Century Chest transcription 20
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Aug. 3, 1901
He whose curious eye at the beginning of the 21st century shall first read this letter will perhaps experience a peculiar sensation as the recipient of a partly personal message from a voice long silent and a hand that it is no more. I assure you it is a trifle eyrie [sic] to write a letter which you know will be read, if used at all, by people to whom you have ceased to be even a memory and to whom your whole life and surroundings are only the subject of antiquarian research.
To you therefore, - child of a later time whomever you may be, I tender my greetings and best wishes and reaching out over the intervening century is spirit I grasp you by the hand. Whoever you are pray do not in the fluster of your brilliant questions, forget what in our day is a well worn maxim, namely that the best way to judge of the future is from the past.
That you may have a little more accurate data for such studies let me tell you a little about the legal profession of this day on the bench and at the bar as I have seen it in Colorado Springs and elsewhere in the world: for be it known that today Colorado is considered by the inhabitants of the Atlantic sealand and even the Mississippi valley as very far west.
First of all the judiciary. I have seen much of bench in a comparatively short professional career both in the east and west in Colorado, Idaho, Arizona, Utah and many eastern places. Let me tell you my precursor at the bar after so long an interval that much of what you are enjoying, you owe to the judges who preceded you and who more than any other class of men have laid a fine foundation for National growth, whatever form that growth may take. They are not as a rule our average lawyers but there are brilliant exceptions (I am speaking locally now) and they are deserving of much credit. Although many times I have seen men of slender means and great ambitions trying cases when the value of the interests at state exceeded many times the yearly salary of the judge and often the measure of what he could expect to receive as compensation for his official duties in a long judicial career, not once have I seen an indication of corruption, on the other hand many time have I seen judges firmly following what they believed to be right to their own heart.
You may perhaps, from the higher ethical plain on which I trust that its people of the 21st century will stand, think it peculiar that this fact should be thought worthy of mention, any more than any other fulfillment of a plain duty, but in our day such conduct does merit command and recognition.
I think I speak for the vast majority of the members of our profession in condemning an election judiciary. This is undeniably the result of the ultra-democratic hindrance [?] ( I use the word in no political sense) which marked our handling of public affairs in this country in the years from 1825 to 1860 during which time the great states of the middle west and the Allegheny region were admitted into the Union and during which time also most of the older states changed their constitutions. The result of this policy undoubtedly is a town the standing of the judicial affairs particularly in the lower courts. The utterly inadequate salaries paid ranging from about three thousand dollars to seven thousand dollars per year also works powerfully in the same direction. Under activated either by great ambition and in the hope of further advancement, or else he be seeking partial leisure for study or other pursuits, there is very little now to induce a man of first rate ability to accept a position on the bench.
The income of a man who is sufficiently able to properly sit as a judge either on the District or Appellate bench is usually I think, two or three times what he would receive even as a Supreme Court judge. However there is something about the office and the esteem in which it is held which is very attractive to the profession and which brings out the best in a man, and many men of mediocre ability have by scrupulous fairness and great industry filled this official position with credit to themselves and to the advantage of the community. I wish therefore to give a very willing tribute as a contemporary to the worth and efficiency, not of our judicial system but of our individual judges.
The office should be separated as far as possible from any political surroundings and should carry with it such a salary as would warrant men of the higher ability in occupying it. Most important of all the term should be sufficiently long to remove from the occupant all fear for his tenure - either for life or a long period of year.
The jury system as now administered is a failure. You of the 21st century I trust, will be interested in it only as a legal curiosity of by-gone days. A legacy of Anglo-Saxon law, we still call it in or jury speeches the Palladium of our liberties and the "most priceless heritage from our fathers" but - I blush to confess it, we don't believe at all.
A system whose main features should be trail of both law and fact by visi-prius [?] judges sitting in banc [?] with proper provisions for review and appeal would be far superior. In my judgment also such a system would remove two of the greatest stigmas from the administration of the law, namely its delays and uncertainty.
Perhaps the most interesting development of the last quarter of the 19th century so far as the profession is concerned, is the great change in the work of the lawyers. The advocate, pure and simple is rapidly passing away. He has given place to the business lawyers. We of the profession resent somewhat the expression the "law business" but there is reason for it and it marks a change.
Forensic effort is of little use today and as a direct mould on public opinion the lawyer has in lay measure given place to the editor. On the other hand as a constructive force in the community in the building up of enterprises, and as a force in resenting dangerous innovations, with his deep seated respect for law order and precedent his function was it seems to me never so important.
Organization and concentration as the order of the day and the same changes which are revolutionizing the business world are effecting our profession. The 'counsellor' part of our work is increasing the "attorney's" field is narrowing.
The ethics of the profession and the lawyers regard of for moral questions is a subject much discussed. This is in part a legacy of the past. Frequent attempted jokes like the following illustrate the point "an attorney named Strange directed that the following inscription be placed on his tombstone: "Here lies an honest lawyer" and gave as an explanation that everyone then would say that's strange'." All this we think unjust. Personally I believe the feeling which once did exist was due to the perhaps not unnatural disappointment of unsuccessful litigants, the unthinking attorney whom was only too apt to blame their lawyers. In reality I believe the standard of professional ethics is rising and rising rapidly with increasing degree of professional filters [?] required by our environments as one of the conditions of success. Bar associations everywhere exist which deal most surely with professional lepos [?] and comparatively lay mention of disbarment [?] proceedings which the 21st century reader will find among the law reports of today is due more to increasing scrutiny of professional conduct than to increasing looseness in professional morality.
In the city today there are about 115 lawyers the population of this vicinity is about 30,000. This number will I think appear excessive to readers. As civilization advances there should be less work in volume for lawyers to do but this work will probably be more important in character. Far more of you writing [?] will probably suffice for such a community as this.
There are inequalities at the bar. This community is largely interested in working [?] near by and a large part of the business comes from that source.
The loading office arranged alphabetically are as follows
H. W. Blackum [?]
Samuel [?] Cliner[?] & Miller
Hall Bobbite [?] & Thayer
Lunt [?] Brooks & Willcox
McAllister & Gaudy [?]
Of one of these firms I am a member but I should do an injustice to my partners if I omitted them. To other firms are entrusted the interests of the banks the railway companies and the larger industrial enterprises which make up all business life and doubtless 80% of the legal work of the city is done by them. This is at all a reflection on the ability of many others. Chance is a very potent factor in the affairs of today and these men for one reason or another simply have not gotten large clientage.
The undoubted leaders of the bar among us are Horace G. Lunt [?] & Allen T. Gurnall [?]. Their success is merited result of constant and faithful devotion to their clients interest absolute integrity, good training and a large measure of ability.
You of the 21st century will find no finer guidance [?] than these. In closing what is at best an imperfect sketch and only the individual views of our members of the profession I cannot forbear expressing a feeling of envy when I think [?] of the heritage of you the "heirs of all ages." And I only beg that in your happiness you will recall that many of your predecessors worked long and arduously that you might enjoy it and none more than the members of legal fraternity.
Franklin E. Brooks
They say that the universal use of stereographs has [illegible] of the 19th century. I fancy you will believe it.
I am sorry for the man who has to decipher this.
Franklin E. Brooks
Born Nov. 19th 1860 in Sturbridge Massachusetts Graduated at Brown University June 1883. Enjoyed the ordinary advantages of a New England boy born in comfortable circumstances without wealth. Financial losses to my father before completion of my education put us in a position of extraordinary difficulty.
For this year after leaving college I taught School. Ending in the Boston Latin School.
This in 1888 I was admitted to the Boston Bar.
My health soon failed me completely and in 1891 I came to Colorado for pulmonary tuberculosis a disease which I trust will be unknown in the 21st Century.
I married the day I left New England Sara Brainard [?] Coolidge to whom very much of the little degree of success I have obtained is due. My only must [?] is that I have worked.
Franklin E. Brooks
In the year of our Lord 1861, the chiefs and medicine men who had for centuries parceled out justice to their tribes, and the miners' courts that had summarily determined the rights of the early settlers, were supplanted in the newly organized territory of Colorado by a supreme court, constituted by act of congress, and consisting of three justices, who, with their other duties, held district court in the three districts into which the territory was divided. Further provision was made for probate and justice courts for the various counties. The boundaries of El Paso County were fixed in 1861, and during the early seventies, the Honorable Moses Hallett, now United States District Judge for Colorado, held district court in Colorado Springs by virtue of his appointment to the territorial court. Judge Hallett during this time rendered his decision in favor of the plaintiff in the case of the City of Colorado Springs v. Cowell, in which he upheld the validity of the clause contained in Colorado Springs warranty deeds declaring the forfeiture of land by any owner disposing of intoxicating liquor thereon. This decision was afterwards sustained by the Supreme Court of the United States.
At this time the district court was held in Colorado Springs in a structure known as the "Foote Building," at the southwest corner of Cascade Avenue and Huerfano Street. It was removed about 1875 to the second floor of the building now situated on the northeast corner of Tejon Street and Pike's Peak Avenue, whence it was again removed in 1877 to the frame portion of the present court house. It is hoped that the court house now building in Alamo Square will afford the courts a permanent abiding place in the twenty-first century.
Upon the organization of Colorado as a State in 1876, the selection of judges devolved upon the voters, and the first judge elected to the district bench was John W. Henry, who held office from 1876 to 1879. The succeeding judges, with the dates of their terms were as follows:
Thomas M. Bowen 1879-1880
Thomas A. McMorris 1880-1881
Joseph C. Helm 1881-1883
William Harrison 1883-1889
John Campbell 1889-1895
Ira Harris 1895-1901
In 1895 by legislative enactment the number of district judges was increased to two, and Horace G. Lunt was appointed by the Governor, was elected at the next general election and held office for four years, until his resignation, when Edward C. Stimson was appointed by the Governor as his successor and held office until 1901. The present district judges are Lewis W. Cunningham and W.P. Seeds.
In addition to the district court, a county court has been constituted with general jurisdiction in probate matters, and alimited [sic] jurisdiction in civil and criminal suits. Within a still more limited jurisdiction come the courts of justices of the peace.
The formalities attending the sessions of district and county courts are of the slightest. Neither judges, officers of the court nor attorneys wear any distinguishing costume. Court is opened and closed with a simple announcement by the sheriff, while the judge and attorneys stand. The dignity of the court finds its sufficient protection in the respect inborn in American citizens for the judiciary they themselves select. This, too, notwithstanding the fact that judges are frequently taken from what are known as the lower walks of life, the present district judge sitting in El Paso County having been until a few years an express messenger, whose sturdy persistence and energy have raised him to the bench.
A question upon which the bar in this county is about evenly divided is that of the sufficiency of judges' salaries. The judges of the territorial court received $2500. a year, while now the district judges receive $4000. To many lawyers this latter sum seems ample; others insist that men of ability cannot accept the position at the sacrifice of the larger earnings of active practice, and still others would have the salary a merely nominal one, leaving the bench to be reached only by men of preeminent talents, whose private fortunes make them independent and free to accept purely honorary public service. This question, doubtless, together with others like the modification of the jury system and an appointive judiciary, that today perplex the bar, will be satisfactorily settled within the coming century now begun.
Turning to a consideration of the bar of El Paso County, it is probably that until 1892-3 when the Cripple Creek Mining District was discovered, the number of lawyers in the county did not exceed twenty-five, but with the discovery and development of that gold field, attorneys came flocking from all corners of the country. At this time the members of the bar resident and practicing in Colorado Springs number about 110. Of this number about one-half received their professional education in law schools, while the remaining half read law in offices here and there through the country. Many of the successful attorneys practicing here came in search of health, and others were attracted by the opportunities afforded by a new country rich in natural resources. A few only of the younger lawyers were born in Colorado, and a considerable number have practiced in two or more states before coming to Colorado, which would seem to indicate a slight nomadic strain in those who follow the law.
To the federal government, the Supreme Court of the State and to the legal profession at large, the bench and bar of El Paso County have made distinguished contribution. Hon. Moses Hallett, mentioned before in connection with the territorial courts, has presided continuously as judge of the United States District Court for Colorado since Colorado's birth as a state. Thomas M. Bowen, district judge from 1879 to 1880, has represented Colorado in the Senate of the United States. To the Supreme Court of the State, El Paso County has furnished two justices, Joseph C. Helm, Chief Justice from 1888 to 1892 and John Campbell, who now presides over the deliberation of the Court. Albert E. Pattison was a member of the Supreme Court Commission and William Harrison, district judge from 1883 to 1889, was recognized throughout the state by the profession as a jurist of preeminent ability.
The Colorado Springs bar also presents examples of attorneys who have been quick to take advantage of the tendency of the time for lawyers to take a more active and intimate part in affairs generally, and especially in the great combinations that are the most striking feature of the business world at the beginning of the twentieth century. The practice of these men taken them to banks and counting rooms rather than to the courts, and oratory and the persuasive art of the old-school lawyer are becoming lost to an ever-increasing proportion of the profession.
Of the younger members of the bar in El Paso County, whose careers bid fair to lead them to heights above their fellows, and whose names may well live beyond the dawn of the twenty-first century are Kurnal R. Babbitt and Henry McAllister, Junior.
Prophecy, however, can be of little interest to those who live when the prophecy shall be fulfilled or disproven, and accordingly only the foregoing fragmentary facts regarding the bench and bar or El Paso County are submitted for the consideration of the Antiquarian of the twenty-first century.
Henry C. Hall
August 3rd, 1901
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