Kentucky. Constitutional Convention (1849-1850).

Report of the debates and proceedings of the Convention for the revision of the constitution of the state of Kentucky, 1849 [microform] online

. (page 176 of 294)
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section, and insert the following:

"Tho general assembly shall have power to
increase tiie number of judges and districts, as
the exigencies of the country may require: Pro-
vided, that no more than one district shall be es-
tab ished at any one session of the legislature."

I do not think we ought to restrict legislation
upon this subject, as proposed in tlie report. I
think the legislature should have power to in-
crease the number of judges and judicial districts,
wlieu an increase sliall be demanded by the peo-
ple. Providing, as I do, that only one district
shall be established at any one session of the
legislature, we shall avoid any thing like com-



675



Sination between different sections of country.
This, I think, will insure us against the estab-
lishment of any judicial district, unless the ne-
cessities of the country require it.

Mr. HARDIN. I tfiink tho whole provision
■will be valueless, if we adopt this amendment.
"We began our circuit court system with ten or
eleven districts, and we have been adding to
them, until we have now got the most cumber
some system of circuit courts in the United
States. ' We have now got nineteen judges, and
if we leave it to the legislature, we shall have as
many, if not more, in future. Gentlemen are
aware that for the last five hundred years, they
have had but twelve circuit judges in England,
until within a few years past, when I under-
stand thev have added a thirteenth judge. There
was a judge for the high court of chancery, and
a master of the rolls, making but fourteen in
all, while we have had nineteen judges. I think
there ought to be some restriction upon the pow-
er of the legislature in this respect. While up
— for I am more anxious upon this subject than
anv other — and that we may adjourn in the
course of a few weeks, I call for the previous
question .

Tlie previous question was sustained, and un-
der its operation the amendment was rejected.

The section was then adopted.

The tenth section was then read as follows :

"Sec. 10. The judges of tlie circuit courts
shall, at stated times, receive for their services
an adequate compensation, to be fixed by law,
which shall not be diminished during the time
for which they shall have been elected."

Mr. HARDIN. The bill as originally framed,
fixed the minimum of the salaries to be paid to
the judges at $1,600, the number of judges be-
ing reduced from nineteen to twelve. The com-
mittee of thirty struck out $1,600. I want to
see the best talent that can be obtained placed
upon the bench, and in order to secure that tal-
ent, I think the minimum ought not to be less
than $1,600.

Mr. C. A. WICKLIFFE. I am inclined to the
opinion that in putting together the amendments
adoped by the committee of thirty, one was pre-
termitted. My recollection is, that there was an
amendment adopted at the instance of the gen-
tleman from HicKinan, (Mr. James,) that the sal-
aries of judges should be equal and uniform
throughout the commonwealth. I therefore beg
pardon of the committee and of the house for

J)retermitting the amendment, and now offer it
or insertion.

The motion was agreed to, and the following
words inserted aft«r the word "law," "which
shall be equal and uniform throughout the
state."

Mr. MERIWETHER. I will offer the follow-
ing as a substitute for tho section under conside-
ration ;

" Each circuit judge shall receive from the
public trojiHury an ailoquate compensation, to be
fixed by law, and sliall not be diminished during
their respective continuance in office, and shall

never be less than hundred dollars per

annum, and which shall be equal and uniform
throughout the state."

It will b« perceived that this is precisely the



same as the original section, except that it fixes
a minimum salary.

Mr. NESBITT. I beg to offer as an amend-
ment fo the amendment the following :

"Provided, That whenever a new judge is add-
ed, his salary shall be raised by deductions from
the salaries of those already in office."

Mr. HARGIS. There is much in this article
that is not agreeable to me, but in the spirit of
compromise, I am willing to sacrifice some of
mv own views, and therefore I hope the section
will be allowed to stand as it is.

The amendment to the amendment was re-,
jected.

Mr. MACHEN. I prefer that the whole sub-
ject shall be left to tlie people, unless we fix a
large minimum. It appears to me that $1,600 is
the smallest salary that will give us any reasona-
ble chance of procuring the services of men of
the best talent. But I think it will be better to
leave the whole matter to the legislature.

Mr. W.C.MARSHALL. I propose that $1,800
be the minimum fixed, as tne salary of these
judges.

Mr. WALLER. I propose $1,600 as the mini-
mum.

Mr. MERIWETHER. I accept the proposi-
tion of the gentleman from Woodford, (Mr.
Waller.)

The question then being upon striking out
$1,600, and inserting $1,800.

Mr. C. A. WICKLIFFE. I shall vote for the
largest amount named. I believe, from my in-
tercourse with the delegates upon this floor, that
there will be perhapsno better opportunity to test
the views of this convention, as to whether the
judges shall be liberally compensated for their
services. I am disinclined, however, to fix eitlier
a minimum or maximum salary in the constitu-
tion, for there is great sensitiveness on the .sub-
ject of the salaries of officers; and although a
large portion of the community who are in favor
of a well regulated judiciary, would be willing
to vote a large and competent salary, yet if you
were to tell these men that the organic law had
fixed it beyond their control, you might produce
intheirminds aprejudice againstthis constitution
difficult to be removed. I had intended at the
proper time, to offer, on my own responsibility,
the amendment which I proposed in committee;
that the next legislature, coining in under the new
constitution, fully impressed, Jis I trust it will
be, with the importance of giving this experi-
ment a just and impartial trial, sliould fix the
salaries of the judicial officers at a standard
which shouhl not be diminished for eight or ten
years; and by that means we should secure
better salaries, and free the constitution from the
danger of attack, because of its inhibition on the
subject of salaries.

If the amendment under consideration should
be rejected. I shall offer, in the shape of an addi-
tion section, the substance of what I have indi-
cated.

Mr. NESBITT. My opinion is, that if we
fix a minimum in the constitution, we ought to
give the legislature the power t« reduce that
iniiiimum whenever they increase the number of
judges. I have no objection to fixing a mini-
mum, provided this principle be adopted. The
legislature may increase the number to twenty.



671



and if so^ it is not to b* expected that they f Alfred M. Jackson, Alexander K. Marshall,
should each receive a salary of $1,600. When [Martin P. Marehall, William C. Marshall, John
in order, I \rill move to" add the following j H. McHenry, David Meriwether, William D.
proviso: JMitdiell, John D Morris, Larkin J. Proctor,

"Provided, That when the general assembly I James Rudd, John W, Stevt-nson, Albert G.
shall deem it neoessarv to increase the number Talbott, Philip Tripl»rtt, Squire Turner, John
of judges, they shall have the power to reduce JL. Waller, George W. Williams, Wesley J.-
the salary thereof ; but they shall not have pow- Wright — 24.

er to depart from the principle of equality and Navs — Richaid Apperson, John L. Ballinger,
uniformity." John S. Barlow, Alfred Boyd, William Brad-

Mr. MfiRIWETHER. I presume the legisla- ley, Luther Brawner. Fraucis'M. Bristow, Thom-
ture will never increase the number of judges : as D. Brown, Charles Chambers, William Che-
tintil there shall be an increase of business to i nault, James S. Chrisraan, Beverly L. Clarke,
justify it. And whenever there is that increase ! Jesse CofFev, Henry R. D. Coleman, Benjamin
of business, there should be no reduction of the I Copelin, ^\ illiam Cowper, Edward Curd, Lucius
existing salary, because the old judges would I Desha, Chasteen T. Dunavan, Benjamin F. Ed-
have the same amount of business to perform. I i wards, Milford Elliott, Green Forrest, ^Nathan
make this remark in opposition to the amend- 1 Gaither, James H. Garrard, Richard D. Gholson,
ment of the gentleman from Bath, (Mr. Nesbitt,) j Thomas J. Gough, Ninian E. Gray, James P.
but we are now about to test the plan of an Hamilton, John Hargis, Vincent S. Hay, William
elective judiciary, and I want it to have a fair Hendrix, Thomas J. Hood, Mark E. Huston,
test; and unless you give salaries that will James W. Irwin, Thomas James, William John-
elicit the best talents in the country, we shall ■ son, George W. Kavanaugh, Charles C. Kelly,
never get good judges. I trust therefore, that James M. Lackey, Peter Lashbrooke, Thomas
those who are in favor of giving this question ! W. Lisle, Willis B. Machen, George W. Mans-
a fair test, will vote for a minimum salary. j field, Richard L. Mayes, Nathan McClure, Thom-

Mr. XESBITT. I presume that if the' power ! as P. Moore, JamesM. Nesbitt, Jonathan New-
is given to the legislature to reduce the sala- j cum, Henry B. Pollard, William Preston, John-
ries of the judges, when it shall be found neces- I son Price, John T. Robinson, Thomas Rock-
sary to increase the number, they will never ' hold, John T. Rogers, Ira Root. Ignatius A.
think proper to say they have too much work to : Spalding, James W. Stone, Michael L. Stoner,
do. Suppose the gentleman from Jefferson (Mr. i John D. Taylor, William R. Thompson, John
Meriwether,) should be elected judge under the; J. Thurman, Howard To



Online LibraryKentucky. Constitutional Convention (1849-1850)Report of the debates and proceedings of the Convention for the revision of the constitution of the state of Kentucky, 1849 [microform] → online text (page 176 of 294)