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which can be recognized by this court. The notes in question being, therefore, originally void, cannot be recognized by this court Judgment for the defendants.
GREAT BRITAIN. New APPOINTMENT. — Sir James Plaisted Wilde, Judge Ordinary and Judge of the Probate Court, has been raised to the peerage by the title of Baron Penzance of Penzance, in the County of Cornwall. Lord Penzance is the son of a solicitor, and nephew of the late Lord Truro, who was Lord Chancellor from 1850 to 1852.
· FIRST REPORT OF THE JUDICATURE COMMISSION. — This most distinguished Commission, appointed to investigate the system of English judicature, and to suggest changes and improvements therein, have submitted their first report, and have almost unanimously advised alterations in the existing system, so radical and so striking in their character, that a short abstract of the most important changes cannot fail to be interesting to our readers. We will attempt therefore, without criticism, to present a short and clear statement of them.
After a convincing and able summary of the evils which attend the present complicated systems, and the difficulty of obtaining a complete remedy in any case partaking of the double nature of law and equity, and also of the ineffectual attempts to patch up the present system, made by former commissions, the Commission advocate sweeping changes, which are briefly these : All the Superior Courts of Law and Equity, together with the Courts of Probate, Divorce, and Admiralty, shall be consolidated into one court, to be called “Her Majesty's Supreme Court," and all the jurisdiction now exercisable by each and all these courts shall be vested in this Supreme Court. This court shall be divided into as many chambers or divisions as the convenient despatch of business shall require; but all suits shall be instituted in the court as a whole, and not in any division, and each division shall bave the full powers of the court to administer such relief as all these courts combined can now administer. A single judge shall exercise the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, in the despatch of all such business appropriated to the divisions of the Queen's Bench, Common Pleas, and Exchequer, as may be remitted to him, and those cases which are now disposed of in bancs in those courts, shall be heard and determined by at most three judges of the new court. The procedure in this new Supreme Court shall be a simple one. Each suit shall be begun by a writ of summons, and in all cases where a money demand is the foundation of the action, the amount sought to be recovered shall be indorsed on the writ. The first step in the suit shall be the delivery to the defendant by the plaintiff of a short statement of the facts constituting the plaintiff's cause of complaint, not on oath, to be called the Declaration; and in return the defendant shall deliver to the plaintiff a similar statement of the facts constituting the defence, not on oath, to be called the Answer. The plaintiff may also reply to new facts, but the pleadings, without special permission, shall not go beyond the reply; amendments shall be permitted, however, at any stage of the proceedings. As to the mode of trial, great discretion shall be left to the court, and any questions may be tried in any division
of the court by, 1st, a judge; 2d, a jury; 3d, a referee; the mode to be applied in each case to be left, in great measure, to the discretion of the judge. The trial before a referee, who is an officer permanently attached to the court, and to be called an “official referee," or who may be appointed pro hac vice by the judge, shall be held in open court, and the decision of the referee shall have the same effect as a verdict at nisi prius. The evidence in this and all the modes of trial shall be taken by oral examination in open court; but affidavits may be taken and read in court, when the court shall so direct, but the witness making the affidavit shall be liable to cross-examination in open court at the discretion of the judge.
The changes in the arrangements of circuits, assizes, and terms, have only a local interest, and we omit them. Aliens having been resident ten years in England shall be liable, if qualified, to serve as jurors, and the jury de medietate linguæe shall be abolished. In the event of the death, illness, or default of attendance of any jurors during any trial, civil or criminal, the judge shall have power to allow the trial to proceed, and the verdict of the remaining jurors shall be a sufficient one. The unhappy jurors who have hitherto, in a legal point of view, “wallowed naked in December's snow,” shall in future be allowed a fire, and, if the judge is sufficiently amiable, even refreshments can be given them.
In the important matter of Appeals there is urgent need for reform, as the present system is an extraordinarily complicated one, and the “law's delay" in obtaining an answer is only one of the attendant evils. The proposed substitute is better, but the change is not yet sufficiently thorough, and there is a natural hesitation felt by the Commission to attack in any way the prerogatives of the House of Lords. The new method is this: The Courts of Exchequer Chamber and Appeal in Chancery shall be abolished, and in their stead, as a part of the Supreme Court, shall be established a “ Court of Appeal,” consisting of “The Lord Chancellor, the Lords Justices, the Master of the Rolls, three other permanent judges, and three of the judges of the Supreme Court, nominated annually by the Crown. Another Vice-Chancellor shall be appointed to fill the place now occupied by the Master of the Rolls. Not less than three judges shall sit at a time, and the nominated judges must never form the majority of the judges sitting. An appeal shall lie to this court in all suits not strictly criminal, from any division or judge of the Supreme Court, with certain exceptions. There shall also be a right of appeal from this court to the House of Lords, and also a direct appeal to the same from the Supreme Court in matters of law, if the respondent consents, but not otherwise. The exceptions referred to are these: appeals from judgments, &c., founded on the verdict of a jury, the verdict of a judge performing the functions of a jury except on matters of law, interlocutory orders made by any division of the Supreme Court, unless there is a difference of opinion among the judges, or special leave given by the court, and appeals as to costs only. All proceedings in error and bills of exceptions shall be abolished, and every appeal shall be brought by notice of motion by way of appeal, in a summary way, without any formal procedure. Bills of review for error apparent on the record shall also be abolished, the court reserving the power to rectify any error which may have occurred in drawing up any judgment, decree, or order.
VICE-CHANCELLOR JAMES'S COURT. — United States v. McRae. Bill by the United States of America stating the formation of divers persons owing allegiance to the plaintiffs into an association for the purpose of carrying on a rebellion against the Government of the United States ; the usurpation of plaintiffs' authority, and formation of u pretended government; the possession, by such pretended government, of moneys, goods, and treasure, partly public property of plaintiffs, and partly contributed by persons owing allegiance to plaintiffs, and acquired by such pretended government in the exercise of their usurped authority; all which moneys and goods became part of the public property of such pretended government, and were employed in aid of the Rebellion.
The bill proceeded to allege that the pretended government and their agents sent money and goods to the defendant, McRae, in this country, and that McRae sold a large part of such goods, and received the moneys from such sale; and, at the dissolution of the pretended government, had in his possession or power money and goods which had been sent to him, or which had arisen from goods so sent to him.
The bill then stated the suppression of the Rebellion, and the submission by the persons forming the pretended or so-called confederate government to the authority of the United States Government; that all the joint and public property of the pretended government had vested in plaintiffs ; that no claim was set up on behalf of the pretended government; and that the said moneys and goods were now the absolute property of plaintiffs, and ought to be delivered to them.
The bill accordingly prayed an account of all moneys and goods which came to his hands as agent for or otherwise on behalf of the pretended confederate government during the late insurrection, and of his dealings therewith, and payment by defendant of the moneys which, on taking such account, might be in his hands, and a delivery over of the goods in his hands.
To this bill the defendant had put in a plea both to the discovery and to the relief, on the ground that, by American legislation, the acts stated in the bill exposed him to penalties and forfeitures. United States v. McRae, Law Rep. 4 Eq. 327 ; 3 Ch. 79. [2 Am. Law Rev. 365, 587.]
On appeal, the plea to the relief was overruled; but the plea to the discovery was allowed. The defendant had not put in any answer, and the case now came on for hearing.
Sir R. Palmer, Q.C., and Wickens, for the plaintiffs.
The agency of defendant in this country was entirely limited to the confederate loan, and he never received either money or goods from America, and no property of the confederate government was in his hands at the end of the war. In any case, as the plaintiffs bad, by proclamation, declared that all debts and obligations incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States were illegal and void, they could not, after repudiating the liabilities, claim any benefit by account in respect of this insurrectionary loan.
The Vice-Chancellor (Sir W. M. James) dismissed the bill with costs, holding that the United States, at the termination of the Rebellion, had no right to the property contributed to or acquired by the suppressed confederate government, except by title derived from or through the confederate government, and could not claim from an agent of the confederate government an account of his ageney, and at the same time repudiate all privity of title with him and his former principals, and the liability to pay to such agent the balance which might be found due to him in the result of the account as between himself and his former principals. — Weekly Notes.