« ZurückWeiter »
period which would reach beyond the term of a governor. The members should not be removable by the governor but instead I would have this board and its members subject to recall by direct vote of the people. The details of this recall I have not yet had time to study out. Some of you will, no doubt, immediately commence to take issue with me for you do not believe in recalls-neither do I as they have been presented in the past. To this board should be given authority to appoint all our Supreme and Superior Court judges who should serve until a fixed age period when they should be retired automatically. The board should have power to remove any judge for inefficiency, inattention to duty or for any cause for which impeachment would now lie. No other method of removal should be had and each judge should feel that he would be expected to sit as long as he merited the seat. If such a feeling prevailed, our best lawyers would, no doubt, deem it a great honor to be a judge of a court of record in Washington. No longer would the bench be a matter of politics—I say politics even though our judiciary is said to be non-partisan. Every two years there is a mad scramble in some part of the state for seats on the Superior bench wherein politics, not of the party type, but of a more insidious and vicious character, makes its appearance. Newspapers have, at times, dictated to the people their selections; churches, women's club, civic groups, labor unions and various kinds of associations and organizations have industriously played politics with, for and against the judicial candidates. No man of real timber for a judge enjoys submitting himself to such a kilkenny fight.
In King County, which is the largest in the state, we have nine Superior judges who handle their work under what is called the presiding judge system. Under this system, one of the judges is selected by the others, whose duty it is to assign cases to the other judges for trial. When a case is finished by a judge another is promptly given him. For instance, if one finishes a case at 11 in the morning, instead of that judge declaring a recess until afternoon he is promptly sent another case to which the hour before noon is devoted instead of lost. Prior to the adoption of this system much time was lost and no lawyer after noting a case for trial could tell within six months of when it would come on for trial and at the end of every spring term there would be several hundred cases which had been noted, but which would have to go over until fall without even being set for trial. Under the present system, which has been in use but a short time, and in spite of increasing litigation, every case noted for trial at the end of the last spring term was set for trial during the month of September. When an attorney now notes a case for trial he cannot lay it away to be tried months later, but he must commence at once to make his final preparations for trial.
To this board I would assign duties similar to the duties of a presiding judge. It would be required to see that all the courts of the state were at all times busily engaged in clearing their dockets. It should have the power to assign for a limited period any Superior judge to any Superior bench. Whenever a court would be found with any spare time, which often occurs in the country judicial districts, he should be sent to relieve congestion elsewhere. The board should have authority to appoint, when necessary, judges pro tempore and it should be its duty to draft and present to the Legislature bills embodying such changes in practice and procedure as its experience would show to be necessary or advisable.
I have provided for the removal of judges only by the board and some way must be found also for the removal of the board and its members. In fixing upon the recall as the proper method of removal I am actuated by the following reasons: Impeachment would be too slow and perhaps impossible of practical results. If the power of removal were given to the governor, opportunity would be given to play politics with the system and it would be too much power vested in one official. I have eliminated these two methods and nothing seems left but that of the recall. There is, however, another reason for it and that is, that its use or the opportunity to use it is the only direct way in which the voters would have to participate in someone's removal. They are entitled to some direct action by way of removal or appointment as to the judges or their sponsors. It is well known that the people have a greater delight in removing an officer than they take in electing him and this proposed change takes away from them the direct election of judges and while that opportunity would be missed it probably would not be considered much of a loss inasmuch as judges in Washington cannot now be recalled and the opportunity of cutting off the official heads of those charged with judicial appointments would be not at all a burden to the voter, but an added pleasure and more than compensate for the loss of the opportunity to elect the judges.
Such a change in our system would furnish a shortening of the ballot which is so much advocated. It would lessen the expense of the judicial machinery. It would furnish abler judges and speed up litigation and perhaps aid in clearing the atmosphere from the charges and condemnation which now surrounds the bench and bar.
REPORT OF COMMITTEE ON OBITUARIES.
Prepared by Hon. John Arthur.
WILLIAM M. RIDPATH. In Rochester, Minn., August 6th, 1914, Col. William M. Ridpath, a well-known and wealthy citizen of Spokane, died at the age of 69. He was a native of Putnam County, Indiana. He served in the Civil War and came to Spokane in 1888. During his first twelve years in that city he practiced law, and was appointed prosecuting attorney by Governor Miles C. Moore during territorial days. A large hotel in Spokane bears his name. He left three children, Mrs. John Ankeny, Dr. Paul C. Ridpath, a practicing physician in Chicago, and Miss Nellie Ridpath, who was studying in Europe for about three years preceding his death.
ALFRED L. PALMER, In Seattle, on August 20, 1914, Alfred Lee Palmer, one of the old and well-known residents of that city, departed this life. He was born in Mina, New York, in 1835, and came to Seattle thirty-three years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska. He engaged in the practice of law, but in later years devoted his whole time to real estate. He built up a large fortune. He is survived by five sons and two daughters.
A. H. FOOTE. In Seattle on September 19, 1914, Judge A. H. Foote, who had resided in that city since 1888, passed away. In Douglas County, Kansas, whence he came to Washington, he served two terms as judge of the probate court. He practiced law for a while in Seattle, but gradually retired and devoted his time to investments.
He was elected city treasurer of Seattle in 1898 and served until 1900. He was a Union soldier in the Civil war. He was born on his father's farm in Geauga County, Ohio, on December 24, 1838, and lived there until the age of 21, when he became a student of law at the Western Reserve Seminary, which study he followed up in Cleveland. In May, 1862, he enlisted in Company B, Eighty-seventh Ohio Infantry. In 1869 he removed to the state of Kansas and located in Lawrence, where he opened an office and practiced law. In 1879 he returned to West Farmington, Ohio, where he was married to Mary M. Weir. Of three children only one survives, Sherman W. Foote, who resides in Seattle.
C. W. NEAL. In Tacoma on September 22, 1914, C. W. Neal died at the age of 66. He had served in the Civil and Spanish-American Wars. He was born at Kittery, Maine, whence he removed to Iowa. In the year 1907 he came to Tacoma. He is survived by his widow and two sons, both of whom are lawyers, Frank C. Neal, of the firm of Davis & Neal, in Tacoma, and Mr. Fred W. Neal, of Bellingham.
GEORGE W. SAMPSON. In Seattle on November 8, 1914, George W. Sampson died. He had resided in that city for ten years, and had come there from Lexington, Massachusetts. He is survived by his wife, one son, George K. Sampson, 19 years old, and one daughter, Mrs. Grace M. McDermott, of Haines, Alaska.
MELVIN M. GODMAN. In Seattle, on November 9, Judge Melvin M. Godman, well known all over the state, and who had just resigned as chairman of the State Public Service Commission, passed away. He had but two months previously resigned that position. In accepting his resignation, Governor Lister said:
“It is with deep regret that I accept the resignation of Judge Godman, and it is now accepted only for the reason that I feel his health is such it is necessary for him to take an absolute rest. He leaves his position with the hope in the heart of all with whom he has been associated that his recovery may be speedy. I personally feel in his withdrawal from the Public Service Commission the state is losing the services of one of its strongest and most able officials.”
Judge Godman served a term as judge of the Superior Court of Columbia County. He also served as a member of the Alaska-YukonPacific Exposition Commission. He was born in Marion County, Missouri, January 1, 1856. In 1870 he removed to California, where he was graduated from the Pacific Methodist College in 1877, and was admitted to the bar in 1880. He established himself in practice in that state. He removed to Washington and located at Dayton in Columbia County, where he lived for twenty-six years and reared a family. In 1907 he removed to Seattle and entered upon the practice of law in that city, at which he continued until his removal to Olympia as a member of the Board of Public Service Commission.
He was active in democratic politics and was highly esteemed throughout the commonwealth. He is survived by his wife and two sons, Donald Godman and Melvin M. Godman, Jr.
RICHARD VERNON WILLIAMS. In Puyallup on November 14, 1914, Richard Vernon Williams, a resident of that city for seven years, died. He was a native of Ken