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Proceedings and Debates of the 1864 Constitutional Convention
Volume 102, Volume 1, Debates 1614   View pdf image (33K)
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business of the superior court and put it into
the court of common pleas, in addition to
what they have now, and to leave the other
half in the superior court. The practical
effect of that is going to be to arrange the
business much worse than before. But I do
not propose to argue it. I am opposed to the
system, and this will only aggravate it. I
hope my amendment will prevail to retain
the jurisdiction of the superior court where
it is.
The amendment was rejected.
Mr. STOCKBRIDGE. I have another amend-
ment, the purpose of which is to make a little
more clear and distinct the line of demarca-
tion between the superior court and the court
of common pleas. I move to insert in the
second line, after the word "claimed," the
words "exclusive of interest,"
Mr. STIRLING. That is all right.
Mr. STOCKBRIDGE. There is often a matter
of doubt as to which court a' suit shall be
brought in. This will make it more clear.
The amendment was agreed to. .
Mr, STOCKBRIDGE, I wish to ask a ques-
tion. These gentlemen are making an effort
to harmonize and systematize things. There
is a class of cases most anomalously assigned
heretofore to the criminal court of Baltimore
city; and I should like to understand whether
it is proposed to retain them there or to give
jurisdiction over them to the superior court
or the court of common pleas. It has always
seemed to me that it really belonged to the
superior court; but before the amendment is
acted upon, I thought it would be well to
call attention to it. I refer to the class of
cases in the criminal court with reference to
opening streets, and things of that sort in the
city of Baltimore. The amounts involved
are large, and often take up a great deal of
the time of the court, causing juries to be
delayed there sometimes two to four weeks.
Hundreds of thousands of dollars are in-
volved; and these cases are in no way con-
nected with the criminal jurisdiction of the
city. it has always belonged to one of the
civil courts, but it never has been there. I
wish to know whether it is proposed to take
that there, or to leave it where it is.
Mr. STIRLING. I have no objection to that
proposition, if the gentleman thinks it neces-
sary to make any change. What my col league
says is correct. As we are relieving the su-
perior court somewhat, I have no objection
to taking the street cases and putting them
into the superior court. The only reason
why it did not suggest itself to me to change
it, is that it has been in the criminal court so
long, and the records are all there; and it
does not take up a great deal of time. But it
is a jurisdiction which is not properly in the
criminal court system. It is a civil jurisdic-
tion. As we are relieving the docket of the
superior court I have no objection to transfer
it to that.
Mr. ABBOTT. I hope that at the proper
time that will be done.
Mr. STOCKBRIDGE. Under the old constitu-
tion there was a good reason for placing it
where it is. It was then not a criminal court
merely, but the city court, to attend to what
was properly city business. «When Baltimore
city was a part of Baltimore county,
the civil business not belonging to the county
was thrown into the city court. It was then
perfectly proper; but that reason has long
gone by; and it is certainly desirable to re-
move it now.
The PRESIDENT. Gentlemen are reminded
that they are debating an abstract proposition
and not an amendment before the convention.
Mr. STIRLING. I will move to amend the
amendment by inserting next before the pro-
viso accepted by my colleague, the words
" and shall also have jurisdiction in all cases
of appeals from the commissioner for opening
Mr. DANIEL. I will accept that.
Mr. STOCKBRIDGE. I now move to strike
out the clause, "as a court of equity within
the limits of the said city, and." My reason
for moving that is, that we have one court
charged with nothing else, that does nothing
else, that is purely a chancery court. There
is no special reason that I can see, if we are
to divide things by subjects, why the two
should he united in this court more than in
the criminal court or the court of common
pleas The rules and regulations which pre-
vail in this court are such that it is a final
burying up of things when they once get
into chancery there, and passing them over
to our children and great grand children, 1
hope the amendment will prevail.
Mr. DANIEL. I want gentlemen to under-
stand that in doing this we are altering the
jurisdiction of the superior court as it now
stands. 'This is copied exactly from the con-
stitution. Ever since the organization of
that court it has had equity jurisdiction.
Ever since the organization of the circuit
court they have bad concurrent jurisdiction
in all equity matters. Suitors frequently find
it convenient to exercise a choice between
these courts; and I think it would be a very
radical change to take away that choice,
and that portion of equity business, a large
amount of which is already pending in the
superior court of Baltimore city. I think
therefore that the change is sufficient which
we have thus far made, in which we have
taken away from the superior court $500 of
its jurisdiction, which my colleague the chair-
man of the committee has stated to the house
constitutes four-fifths of the jurisdiction, in
which I differ with him except as to the
amount of civil business; but if it includes
in the equity business the lien business, and
the replevin business over which the court of
common pleas has no jurisdiction, I do not
think we have transferred anything like that

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Proceedings and Debates of the 1864 Constitutional Convention
Volume 102, Volume 1, Debates 1614   View pdf image (33K)
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