Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

ing law there for many years, became an Assistant Attorney General of the United States, in 1903. In 1907 he went back to private practice, but was employed so frequently by the Government as leading Counsel in the prosecutions under the anti-trust law that his name became familiar in every part of the United States. When President "Wilson went into office he selected Mr. McReynolds for his Attorney General, and on the occurrence of the first vacancy, promoted him to the highest court in the land. His appointment was received with favor by the Bar of the country.

An Important Decision In Bankruptcy.—In the Supreme Court of the United States, there was decided on November 29, 1915, the case of Bailey v. Baker Ice Machine Company,1 where the court was called upon to determine for the first time the operative force and effect of the amendment of June 25, 1910, to the National Bankruptcy Law, giving a trustee in bankruptcy the right of a creditor holding a lien by legal process. The precise question arose in this way. A contract of conditional sale, required by the law of the state governing the contract, to be recorded in order to be valid as against creditors, executed in November, 1911, was not recorded until May 15, 1912. At the date of the recording, the purchaser was insolvent and the seller had reasonable cause to believe that such was the fact. Bankruptcy followed within four months of May 15, 1912. It was contended on the part of the trustee in bankruptcy that he was entitled to the rights of a creditor holding a lien by legal process as of a date anterior to the recording of the contract. This contention is denied by the Supreme Court. The Court holds that the rights of the trustee as a creditor holding a lien attaches as of the time of the filing of the petition and it is the condition at that time which fixes the status of the trustee.

Another question of great interest arose in this way: It was contended on the part of the trustee in Bankruptcy that the filing of the contract of conditional sale operated as a preferential transfer. It was claimed by the trustee that before the contract was filed for record, the property therein described was subject to have been levied upon for the debts of the purchaser and that if the contract had not been recorded prior to the filing of the petition in bankruptcy the trustee in bankruptcy would have retained the property. The Court, however, held that the contract itself did not operate as a preferential transfer because under the contract nothing passed from the seller to the purchaser. A petition for rhearing was filed in which counsel insisted that it was not the

[ocr errors]

contract so much that operated as a preferential transfer as the delayed recording thereof at a time when by reason of the non-recording, a right was existing on the part of creditors to levy on the property and claim the property as against the seller. On January 10, 1916, the petition for rehearing was denied, no opinion being filed, and hence the court has announced the doctrine that where a contract of conditional sale is delayed in recording, the recording thereof does not operate as a preferential transfer because by the contract itself nothing passed from the seller to the purchaser.

Bench And BarThe Necrology Of 1915.—No member of our great National Tribunal—the Supreme Court of the United States —was called away by death during the past year, but the lower Federal Coujts have lost William H. Seaman of the Circuit Court of Appeals of the First Circuit, James L. Martin, of the District Court of Vermont, and William H. Munger, of the District Court of Arkansas, and John H. Baker, a retired Judge of the District Court of Indiana, and Smith McPherson, of the District Court of Iowa. And from the Supreme Courts of the States, present and past, have gone John C. Gray, for many years a distinguished member of the Court of Appeals, and John J. Delaney and Joseph A. Burr, of New York; Warwick Hough, more than a quarter of a century ago Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Missouri, and John C. Brown, a late member of that tribunal; Gibson A. Brown, of Oklahoma; John V. Hadley, of Indiana; Alonzo K. Vickers, of Illinois; Leonard S. Roan, of Georgia; John P. Elkin, of Pennsylvania; Thomas J. Brown, of Texas; John A. Tinnon, a nonagenarian of Tennessee; Henderson M. Somerville, of Alabama; Joseph P. Bradley, of Ohio, and Herman D. Crow, of Washington; Charles S. Kane, once Chief Justice of Utah, and a partner of Abraham Lincoln; John McClure, Chief Justice of Arkansas in Reconstruction days; Charles E. Granger and Emlin McClain, both one time Chief Justices of Iowa, and the latter a greater legal scholar, educator and teacher.

On the long roll of the Bar of the different States are William L. Moose, Attorney General of the State and A. B. Grace, of Arkansas; Edward Harland, a veteran of the Civil War, of Connecticut; William J. Hynea and Charles I. Barker, Oliver H. Horton, an ex judge, Benjamin S. Cable, killed in an automobile accident, and John C. Black, a soldier in the Civil War, Commapder in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, a Federal District Attorney, a Commissioner of Pensions, and a chairman of the Federal Civil Service Commission of Illinois; Richard M. Milburn, Attorney General of Indiana; Charles F. Libby, a former President of the American Bar Association and Charles E. Littlefield, a former well known member of Congress, and George M. Seiders, of Maine; John D. Long, ex-Governor and Secretary of the Navy during the Spanish War; James R. Dunbar and Marquis F. Dickenson, of Massachusetts; John C. Burrows, a former United States Senator of Michigan; Charles 0. Tichenor, a lawyer of the old school, honorable and learned, "We shall not soon look upon his like again;" and William Cowherd, one of the most brilliant members of the Bar that this State has produced, and a public man of integrity and action, both as Mayor of a great city and its representative in Congress, and Joseph S. Botsford, of Missouri; Joseph P. Osborne, William H. Williams, James P. Vanderburgh, Nelson Runyan, William E. Skinner and David Crater, of New Jersey; Benjamin F. Tracy, an ex-judge and ex-Secretary of the Navy; William M. Ivins, Thomas H. Hubbard; Albert H. Walker and George Hazeltine, both high authorities on Patent law; Holmes Conrad, formerly Solicitor General of the United States; William B. Hoyt, Mark D. Wilber, Andrew J. Shipman, William Jay, a lineal descendant of the first Chief Justice of the United States; John E. Parsons; Paul Fuller, an international lawyer of note; George M. Curtis, of, New York. George Noland, of Oregon; Samuel Dickson, William U. Hensel, an educator and politician, as well as a distinguished lawyer, and Samuel A. McClung, of Pennsylvania; Willis S. Knowles, a district Judge, killed by an unknown assassin, of Rhode Island; Edgar M. Thompson, of Sduth Carolina; Henry H. Ingersoll of Tennessee; John A. Reed, of Texas; John E. Humphreys, of Washington; Justice Alexander B. Hagner, Richard Ross Perry, and J. N. McGill, of the District of Columbia, and Nicholas W. Mclvor, formerly Consul General, and Judge of the United States Court at Yokohama.

Legal education, legal authorship and legal publication, lose in the past year Emlin Maclain, once Dean of the Law Department of the University of Iowa; Allen G. Hall, Dean of the Law Department of Vanderbilt University; Ezra R. Thayer, Dean of Harvard Law School, Anthony G. Sedgwick, of New York, a son of the author of the classic work on Damages, himself a law writer of note, and at one time an editor of the American Law Review; Sidney K. Smith, of Kentucky, a legal author; George M. Bartlett, of St. Louis, for more than a quarter of a century the publisher of the American Law Review, and Frederick G. Sanborn, the head of the noted San Francisco publishing house, the BancroftWhitney Company and the youngest and last to go over to the majority of that great triumvirate which conceived and brought to a successful completion the monumental work, the American Decisions,—Frederick P. Stone, Joseph Hasbrouek and Frederick G. Sanborn.

The British Empire has lost two great jurists of international fame, Lord Alverstone, until three years ago Chief Justice of England, and who as a member of the Alaska Boundary Commission, gave his decision in favor of the United States, and Sir William Rann Kennedy, Lord Justice of Appeal, one of the founders and Presidents of the International Law Association, and who has three times been the guest in this country of the American Bar Association. Other Judges of eminence who have passed away in England are Sir Thomas Bucknill, formerly a King's Bench Judge; Sir George Farwell, formerly a member of the Court of Appeal. With professional honors and at a ripe old age, the Bar has lost Sir Edward C. Leigh, K. C, and George F. Pollock, of the celebrated family of that name. But alas! for the roll of the younger men; it is a sad and heartrending list which every week comes, to us in the columns of the English law journals, the youth of the profession, the men just beginning a professional life so full of hope and promise—dead by the score in the trenches in Prance and at Gallipoli!

Canada has lost James Maclennan, sometime a Judge of the Supreme Court of the Dominion; John J. Drew, A. E. H. Creswick; E. E. A. Du Vernet, Donald Guthrie, and John T. Lewis, all King's Counsel of Ontario; James Stewart Tupper, of Manitoba; Honore A. Gervais, a Justice of the Court of Appeal; Augustus C. Papineau; Simeon Pagnuelo, Romuald Delafausse, K. O, and M. E. Charpenter, the Dean of the Bar of Montreal, of the Province of Quebec. Other Judges of the Empire who have died during 1915, include Lord Justice Moriarty, of the highest Irish Court; Sir Arthur Collins, of Madras; Sir Ernest A. Northcote, of Trinidad; Sir Charles P. Layard, of Ceylon, each a former Chief Justice of these British possessions.

France has lost Emile Forechon, President of the Court of Appeal at Paris, and a former Senator of France, and Edmund Seligman, an avocat of the first rank as well as an author of distinction, and who was counsel for both the brothers Wright and M. Marconi in their patent litigation in Europe. And there has died in 1915, that great international lawyer and statesman whom genius made Russia gain by diplomacy from Japan more than she had lost by war—Count Sergius Witte.

Compelling Purlic Service Corporations To Serve The PurLic.—In a recent Mississippi case27" it was held that where a natural person purchased the assets and franchise of an electric lighting plant, he thereby assumed the duty to operate it for the benefit of

"a State v. Benson, 67 South 214.

the public, and could be compelled by mandamus to do so. The Court said in part:

"The petition avers that the Capital Light & Power Company is a Mississippi corporation, and that it secured a charter from the State giving it the power to conduct the business of furnishing to the public electric current; that it procured from the City of Jackson a license or franchise to set its poles and string its wires upon the streets and alleys of the city for the purpose of serving the public; that in the exercise of this license or franchise it did use the streets and alleys and did contract with a large number of the inhabitants of the city to furnish electric current; that for several years the corporation engaged in the active use of its franchise by serving the general public with electric current; that it was eventually adjudicated a bankrupt and its assets and franchises were sold by order of the court and were purchased by defendant; that, in pursuance of a combination and conspiracy to bring about a monopoly and destroy competition, the defendant shut down the plant and refused to perform the duty of the corporation to the public.

"Will the courts, under these circumstances, refuse to intervene and compel the successor of the corporation to perform the duties of the corporation? This, we believe, was the precise question presented to the Circuit Court. "Mr. Benson bought the franchise of the corporation to do business in Jackson. The corporation took possession of and enjoyed this franchise for several years. The corporation undertook to and did perform the duties of a public service corporation in exchange for the license or franchise to use the property of the city for this purpose? He cannot hold on to the benefits of his purchase without incurring the obligation to perform the duties of the trust. This seems to be m,ade certain when it appears that he refuses to assume the burdens, if burdens there be, because he has entered into a compact with others to do so for the purpose of creating a monopoly—of destroying competition.

"There seems to be no conflict in the authorities that courts possess in proper cases the power to compel trustees of a public trust to perform the duties of such a trust. Leaving out of view section 910, Code of 1906, it seems clear that Mr. Benson assumed the burdens of an involuntary trustee when he took over the franchise of the corporation, and is declining to use the same for the purpose of creating a monopoly. The apparent conflict in the decisions of the courts upon the power of the courts to compel the performance of legal duties of trustees grows out of the peculiar state of facts in the several cases. In some cases the courts have refused to issue the writ of mandamus because it appeared that the corporation, or trustee, was unable to perform. In other cases the writ was denied because, in the opinion of the courts, to compel the performance of the alleged duty would work a great hardship without a compensating benefit. There is and can be no conflict of judgment that, in proper cases, the courts wilj and do exercise the power to compel the performance of legal duties. The petition in this case declares a state of facts which justifies the exercise of this extraordinary power."

Regulating The Hours Op Work Of Women.—The Supreme Court of the United States has decided that forbidding the employment of women in certain specified establishments for more than eight hours in one day of forty-eight hours in one week, as is done by a California statute passed in 1911, does not. as applied to women VOL, L. 7

« PreviousContinue »