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to criticize, perhaps too severely, and some of these rules may be very unsatisfactory to some of us as we first read them, but I beg to call your attention to the fact that the Supreme Court has carefully gone over the rules of practice in a great many other States, and I am sure you will find, after careful examination, that these rules are eminently wise. They are not revolutionary in any sense; there has no attempt been made to destroy the code or to add to the code to such an extent that it would do no good, but these are simply rules of practice which will expedite the work of the lawyer and expedite the decision of cases in the higher court.
I again ask that hefore criticism is made we carefully read these rules and see the object and purpose of each one. (Applause.)
As germane to the report of the committee which has just been read, I have a letter from the Secretary of the Judiciary Committee of the Denver Bar Association, which, perhaps, may be included in such discussion as may be had.
(For the letter, see the Appendix.)
This whole matter is now open for discussion.
George F. Dunklee:
I have been asked by the chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the Denver Bar Association to say a few words upon this matter, and upon accepting the invitation I want to assure you that I have no special interest in this matter aside from that which is common to other members of the legal profession. As an expresident of the Denver Bar Association and as a man who has taken considerable interest for a number of years in bar associations, both locally and in the state, I always watch the proceedings of the Association with an idea of seeing what is being done for the profession of which I am so proud to have been a member for so long.
I take it that a license to practice law issued by our Supreme Court is only valuable because it enables the proud possessor of that license to do certain things that others can not do, if he has the ability as well as the license.
The more things the holder of the license may do the more valuable is the license, and the more lucrative is the profession and its practice. As you commence to eliminate and cut out the powers of the holder of the license you reduce him to the ranks of the common people, who do not have that special privilege.
I think our profession has been derelict in the past in not watching more closely the legislation which has hemmed us about.
When I first entered the legal profession it was the common practice to appoint attorneys as administrators of estates, guard ians, and receivers, and the revenues that were received for that work were of great value to the profession, and in my humble judgment that work was done by high class attorneys, who performed it with much integrity and ability. Now, this is performed by corporations, who by statutes that have been enacted are allowed to perform this work. Their agents are continually on the watch to obtain those positions for themselves. Can we point with any pride to the success that has come about by this change?
If any of you are so fortunate as to wish to open a bank account, or one of your clients should do so, in one of the numerous trust companies, the obliging clerk who takes your deposit and passes you out a little book will also pass you out one of these yellow covered books, informing you that that trust institution (and there are many of them in Denver) engages in the drawing of wills and that if you would like to have your will drawn by them, and will name them as executor of the estate, they will perform the service free.
I might go on further and show you how we, as attorneys, have stood quietly by and seen the most lucrative and the most honorable part of our profession taken away and passed over to corporations, and corporations expressly incorporated with the idea
of making money out of that work, which ought to be performed by the legal profession.
I want to say that I yield to no man in my respect for the courts or in the motives of those who promulgated this rule governing the issue of summons. This rule is not a life-and-death proposition to the legal profession. You can get along with many things eliminated. But I can see that it is lopping off and curtailing one power, and that one power is a power that is of value. to the profession, and the profession is weakened exactly so much.
I was present at the meeting of the Denver Bar Association, where there was congregated a large number of representative attorneys, and there was not a single practicing attorney present who approved the rule as adopted by the Supreme Court.
It was said by one member of this Association who had taken the matter up with the Supreme Court that the power to issue summons had fallen into unworthy hands, in certain collection agencies, and otherwise, and was the subject, or had been the subject of abuse. If that is so, I want to say that I personally have never heard of that criticism before. If it is true that such power is being abused, or has been abused, then that abuse should be stopped. There is a way to stop it, by disbarment proceedings, fines, or other drastic measures, which would prevent such abuses as disgrace the legal profession or amount to a miscarriage of justice or create a hardship on the community itself, and we who would favor the old rule as against the one suggested, would stand heartily for such a change of these rules as would give the legal profession the right to issue summons when occasion may require, but hedged about by such safeguards as would absolutely prevent its being used in an improper way, and would lead to the disbarment, fine, or other punishment of any attorney who would lend his name for or misuse his right in a way that would bring disgrace to the legal profession.
Now a few reasons why it is a hardship to the legal profession to adopt such a rule as is here set out. In the first place, I want
to say a word for the outside attorney. I never expect to practice law in any place except in Denver, which has its clerk's office, of course, in my home town.
But in going over the State of Colorado I calculate there are about one hundred towns and cities of considerable size, which support one or more attorneys, that are distant from a county-seat. Take Idaho Springs, where there are several attorneys; this place is quite a distance from Georgetown, the county-seat, and during all the year except the summer months, the train from Georgetown for Idaho Springs leaves in the morning before the courts open, and consequently there is no way to get from Idaho Springs to Georgetown by train, and you can not reach there by mail so as to do any business with the courts without taking about three days to transact the business.
Take Florence, in Fremont County; take Brush, Loveland or Longmont, for example; each of those places has a number of practicing attorneys living there, who will be unable to issue a summons until he gets in touch with the clerk's office of the District Court, or with the clerk of the County Court. Any of us can see that an attorney practicing in one of those places is at a great disadvantage.
Take Kiowa, the county-seat of Elbert County; there is only one train a day from Denver for that place, which goes down in the morning and comes back at night; when you get to Elizabeth you have to take the stage and ride several miles, and when you get there you may find that the clerk of the court is a cowboy or a ranchman, who perhaps has not been in his office, and would not be there for several days.
The same condition obtains in many other places.
Under the present system, if it is desirable to commence a case there you can prepare your complaint and your summons and have them served and send them to the clerk with the docket fee, and everything is done. Under this new rule you can easily see the delay, embarrassment and difficulty of proceeding.
I think that is enough as to that part of the proposition. Take it in Denver; there might be a case that would come up, say on a Saturday afternoon, where it was desirable to commence suit right away. It might be that the defendant was leaving the State or the jurisdiction of the court. The clerk's office is closed, the next day will be Sunday, you can not do anything until the complaint is prepared, and if it is anything except a standard complaint, which is easily gotten up, if it is anything complicated it can not be hastily prepared, but until it is prepared and lodged in the clerk's office, and the summons issued in the regular way, you can not get your summons, and if you can not get your summons you can not get service, and you can see the hardship that might arise under such circumstances.
I believe that I can truthfully say that in my practice of twenty-five years I have not issued twenty-five summonses from my office. We file the complaint and let the clerk issue the summons and put it in the hands of the sheriff. Nine-tenths or more of all litigation is handled in that way, and it is desirable to do that way.
But it is because of the extraordinary circumstances that arise in every active practitioner's experience that we ought not to be deprived of this privilege in order to be able to meet such emergencies as they arise.
There are many other reasons which could be mentioned, but I hope I am not the only one who is in favor of what I suggest. You need not change this rule on my account. I have gotten along very well up to this time, and believe I will be able to pull through as well as the rest of you. But in my judgment this is an important thing to the legal profession, and we should stand together for what is right.
I know that the Supreme Court judges, each and every one of them, respect honorable practicing attorneys, and they will respect their wishes in this matter, and if reasons which are good and valid can be given for retaining this right which we have