briefs, and so forth.

Mrs. LANGLEY. We have two amendments by Members of Congress to the proposed bill.

The CHAIRMAN. I think probably a number of us on this committee want to be on the floor of the House this afternoon, and I was wondering if we could have an evening session to conclude the hearing and adjourn now.

Mr. STOBBs. How much time do you want, Mrs. Langley?

Mrs. LANGLEY. Thirty to forty minutes would be sufficient for the presentation of the views of all those who favor the amendment to the bill.

The CHAIRMAN. I think that our sitting 40 minutes would include time enough for the amendments and whatever is to be offered by the other side. Do you think that would suffice? If it would, we could meet again at 2 o'clock to-day? Since that seems to meet with favor, we will adjourn now to meet again at 2 o'clock.


Chairman Christopherson presiding. The chairman called the meeting to order at 2 o'clock. Present: The chairman, Mr. Christopherson, Mr. Stobbs, and Mr. Swanson.

The CHAIRMAN. Are there any further witnesses, Mr. Thatcher? Mr. THATCHER. Mr. Calvert wishes to make a statement.


Mr. CALVERT. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I came from Pineville, Bell County, Ky., which is in the extreme southeastern part of the State and in the new southern judicial district of Kentucky, as proposed to be created by this bill.

I have a letter here from S. Monroe Nickell, attorney, Lexington, Ky., addressed to the chairman of this committee, which I wish to read and hand to the chairman. This letter is dated April 5, 1930, and reads:

DEAR SIR: An effort is being made to create an additional Federal judicial district in Kentucky. We have, as you know, two districts in Kentucky. As I understand, both Federal judges here are opposed to the creation of another district. I have lived most of my life in the proposed new or southern district. I know the people of that section very well. Aside from a number of persons whose business is principally politics, I am quite sure that a majority of the people

of that section would prefer that the matter be let alone and that Judges Cochran and Dawson be permitted to preside in the whole State. They have both been able to do the work so far and to do it well. They are both very active and know how to handle the business and both do it to the entire satisfaction of the people of the State.

Besides all this, this new district draws a line at the foothills of Kentucky and separates the bluegrass section from the mountain section of the State. It thus has a tendency to segregate the one from the other section, and the people of both sections do not want this done. A study of the railroads and transportation facilities of the country will show that it is more convenient to both sections to have them continue together. The Big Sandy, Kentucky River, Licking River, and Cumberland River roads and railroads all lead out to the bluegrass section of the State; and it is much more accessible for court offices to have the district as it is now divided remain intact. There is no such volume of business in Kentucky, and no immediate prospect of any such, that the present two judges can not handle and handle well.

I am quite sure that if it were left to the people here in Kentucky they would overwhelmingly oppose the creation of an additional district. Most of this district is taken from the eastern district of Kentucky, Judge Cochran, who has endeared himself to them because of his great ability, judicial temperament, and great services which he has rendered them.

We feel that no new district is necessary at this time or in the near future, and that it would not be right to impose one in the face of the fact that the State is so well taken care of at this time by its two judges, both of whom desire to have it left as it is.

S. MONROE NICKELL. I also wish to read a letter from Judge Cochran to Judge Wilson. I desire to read this now. (Extract from letter of March 30, 1930, addressed by Hon. A. M. J. Cochran, judge of the United States

District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, to Maj. Samuel M. Wilson, attorney, of Lexington Ky.)

On the merits of the bill, I give you these facts as to the necessity for the new district. During the year ended June 30, 1929, more cases were disposed of in each department of the business of the court—United States criminal, United States civil, private civil, and bankruptcy--than were brought. In all, 120 more cases were disposed of than were brought. This can be verified by the last report of the Attorney General. Since 1923 there has been a gradual and marked falling off in the civil business. The number of new civil suits brought in 1923 were 214; in 1924, 205; in 1925, 201; in 1926, 185; in 1927, 189; 1928, 160; and in 1929, 125. This is due to decrease in the business. There has also been an appreciable falling off in the criminal business. Thus far this spring I have held two terms of court-at Jackson and Frankfort. The number of new criminal cases begun at these terms as compared with the fall terms are as follows: Jackson, September term, 1929, 401; March term, 1930, 240. Frankfort, September term, 1929, 152; March term, 1930, 114. I expect to see a marked falling off of the criminal business in the near future.

The physical conformation of the State is such that it can not be divided into three districts of substantially the same size in point of business. It can not be so divided by running lines from the Ohio River to the Tennessee line. This is so because of its width at the eastern end and narrowing toward the western end, with Louisville near the center. The new bill creates two new districts in the eastern end, each of which will be much inferior in point of business to the western district. After nearly 29 years of satisfactory service rendered in a fine district, it relegates me to a small insignificant one. It takes from me a large portion of my position without any justification for it.

The matter that will be stressed most will be providing of more places of holding court. The business that will go to Richmond, Somerset, Paintsville, and London can be disposed of in two days, if not in one. The provision of a court at Hazard will practically destroy the business at Jackson, so that the court officials can go to Jackson on one train, transact the business there, and leave on the next going the other way: The establishment of a court at Pineville will have nearly the same effect on the court at London. There is no occasion for providing any other place of holding court in the eastern district than at Pineville. Provision should be made for holding court there. A case could be made for Hazard and Pineville if it were not for Jackson and London. There are now seven places of holding court in this district. The bill creates 5 additional places in what is now the eastern district, making 12 in all, which is absurd and ridiculous. But there is no necessity of dividing the district in order to have new places of holding court. I will guarantee to hold court at all the places suggested and keep up with the business or retire from the bench.

The basis of legislation of this sort ought to be the relief of congestion of court business. Federal judicial districts ought not to be created unless there is a necessity for them.

I have a better plan for relief than the proposal to appoint an additional judge, and that is (a) to abolish three divisions in the eastern district of Kentucky, to wit: Jackson, Frankfort, and Richmond; and (b) to create two divisions, one at Hazard and one at Pikeville; and (c) in that way courts can be placed wherever they ought to be to serve the people efficiently

The figures showing the volume of business in the eastern district of Kentucky are good-looking on paper, but they do not reflect conditions as they exist in the courts. They show a falling off of the criminal business of 257 criminal cases in 1929 over what they were in 1928. In 1928 they show 3,346 convictions, and in 1929 they show 3,293 convictions, 53 less convictions in 1929 than in 1928.

Of these convictions 90 per cent were on pleas of guilty, and 75 per cent of these pleas were entered before United States commissioners at the preliminary trial. The figures also show 3,727 cases disposed of in 1929, which leaves 435 acquitals. Of these acquitals 95 per cent of them were on directed verdicts to find the defendant not guilty when the United States declined to introduce any evidence. They show a falling off of the private civil business. In 1928 there were 160 civil cases instituted in the eastern district of Kentucky. In 1929 there were 125, or a decrease of 20 per cent. In 1928 there were 187 cases terminated in the eastern district of Kentucky. In 1929 there were 176 cases terminated in the eastern district of Kentucky, or 11 fewer than the preceding year.

In 1928 there were 541 bankruptcy proceedings instituted. In 1929 there were 593 bankruptcy proceedings instituted, or an increase of about 10 per cent.

In 1928 there were 539 bankruptcy cases terminated, and in 1929, 622; or 83 more.

Everyone who knows anything about bankruptcy practice knows that these cases rarely come before the court except upon a motion to confirm a report of the referee and, therefore, they do not involve any long trails at all.

The Government cases listed include forfeiture-of-appearance bonds, revenue, and Veterans' Bureau cases. There are none, or very few, revenue cases in the eastern district of Kentucky.

Forfeiture-of-appearance bonds constitutes 75 per cent of the Government's civil cases. To these there is never any defense. Veterans' Bureau cases make up an appreciable part of these. At the last general term of the court at Lexington, Ky., there were 22 Veterans' Bureau cases; and because of the parties not being ready then to try them the court said they would have to be tried during the third week in March of this year; and it went to Lexington and held a special term and disposed of them all in three days.

The creation of the southern district of Kentucky will automatically take from the present judicial district 75 per cent of its civil business and 90 per cent of its criminal business; and it will create in the south

[ocr errors]

ern district the same condition which the present bill professes to seek to correct in the eastern district.

I think everybody here, including the members of the committee, will agree that legislation of this sort should never be passed unless there is a clear necessity for it, and the necessity for the creation of new Federal court districts should be real and not imaginary. I think everybody will agree that that is true.

The Federal judicial system never has been and it ought not to be used for political aggrandizement. The Federal courts have always had the high respect of all the members of the bar and all the laymen of the country, and I am sorry to say that in Kentucky the State courts do not meet with the same respect that the Federal courts do. That is mainly because the State courts are right at home where the people can see them every day and familiarity is alleged to breed contempt.

Now, the opposition to this bill does not seem to be able to get together with any sort of agreement. It is proposed by Judge Thatcher and not opposed by Judge Wilson that the location of the new Federal district judge should not be fixed at some definite point, but he should perambulate between these two districts.

The Chairman (Mr. StoBBS). Entirely aside from this particular legislation we are considering, there has been a good deal of study put in on the congestion in the different courts throughout the country in reference to prohibition cases, and in that study the volume of business in eastern Kentucky has naturally attracted attention to the way in which the volume of business has been handled by Judge Cochran.

I am interested, therefore, in having you address yourself to that point, as to whether or not vou feel there is too much congestion in the courts of eastern Kentucky.

Mr. Calvert. I am undertaking to show that there is no congestion. You can not consider what does not exist. At the beginning of the term of court the number of cases on the calendar must be noted, and then what remains of them after the court has finished and disposed of all the cases it has at that term. Then, if there is congestion in what remains, there is your index of the amount of congestion. And if there is none, if your calendar is practically cleared, then there can be no congestion in that district.

Now, Judge Cochran said in the abstract of his letter that there are seven places for holding Federal court in his district, but I can not think of more than six. We have one at Covington, the seat of the court; one at Frankfort, one at Richmond, one at Jackson, one at London, one at Richmond, and one at Catlettsburg--how many is that?

The CHAIRMAN. Seven.

Mr. CALVERT. This whole question can be determined --can be determined by abolishing two and leaving three in this division in Kentucky.

Chairman STOBES. What do you mean by “division "'?

Mr. CALVERT. 1 division is a place fixed for holding court. In the eastern district of Kentucky we know them, and by an order of the court certain counties of the eastern district of Kentucky are allotted to that particular division From those counties you must file all suits that you bring that are triable in the division. A deputy clerk is maintained in each division

« PreviousContinue »