« AnteriorContinuar »
they will occur until we make some provision that past twenty years. I submit this is a perfect the burden of these prosecutions shall rest upon answer. The truth undoubtedly is, that the Exsomebody besides the citizens of the county of ecutive has not removed these district attorneys, Albany.
because there has been no necessity for it. I do Mr. VEEDER—With the permission of the not desire to make any reply to this billingsgate committeo, I will withdraw the amendment I which has been so generously indulged in by the offered and offer another amendment it its stead. gentleman from Westchester (Mr. Greeley), in his
The SECRETARY proceeded to read the opposition to my amendment. I do not represent amendment as follows:
that class of the community of which he speaks, After the words "county clerk," " district and which he pretends this amendment of mine attorney, a register and clerk in the city and will benefit. I never have allowed myself to use county of New York, a register in the county of such language, and I do not propose to answer it. Kings."
If it suits the taste of the gentleman from WestMr. VEEDER—I desire to explain my object chester I am not disposed to disturb his pleasure. in withdrawing my former amendment and offer. Mr. GARVIN — The gentleman from Kings ing this amendment. It is at the suggestion of [Mr. Veeder] in proposing his amendmeut, several gentlemen who are disposed to be favor. plirased it in a different form from that used in able to having a county supervisor. I wish to the present Constitution. In the present Consti. leave that question open for the present, and who tution the words are "register and clerk of the ever may be opposed to the provision for the city and county of New York.” I propose that election of a county supervisor will have the the word "city" be stricken out. opportunity afterward to vote on the amendment Mr. VEEDER-I am willing to modify my of the gentleman from Westchester (Mr. Greeley]. amendment in that way. The committee in their discussions have carried Mr. BARKER-I ask that the question be dithis subject directly to the question of the election vided. or appointment of district attorneys, and my Mr. GREELEY-Allow me simply to state my amendment comes right to the point of the elec. position in a few words. I say what no man here tion or appointment of district attorneys. And I will deny, that there is a largo class in our great desire, therefore, to submit a provision now which cities, but especially in the great city, commonly will meet the question directly. The committee known as the "criminal population"-otherwise will also observe that I have made provision for known as the “ dangerous classes." That class, election of the register of the city and county of in the city of New York, controls some thousands New York, and for the election of the register of votes. I assert that this class bas a distinct of the county of Kings. I wish to say just this interest of its own, and a perfect comprehension word in regard to the election or appointment of of its interest; and that interest is, that the laws district attorneys, as I understand the article pro shall be laxly administered and carelessly executed, posed by the committee. They propose to place and in many cases not executed at all. I assert in the hands of the power that shall remove an that this class values its class interest — that officer the power to appoint. Taking their argu- is, impunity in vice and crime entirely ment as true, that the duties of the office of dis-above the
of any trict attorney have not been properly discharged: political party. I assert that this class will either that the district attorneys of the various counties nominate a district attorney under our present have neglected their duty and have failed to pros-party machinery, or, if not successful in that, ecute notorious criminals, and have allowed crim- will defeat the nomination of whichever party inals to escape; also have failed to prosecute their may be obnoxious to it. I say, while you elect bail bonds. I desire to call the attention of the district attorneys, you will continually expose the Convention to this fact, that the power already public to this ever-present danger of having men exists in the Governor, under the present Consti- as district attorneys, whom the criminal class have, tution, to remove these men from office for any by their casting vote, elected, and who are natuof these alleged charges. If there is a charge rally flexible to the interests of that class. I depreferred against a district attorney elected, the sire to guard the public against this great peril, Governor has the power under the present sys. and I see no other way to do it but to give the tem, to remove him if found guilty. And why is appointment of this officer to the Governor of this it, in view of this alleged neglect of duty, that State, who represents the whole State, who is the thus far the Governor has invariably failed to chief executive of the laws of this State, and to act? How are we to provide for greater secu. hold him sternly responsible for the exercise of rity in the administration of justice, when for this power. twenty years past our Governors have failed to Mr. GOULD- I take it, sir, that this Convenremove one of these district attorneys? Why tion is not engaged in the trial of A. Oakley Hall, place the power of removal and the power of nor of any other individual whatever. The true appointment in the hands of the Governors when object which we have in view is to ascertain they have failed to perform their duty as the Con- whether, on the whole, taking all the counties of stitution now stands, provided the complaints the State together, this system of the election of made now against district attorneys are true? district attorneys has worked well, or whether it You propose to change the manner of selection, but has worked ill. Now, sir, this,' like all other you do not propose to change the manner of questions of a similar character, must be decided removal You leave it in the same hands upon the facts of the case. I was very desirous where no power of removal has been ex. that this Convention would be willing to adjourn ercised, except in one or two instances for the this discussion until the coming in of the report
of the Committee on the Prevention and Punish- shall be able to do so by and by. Let me state ment of Crime, who would have a large collection one case which occurred in my own county, and of facts, arranged in an orderly manner, which I that will illustrate the carelessness which is manam satisfied would aid this Convention very much fested all over the State. I speak of a case of in coming to a correct conclusion in regard to the arson occurring in the town of New Lebanon, matter; but as they choose not to do so, let me which stirred up the whole population of that call their attention to one single fact, and then place as probably no crime ever committed stirred they will be able to judge whether this system up that population. The person indicted for that has worked well in the county of Albany, and I offense was allowed to go free for three years, take the county of Albany for an illustration, not and when he was brought up before the court of from any invidious motives whatever, but simply general sessions he was remanded back to the because she stands at the head of the list in court of oyer and terminer, and from the oyer alphabetical order. In the county of Albany, in and terminer back to the general sessions; and the ten years last past, there have been found in that way, like a battledoor and shuttlecock, he 3,606 indictments by the grand jury, while all the was played about for three years. Finally the criminals that have been tried in the criminal gentleman whose store was burned determined courts of the county of Albany during that period that he would urge the district attorney to try amount to 262, showing that only one indictment the case, and the district attorney dared to do no out of fifteen has been tried there, the remainder otherwise than try it, and he obtained a convice have been either discharged by the court or dis- tion. The case was then appealed to the snpreme missed on bail which has been estreated and never court on a question of law, and as soon as that collected; while the indicted criminal has been appeal was entered the district attorney applied left at fúl liberty to prey again upon the com- to the court to allow this man to give bail, and munity.
the bail was given in the sum of $2,000; and Mr. SCHUMAKER—Will you please state the the men against whom executions had been renature of those indictments? The mere fact of turned nulla bona were taken as the signers of indictments amounts to nothing. Do you know the bail-bondanything about the kind of indictments ?
Mr. SCHUMAKER—That was the fault of the Mr. GOULD—The facts of which I am speak- judge. ing are those which are returned by the county Mr. GOULD-And the man went off, and has clerk of the county of Albany, and are in the never been seen since. The county of Columbia most general form; there are no specific state incurred an expense of $4,000, and that is all that ments with regard to the matter.
ever come of it. Mr. SCHUMAKER-Then you do not know Mr. SCHUMAKER—Was it not the fault of anything about the contents of the indictments, the judge ? for what crime parties were indicted ? You Mr. GOULD—It certainly was granted by the merely know the naked number indicted ? judgo, but at the motion of the district attorney.
Mr. GOULD-That is all that this resolution Mr. SCHUMAKER—In the case that you refer called for. But the fact remains that out of 3,606 to the judge granted the prisoner bail on habeas indictments only 262 have been brought to trial, corpus. and it strikes me as a very significant fact, which Mr. GOULD-At the motion of the district should be pondered well by this Convention before attorney. they determine the question before them. And Mr. SCHUMAKER-The district attorney had I may remark, in general, that this is a fair nothing to do with it. He was brought before statement for the whole State. I have only time the judge on a habeas corpus. I understand the to sum up the statement by saying that in the case well. county of Columbia, ont of 264 indictments that Mr. GOULD_That is not as I understand it. were found, only fifty-five (or one out of five in- Let us take another case. The amount of the dictments) has been tried; and it runs very estreated bail in the county of Albany, as returned much the same way in other sections of the by the county clerk, amounted to $17,250. I susState. There is a very great want of careful trial pect that that is very greatly underrated, for, in of indictments, and that is the reason why crimes the year 1865, I went through the books of the are so rife in this community ; because the variety general sessions and of the court of oyer and of means of allowing our criminals to escape is so terminer for the county of Albany, and, unless I am very great that district attorneys do not try them greatly mistaken, the amount of estreated bail in as thoroughly as they ought to do.
that year amounted to at least $40,000. Let us, Mr. SCHUMAKER-Do you not know that however, suppose that the statement of the county there are certain indictments which can be set- clerk is a correct statement and that that amount tled without being tried ?
has been estreated during the past ten years. Mr GOULD— yes; there may be some such What are the facts of the case ? Not one dollar thing
of estreated bail has been paid into the treasury Mr. SCHUMAKER—Do you know what kind of the county of Albany; and I assert
, sir, that they are ?
there are not over ten counties in the State of Mr. GOULD—I cannot tell you all the kinds. New York where a single dollar of estreated bail Assault and battery, I think, is one of them. has been paid into the county treasury during the
Mr. SCHUMAKER-Do you know what rela- last ten years. There is a large amount of bail ostion assault and battery bears to the whole num- treated in every county in the State. Over one ber of those you have mentioned ?
and three-quarter million of dollars have been Mr. GOULD—I havo not summed them up; I already reported. But who gets the benefit of
it? That is the question. We certainly know, in conversation with Governor Fenton only yes. and know officially, that the county treasury does terday afternoon, and I put this question to him; not get the benefit of it. It seems to me that whether, in the discharge of his duties, he felt these things, which are well ascertained facts, bound to watch over the administration of criminal show that the present system is erroneous and justice in the State of New York, and whether, that it ought to be changed, and that some rem- without being specially called upor, he would in. edy should be found for all these evils.
terpose and send the Attorney General there. His Mr BARKER—During your investigation, did reply was that he did not feel himself bound to you try to find how these facts compare with the watch over this matter, unless his attention was record prior to 1846 ?
spocially called to it by persons interestMr. GOULD-No, sir; I have not examined. ed, in the different counties, and was not in the But my memory runs back to that time, under habit of doing it. He does not feel, and no other the Constitution of 1821, when the district attor- Governor has felt that interest in the thing which neys were appointed by the criminal courts of the it is absolutely necessary some one should have. respective counties, and I know for a certainty It seems to me that if any proposition is perfectly that these things were done a great deal better plain, it is that the district attorney, for the reathen than now. I know in my own county of sons mentioned
by the gentleman from Columbia-during the anti-rent excitement, the Rensselaer [Mr. M. I. Townsend). which he trials arising out of those anti-rent quarrels-the has stated very lucidly and clearly, in my then district attorney, who is now a judge of the opinion, should be entirely independent supreme court of that district, and who was of popular clamor and popular passion. appointed by the court, discharged his duties His sole duty should be to administer the laws fearlessly and well, in a strong anti-rent county. with faithfulness and with zeal. It seems to me, He procured a great number of convictions. Such sir, that he cannot do so while he is under the convictions could not be obtained since the pres- pressure of public opinion, as he is under the proent Constitution has been adopted. It stands to visions of the present Constitution. I must conreason, sir, that a district attorney desiring to be fess, sir, that I should prefer-and at the proper re-elected will pay great attention to public time I shall introduce an amendment—to make opmion.
the general criminal court of a county the apMr. SCHUMAKER-Did not the Governor of pointing power, as it was under the Constitution the State assist the district attorney of Colum- of 1821. It was admirably managed in that case, bia county?
and if the judges of the criminal courts are investMr. GOULD-In one case, and but one; the ed with the power of appointmeut or removal of others were conducted by Mr. Miller alone. the district attorney, I have no doubt that a very
Mr. SCHUMAKER-Did he not send special great improvement would be effected. persons to the county of Columbia, to try The CHAIRMAN announced the question to particular cases ?
be upon the amendment of Mr. Veeder. Mr. GOULD-He sent Governor Seward in a Mr. VEEDER-In the Constitution where it particular case—it was to aid in the trial of Big speaks of clerks I wish, by my amendment, also Thunder.
to include the register and clerk of the city and Mr. SCHUMAKER—Did he not send Rufus W. county of New York. Peckham?
Mr. FOLGER—I wish to ask the gentleman Mr. GOULD—I think he did in one case ; but why he wishes to make the register of Kings the other cases were conducted by Judge Miller county a constitutional officer when he is now an alone, and conducted fearlessly and faithfully. officer by statute. You would get no such fearless and faithful trials Mr. VEEDER—My object is to avoid any missince this last Constitution was adopted. It is understanding about it; this office having been perfectly evident why it is that these district established by a separate clause in the Constituattorneys are careless in this matter. They are tion of 1846, and the register of Kings county paid just as much salary for doing nothing as they having been established since, I want it put in, in are paid for doing something. Now, sir, when a way that there shall be no mistako about it and the court is held, and a large criminal calendar is have it included, as the register of New York was to be tried, the district attorney has a number of in the Constitution of 1846. private cases which it will pay him to engage in ; Mr. FOLGER—There is also a register in Westis it not perfectly natural that the district chester county, but I do not see any reason for attorney should engage in cases for which he is making him a Constitutioual officer. paid, rather than those for which he is not paid? Mr. HUTCHINS-It was not my purpose to
Mr. SCHUMAKER—I will ask the gentleman say anything on the question now before the whether he knows that there are district attor. committee and I should not had not some remarks neys in this State who are not paid a salary? fallen_from the lips of the gentleman from
Mr. GOULD—No, sir; I think not. It has New York (Mr. Gerry), which I think should not been said that the Governor of the State of New go unanswered at this time. I speak more parYork has the power to send the Attorney- ticularly for the city and county of New York. General, in cases where the public opinion of That district attorneys in most other counties of the county is very much in favor of the com- the State may very properly be elected by the mission of any particular kind of crime—as people, and that an equal and perhaps better in the cases of anti-rent rebellions. It is very class of officers may be secured by electrue that he has that power, but no Governor has tion rather than by appointment I felt himself bound to exercise that power. I was willing to concedo; but, sir, so far as the
city of New York is concerned, I cannot allow council on the first election of that officer, in 1855, this committee to go uninformed of the fact in which he says: that the gentleman who holds the position of “It was thought that making the police hold district attorney of the city and county of office during good behavior would remove it enNew York, if he was here to speak for himself, tirely from political influences; but whilst the I think would advocate appointment by the power to appoint, suspend and remove is political Governor, rather than election by the peo- and elective, it will be expecting too much of huple. Why, sir, in 1857, when the question man nature to suppose that political influence can was before the Legislature whether there should be excluded altogether. The whole police board be formed out of the city of New York and was elected at the late election, two of the late adjoining counties a metropolitan police district, board (the recorder and the city judge) being canthe commissioners to be appointed by the didates for re-election, and policemen would have Governor on the confirmation of the Senate, Mr. been more or less than men if they could have Hall, the present district attorney of New York, remained indifferent spectators of the result. I was the earnest, able, and persevering advocate of am confident the judiciary is not the proper authat measure, and it was owing to his influeace and thority for determining police matters; nor are its labors almost entirely that it became members qualified, either by habits of life or train the law of the State, and, I may add, remains so of reflection, to make good commissioners. The to this time. What is your district attorney but bench and the service would each be benefited a branch of the police, a part of the power to by a separation. My colleagues on the present see that the law is executed? The police arrest police board fully concur in these opinions." the offender; the district attorney sees that he is He then quotes from a letter written by Mr. indicted and properly tried; sees that justice is Wood to the then Lieutenant-Governor of the done between the people and the prisoner. He State as to the propriety of the election of these acts not alone as the counsel of the people, but commissioners by the people. He says: as the counsel of the prisoner, to see that justice "The commissioners are to be elected by the peois done between him and the people. No feeling ple. It will not do to assume that the members of pride to point to the number of convictions of the Legislature are ignorant of the mode of obtained by him should control the action of the conducting our primary elections in this city by district attorney in the discharge of his duty, dwelling upon objections to this way of making and the fact stated by the gentleman from commissioners, who are to be clothed with the New York [Mr. Gerry] of the number important power of appointing, trying, punishing of convictions in that city showing and removing policemen in whose hands are placed how honest, and faithful in the dis- the custody of the peace, order, property and lives charge of his duties the district attorney is, I of nearly three-quarters of a million of inhabithink proves nothing. He has to see that justice tants. There are some propositions so evident is done; to see that those who are guilty are con- that no argument or statements are required to victed, and that the innocent do not suffer, The elucidate them; that a police system founded upon gentleman from New York (Mr. Gerry] said to this principle, deriving its appointment from this the gentleman from Westchester (Mr. Greeley] source, will be destructive to every semblance of that if there was anything wrong the Attorney. what constitutes police, is one of these." General could come down to the district attor. That was the language of Mr. Wood in 1855, ney's office, overhaul his papers and rec- when mayor of the city of New York, and prob. ords, and see that all was made right. ably understanding the politics of this state as This is not so. The Attorney-General has no well as any gentleman upon this floor, or any such power over district attorneys; he cannot go other gentleman of this state. Mr. Hall then into his office and interfere with him in the dis- proceeds to say: charge of his duty. The Governor may give him “The first objection made to this proposition is direction to attend the court of oyer and termi- its assumption, by the State, of power in governner and assist the district attorney in the trial of ment which belongs to local authorities. Police, cases (or a justice of the supreme court may according to Blackstone, is defined to be the ingive that instruction), and there his power and ternal government of a kingdom or State. The duty ends.
Legislature, which is the representative of the Mr. GERRY-Will the gentleman give way for whole police power of the State, under constitua moment to allow me to ask him a question ? tiopal grants, selects its depositories of that power.
Mr. HUTCHINS — No, sir. The Governor That selection must vary under circumstances or judge of the supreme court can give that The minor village of a sparsely settled district, or direction, and that is all the power that the the smallest city of the interior, may be very well Attorney-General can exercise in these mat:ers. allowed its local government uncontrolled, even Now, if the committee will pardon me, I will give should it see fit to utterly neglect the advantages the views of the present district attorney of the and abuse the power conferred; for these may be city of New York on this subject. They are con- of no concern, except to their own immediate cittained in a communication to the Committee on izens. Cities and Villages of the Senate of 1857, and are "Government, within a subdivisiou of the State, so well expressed, strongly put, cogent and pow. developes in magnitude and importance according erful that nothing I could say would add to their to its size, to its woalth, to its population, to its force. In the first place, he refers to a message intercourse with other subdivisions. Thus, the of his Honor, Fernando Wood, then mayor of the harbor-master of a great port, the wardens, the city of New York, presented to the common principal officer of its health, the almoners of its
charities, the guardian of its emigrants, may most of Legislature: "Their constituents on their improperly be appointed by local authorities, and visits to our city, on business or pleasure, pecubest selected by the central power; for, although liarly require the protection of a vigilant and entheir sphere of action is local
, and their subordi- ergetic police. nates hold local habitation, their duties affect the "It is tauntingly said that no member of the police, or the commerce, or the health and well. Legislature from New York city desires these being of the whole State.
reforms. Granted that this may prove so; the "The police department of New York city, as at question is pertinent whether justice to their own present organized, is an inqovation upon democra- constituency does not require that the country cy, in that it contains within it a standing army members should assist them to a practical climax. almost subject to despotic control. Grant that "Many experienced citizens of Now York city this latter is expedient, must you not avoid the believe that the general theory of the proposed absurdity of mingling the democratic and aristo- act is capable of practicable accomplishment. cratic elements so freely as to neutralize each other They believe that, under its auspices, the time in operation ? New York city is one of the main will speedily come when, with regular and special gates of the State. Within it the citizen of every policemen, the great metropolis will be guarded town, hamlet and village enters with his merchan- by vigilant men, who, unawed by the political dise, his superfluities of wealth, or his sacred per whip, not enervated by favoritism, diligently inson and life. Millions of denizens from other spected, carefully instructed, urged by honorable States, or foreign lands, also seek its portals year emulation, rewarded by promotion, pensiored in by year. Its cleanliness, its order, its health and sickness, and insured at death, will constitute a its security for property or life, are matters of department as perfect in operation as the peculi. vital importance to the whole State. Selfishness arities of human nature or as “moral insanity” cannot sustain its logic when, in the great metrop- will permit; when a great army may instantly be olis of the Empire State it says to the Buffalo for- raised to combat riot or control pestilence; when warder, or to the Rochester miller, or to the cleanly streets will be attained at comparatively Oneida tanner, “Your property, when in New slight cost, and without regard to the whims or York city, concerns none except the local au: perjuries of a negligent contractor, or the disthorities, who will protect it as they please." honosty of a sworn official, defying alike the law Nor when it argues to the unsophisticated and his civic associates; when the person of the country gentleman, or to its citizen-relative elector will be kept sacred; when polls must be of an arriving emigrant, or to the person of guarded, and when fraud will not lurk under the wealth visiting it to embark for Europe, “Mes- ballot-box; when the inhabitants of a great city sieurs, you may walk into Peter Funk shops, be and the travelers of a great State may feel that robbed by midnight marauders, be preyed upon by life and property are not to be solely guarded designing sharks, and be dealt with as they may under the instincis of the law of nature. please to treat you, but this government is our " The rural districts of the Stato contribute sole local concern." The peculiar circumstances largely to the wealth and magnificence of its which cluster around the geographical situation metropolis. May not the people of the latter hope of New York city, and in relation thereby to that the so-called rural members of the Legislathe whole State, and the connection of its ture will at least interfere for the protection of soociety and wealth with the interior of the their own constituency by the improvement of the State, render fallacious the argument which local polico in the city of New York." pride would thus make. Suppose that the local That law was passed, Mr. Chairman. We have authorities of the city choose to let their gutters lived under its action for ten years, and I have reek with filth: to allow a plundering of the ware- heard of no wish for its repeal, certainly no petihouses of goods in transitu by marauding bands tiou of that kind has come up to this body, and I of political allies; to permit Broadway at night to can only say in conclusion that all the arguments rival Hounslow Heath, cannot the sovereign pow. that applied in the case of the formation of the er of the State interfere and take back from the Metropolitan police board, to taking the power of local agents the delegated power which it gave selecting the commissioners away from the people, and bestow it upon others? and under such cir- applies equally to the election of district attorney cumstances ought it not to do so? To borrow the of the city and county of New York. I do not rhetoric of Mr. Wood, in the last extract, " It stand here to find fault with Mr. Hall in the will not do to assume that the members of the discharge of his duty; I am willing to concede Legislature are ignorant" of the growing insecu- that he has been a capable, and energetic rity of property and person in the city by "dwell- officer, but it is impossible for a man looking for ing upon" detail which the press have made house. re-election or for election from that class of inhold words from Sandy Hook to Suspension habitants which he describes in the communicaBridge; an insecurity which relates, according to tion referred to (and they are the class who conofficial statistics, as much to the strangers in our trol primary elections); it is utterly impossible metropolis as to its citizens. Fully one-half of that he should be that independent public officer the criminal cases brought before grand juries con- that he would be if he derived his appointment cern non-resident complainants defrauded from some other source. Whether it should come by baggage-staashers, passenger agents, mock from the Governor or county judges, as under the auctioneers, disreputable houses, dock thieves, Constitution of 1821, or some other authority I am hotel burglars and midnight marauders. And in not prepared now to say, but that it should come the opposition remonstrance of March, 1855, from some other source than from the people occurs this language in speaking of the members directly in the city of New York, I, for my own