Page:The Green Bag (1889–1914), Volume 25.pdf/457

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What the Public Criticizes in the Bench and Bar1 By Judge William C. Hook UNITED STATES CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS, EIGHTH CIRCUIT SO MUCH of political and public policy is involved in the work of our courts that the most illogical man in the world is the judge who resents or is impatient of criticism or general dis approval of his judicial acts. He should welcome the outside view and take an inventory. Observe Plato who, when told that the boys in the streets laughed at his singing, replied: "Then I must learn to sing better." The next illogical man is the lawyer who inconsiderately aids and upholds the judge. The confi dence, respect and esteem of that great body of men from which the Bench is recruited should be earned with effort, not given lightly or perfunctorily. It is the duty of each to be helpfully correc tive of the other. It is but fair to say that some of the criticisms of the judi ciary are due to a misconception of their appropriate functions. In the army of progress they should not be scouts far in advance to explore the way, nor on the other hand should they ride in the rear with the sutlers to whom permanent rest is profit and enjoyment. But when ground is gained by the great body and occupied, there are law and order and the seats of justice. The complaints of the impatient and the tardy must be en dured. Demands will be made to which a judge must not yield; to others he should yield quickly. . . . I will set down some of the things that are said of us, not as my own, for I am ■Extract from Judge Hook's paper on "The Struggle for Simplification of Legal Procedure: Some Causes," read at Montreal before the Amer ican Bar Association.

in no position to say them. If greatly pressed I fancy I would have to plead guilty to some and would fear convic tion of others. They crowd the books, the periodicals and the newspapers of the day and are talked about in the common highways. In part, they relate to substantive law more than to proce dure, but all, whether true or overdrawn, are contributing causes of the movement to make the administration of the law more simple, direct and efficient. It is said : — That judges, and also lawyers though in less degree, lack human sympathy; that the substance of the human inter ests they deal with is subordinated to the abstractions they make of the prin ciples of the law; that they especially fail fully to comprehend the spirit of efforts for social and industrial better ment and when statutes come forth they are regarded as strange births, whose missions are not understood; and that they do not keep both hands warmed at the fire of life. That they are generally in opposition to progress and improvement. The Bench and the Bar are among the great conservative elements of the country. The influences of their calling make them so. Wisely ordered, conservatism in the sense of thoughtful carefulness is a virtue. It tempers undue speed, gives time for reflection and makes advance ment sound and enduring. But oppo sition to all change is an evil. It is a serious evil when it attempts to thwart or shunt change that has been legislative ly enacted; and that is sometimes done