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The Green Bag

household spell the name in these dif ferent ways) of Roxburghshire, Scotland, and came to this country, by way of Londonderry, Ireland (where they so journed a few months only), landing at the port of Philadelphia early in the year 1708. Their descendants took part in the Revolution, fighting for the liberty of the colonists. Mr. Kerr's father and his grandfather, Col. Josias Westlake, were prominent educators "for a great number of years, and were also leading farmer-folk. Mr. Kerr grew up on the farm; his life there was much the same as that of any other sturdy farmer-boy of the time; here he acquired a fine physical development and a store of nervous energy which has served him so well in later years, enabling him to work at his desk twelve to fourteen hours a day without undue fatigue. He was well grounded in the rudiments of an education at the dis trict school; attended the high school at Tippecanoe City, walking two miles and a half morning and evening from and to his home; and thereafter attended the National Normal University, at Lebanon, Ohio. The career and success of Mr. Kerr as a law-writer and author of well-known and highly-prized law books is a signal example of success achieved in the pro fession by one to whom the active practice — the actual trial of cases in court; the delay and necessary "waste of time" incident thereto — was dis tasteful in many respects. Being of studious habits and an acquisitive turn of mind he has devoted his life to the acquisition and mastery of the principles underlying the science of the law and to the systematization and elucidation thereof. Preferring fame to pelf, he early commenced to write on legal subjects, and by earnest application and tireless industry has climbed to the

vantage-ground of a mastery of the general science of the law and the deci sions of the courts. Being a "disciple of the D wight method," as contradistinguished from the modern "case method" followed at all the law schools, Mr. Kerr puts his reliance in fundamental principles of general application and not in "pre cedents" or cases applying to a given state of facts and of restricted applica tion only; in other words, he does not regard all "precedents" as good law, simply because a pronunciamiento of a judge from the bench, which may be weak or strong, cogent and correct, or violative of the fundamental principles by which the case is governed, according as the judge is well-read or otherwise, on the law, or the motif of the decision be upright, biased or otherwise in fluenced. A judge he regards as good as any other man, as long as he behaves himself as well, and fearlessly and honestly discharges his duty as he sees it, without fear or favor; but a judge on the bench is not different from or superior to or more learned than the same indi vidual at the bar; and the methods by which judges are selected, and the influences which have been and still do dictate in this matter, do not assure that the best men are always selected. A poor lawyer, or one otherwise un worthy, elevated to the bench never can become a learned and eminent judge, and his written opinions are to be respected and followed as precedents in so far and only in so far as they are based on sound reasoning and wellestablished principles of the law. In other words M r Kerr is not a respecter of "precedents" as such, merely because they are the deliverance of a judge from the bench. Mr. Kerr was called to the bar in Ohio in 1877, and thereafter was admitted to