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The thirteenth annual meeting of the Bar Association of Arkansas was called to order by Judge E. A. McCulloch, Chairman of the Executive Committee, in the Jefferson County courthouse, at II a. m., June 1, 1910.
Invocation was offered by Rev. J. I. Norris.
Mr. Sam M. Taylor of Pine Bluff was introduced, and delivered the address of welcome, which was responded to by Judge Charles Coffin of Batesville, Ark.
Judge McCulloch then introduced the president, Hon. N. W. Norton of Forrest City, who delivered the annual address on "Initiative and Referendum.” (See appendix, page 55.)
The meeting adjourned until 2 p. m.
AFTERNOON SESSION—FIRST DAY.
The meeting was called to order by the president. The Executive Committee submitted the names of the following lawyers who had applied for membership, and had been recommended by them. Upon motion they were duly elected members.
CHARLES COFFIN, Batesville
It was suggested that one member of the Committee on Nominations was absent and that another member was compelled to return home, and that the committee desired to meet. Thereupon the president appointed Mr. W. F. Coleman to fill the vacancy.
Mr. Harry Trieber was introduced by the president, and read a paper on “Assignments of Future Wages as Against Public Policy.” (See appendix, page 72.)
The president introduced Mr. Henry Berger of Malvern, who had prepared a paper on "Extra-Territorial Effect of Decree for Divorce on Constructive Service." Upon request of Mr. Berger, the paper was read by Mr. W. B. Smith. (See appendix, page 78.)
Mr. T. M. Mehaffy stated that he was the only member present of the Committee on Public Service Corporations, but that he had a report prepared by the chairman of the committee, Judge Joseph M. Hill, which had been approved by the committee. He read the report as follows:
PUBLIC SERVICE CORPORATIONS
To the President and Members of the Association:
This is pre-eminently a day of the regulation of public service corporations, and whether regulation be right or whether it be wrong, it has come to stay, and it is a condition and not a theory which confronts public service corporations.
The great fault of regulation is the blindness of it. We have a striking instance of it in the pending railroad rate litigation. The railroad freight rates were put in force about ten years ago experimentally, and the State had no means of ascertaining whether the experiment was operating justly or unjustly upon the railroads, and the railroads refrained from giving any evidence on the subject until they brought a suit to enjoin the whole rate fabric.
The Legislature of 1907 regulated the passenger rates without data to determine the justice or the injustice of it, and the State is now engaged in extremely expensive litigation to defend its regulation. Had the data been gathered in advance of the regulation, the regulation could have been made without the attendant expense which has followed it.
The fault is not primarily with the State, and it cannot be seen where the State has been subject to criticism or attack for this regulation, because it had only general conditions upon which to move and they, on their face, justified the action. When the freight rates were regulated, an intolerable system of discrimination, rebating and favoritism was in force, and that system necessarily called for regulation, and it was done in the only way that it could be done, by putting in a freight tariff experimentally.
When the passenger rates were regulated, it was a well known condition, that the increased efficiency of locomotives, the increased capacity of cars, improvements in roadbed and greater density of traffic rendered transportation cheaper than it had been when the three-cent rate was put into effect. Naturally, the public felt that it should have the benefit, in part, at least, of the economies which time had developed, and hence regulation was attempted. For the past year, the State has, at great expense, been delving into the affairs of the railroad companies to ascertain the actual condition of those companies, in order to determine whether or not its previous regulation was just or unjust; whether the previous regulation will be sustained is a matter yet to be determined in the courts, but that a proper basis will be established, even though at great expense, for future regulation, is a fact which must be admitted on all sides.
This matter has been taken as an illustration of the necessity of proper public regulation, which should be based on actual conditions existing in the public service corporations, and not on general principles or theoretical lines. In order to make regulation intelligent, the State should enact laws requiring all public service corporations to file, full and in detail, annual reports that will give all the data necessary for public regulation. Either the railroad commission or some other body should be clothed with full power of visitation, examination and investigation of all public servicc corporations. This work should have the end in view of obtaining the exact situation of each public service corporation in the State, so that the State or the municipality, as the case may be, would have the opportunity to properly regulate it without running into the danger of confiscating its property or any just return upon its property.
The cautious business man consults his counsel as to every important step which he takes in the conduct of his business. A few hundred dollars paid for advice in advance of action is much more wisely spent than many thousands of dollars to justify the action after it is taken, and this should be the principle upon which public regulation should rest. Comparatively small sums expended along the lines above indicated would enable the State or municipality to properly control and justly regulate public service corporations, and to make effective the regulations put in force, based upon intelligent data.
We iccommend that a committee be appointed to draft suitable legislation along the lines herein indicated, and that such committee take up with the Governor this subject, request him to present it to the General Assembly in his message, and that the committee be instructed to present the same to the proper committees of the two houses of the next General Assembly.
JOSEPH M. Hill, Chairman.
Upon motion of J. H. Harrod the report was adopted.
Mr. J. H. Harrod read the following resolution, which was adopted by unanimous rising vote:
WHEREAS, Hon. Burrill B. Battle, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, will soon complete the longest term of service in the history of the court, and
WHEREAS, he has served the State with such ability and fidelity that he deserves an expression of our appreciation,
THEREFORE, be it resolved by the Bar Association of Arkansas, that we congratulate Judge Battle upon the record he has made as a member of our highest court, and wish him health and happiness in his retirement.
J. H. HARROD.
The Committee on Uniform State Laws
Uniform State Laws reported as follows:
UNIFORM STATE LAWS.
To the President and Members of the Association :
Your Committee on Uniform State Laws would respectfully report, that, although this Association has at eight consecutive meetings recommended to the General Assembly the enactment of the Uniform Negotiable Instrument Law, and no action has ever been taken by that body on it, we deem the enactment of that statute of such vital importance to the growing commercial interests of the State that we again recommend that this Association act on it favorably.
We also recommend the enactment of the Uniform Sale and Warehouse Bills, prepared by the American Bar Association, as an act for the promotion and protection of the interests of the producers, commercial and banking interests.
JACOB TRIEBER, Chairman.
The report was adopted.