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that it would make competent attorneys less likely to take up matters for poor litigants because they cannot be sure that their services will be paid according to their own ideas of their value?
Alfred Hayes, Jr., of Ithaca:
Mr. President, I trust that the substitute will go through. If I apprehend the significance of Mr. Leavitt's motion, it applies to all legal contracts, all contracts between attorney and client without reference to the contract being on a contingency, and it seems to me it is not consonant with general business principles. Certainly, many of us, if we were dealing with any other professional man or any mechanic, might at times want to know what it was going to cost. If we wanted to get rid of a certain lien on real property we might say, how much will this cost? It seems to me it is not objectionable to permit bargaining between attorney and client in certain cases, and the resolution is too sweeping in precluding that possibility and permitting only persons who have no means to bargain.
Michael Schaap, of New York:
Mr. President, I think it is an unreasonable attack to make upon the Bar to say that those members of the Bar who take cases on contingent fees are more dissatisfied with the rulings of the Court where they are adverse in contingent cases than in other cases. They have the remedy that was given them by Judge Grover, the privilege of going around the corner and swearing at the Court. That is bound to happen. That is human nature and it is just as true in any other case as in the case of contingent fees. I do not believe that any member of the Bar, when the Court decides against him in a case
where there is a contingent fee, feels there is any personal element in it. I doubt whether the right to make a contingent fee should be limited, should be kept strictly apart from the question whether the contingent fee has any debasing effect upon the relation between the Bar and the Bench. I think the amendment to the resolution is wholly good. I do not believe that any lawyer would object to having the amount of his contingent fee reviewed by the Court after the matter is closed, and having in mind at all times what were the circumstances at the time the contract was made.
Regard for the cherished traditions of the Bar of this State leads the Chair to observe that Judge Grover said that the lawyer went not merely around the corner, but down to the tavern to swear. (Laughter.)
William J. Welsh, of Binghamton:
Mr. President, no lawyer need fear the supervision of the Court over a contingent fee contest. The Courts are fair and liberal with it and that is all that is necessary in order to protect the client. If he has courage enough to leave his contract to the supervision of the Court before whom the case is tried, that Court will be abundantly able to take care of it without any question, and that leaves out all question about yearly compensation.
George B. Curtiss, of Binghamton:
Mr. President, it occurs to me that both of these resolutions are unsound. I do not believe the Association should declare that a person of means, a person who has property, shall not be permitted to make an arrangement with his attorney when he employs him so that he will know about what it is going to cost him when he gets through. Men
like to know where they are coming out if they can when they go into a litigation, and they do not like to have it left, when they get through, to the opinion of lawyers who come in and fix a large value on the services of their attorney. They would rather do that themselves. They are capable of doing it. They are responsible, they are intelligent people. I think that all contingent agreements made between attorney and client should be under the supervision of the Court, and if an agreement is, under the circumstances, an unconscionable agreement, if it is obtained by unfairness or misrepresentation, I think it should be subject to the Supreme Court. From the conditions which have increased the number of cases taken by attorneys growing out of accidents, of course it is necessary that the poor people who are injured should be able to contract with their attorney and pay him out of the amount recovered. If I understand the resolution correctly it makes an agreement of that sort stand upon the same footing as any other agreement made between the parties. I think that that sort of agreement, while it should be permitted to be made, should be subject to the supervision of the Court as to its fairness.
Are you ready for the question on the substitute offered by Mr. Jessup?
The substitute was then submitted to vote and adopted. The President:
The next order of business is the report of the Special Committee on Salaries of Federal Judges.
Everett P. Wheeler, of New York, presented the report of the committee as follows:
REPORT OF SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON SALARIES OF FEDERAL JUDGES
To the New York State Bar Association:
At the time of the report of this Committee to the Association in January, 1911, the situation was that a bill was pending in the House of Representatives which had been introduced by Mr. Moon of Pennsylvania, increasing the salaries of the Judges as follows:
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to $18,000 a year;
Each of the Associate Justices thereof to $17,500 a year; Each of the Circuit Judges to $10,000 a year;
Each of the District Judges to $9,000 a year.
A hearing was had before the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives on the 6th of April, 1910, at which the Chairman of your Committee appeared, together with numerous other members of the Bar from various parts of the country, and made arguments in support of the Bill. The Moon Bill was afterwards favorably reported by the House Judiciary Committee, but with a reduction of $1,500 each from the proposed salaries for Circuit or District Judges. The Bill, however, failed of passage.
On March 3, 1911, Congress adopted the new Federal Judicial Code, and by this Code the salaries of the various Judges were fixed as follows:
The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of
It will thus be seen that by this new Federal Judicial Code, adopted in 1911, the salaries of the Circuit Judges and the District Judges have been fixed at the present rates.
There was extended debate in the House of Representatives upon a motion to amend this Code so as to increase the salaries, and the motion to amend was defeated by a decisive vote.
The result has been very discouraging to your Committee, who are satisfied that the present salaries are grossly inadequate. Your Committee cannot but feel, however, that further efforts ought to be made to obtain an increase of the salaries of the Federal Judges. This Association is fully committed to the proposition that such increase is called for by every consideration of fairness and justice. Your Committee, however, feel that they have performed all the services of which they are capable in this direction, and that they are entitled to be discharged, and to have another Committee appointed to carry on the work.
All of which is respectfully submitted.
Dated, January 4, 1912.
Mr. President, may I interrupt a moment? We passed the resolution on contingent fees, as amended, the amendment was adopted, but the resolution as amended was not adopted. Unless a vote is taken on that we will not get anywhere.