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people, according to the best of my ability, running the courts with dispatch and as economically and parsimoniously as if the cost and expenses came out of my own pocket.
When I was first elected, the district covered at least half of the territory of the state, sparsely settled, railroads reaching but few of the county seats, and infested with outlaws and the worst kind of criminals. Court was not held by me for ornament, but strictly for business, and soon law and order were established and crime was promptly and fearlessly punished, even at times in peril of my life. Fortunately, Gen. C. J. Dilworth was district attorney. He was one of the coolest and bravest of men, a gallant soldier in the Union army during the Civil War, affable and judicious, clear-headed and a good trial lawyer, having genius and tact to convict criminals, without exciting their hatred, ever cooperating with me to secure the conviction of the guilty; and he is entitled to his full share of the credit for redeeming the district from the reign of terror in which we found it. We conferred together constantly, and I could always rely upon his good judgment. His services were appreciated and rewarded by the law-abiding citizens of Nebraska by electing him attorney general of the state for two terms, which position he filled with credit, as he ever did any public position entrusted to him. He has gone out from among us to the land of the unknown, leaving behind him his widow, an excellent lady, and a worthy and upright son, occupying a prominent position at Omaha, in the legal department of the C., B. & Q. Ry. Co. After General Dilworth was elected attorney general, during the last of the carnival of crime in the fifth district, Hon. Victor Bierbower, peculiarly fitted for the position, occupied the position of district attorney, who acquitted himself with credit, and who died a few years ago in Idaho occupying a prominent state office.
Unfortunately for the taxpayers of Nebraska, the Constitution of 1875, by provision of article 6, section 2, provided that "on and after 1880 and every four years thereafter," the legislature had authority to increase the number of judicial
districts and the number of district judges. Authorized by the above provision, in the session laws of 1883, chapter 37, page 218, the politicians, tricksters, and grafters induced the legislature to increase the number of judicial districts from six to ten, and to add an extra judge for the fourth district; authorized the governor to appoint new judges created by the act until the next regular election, which was promptly done, when there was not the least necessity for this increase; adding to the state taxes $4,000 for the salary of each new judge and his reporter, making $20,000 increase in state taxes for the salaries of the five unnecessary judges and reporters, besides the unnecessary costs and fees of additional bailiffs, jurors, etc., falling on the counties. By act of the legislature of 1885, session laws of 1885, page 239, an additional judge was provided for the second district, the attendant officers following as a consequence, only two years subsequent to the prior act of 1883, extending the number of judicial districts to ten, when section 2, article 6, of the Constitution provides that the number of judges and judicial districts can be increased but once in four years. Well do wé remember the juggling and hair-splitting of the supreme court to get around this provision of the Constitution. After this construction the head-gates were hoisted, and the grafters turned loose to rob the people of the state by creating unnecessary judges and reporters, and court hangers on ad libitum. In 1877 by act of the legislature, found in chapter 6, page 95, the judicial districts were increased to twelve and the number of district judges to nineteen, increasing the state taxes $24,000, the pay of the superfluous judges and reporters, besides the court expenses of extra bailiff fees, jurors, and other court hangers-on. This act provided for four judges for the fourth district, two judges each for the first, fourth, seventh, and ninth districts, and one judge each for the other districts. By act of the legislature of 1889, Session Laws, chapter 44, page 418, an additional judge was provided for the tenth judicial district, increasing the whole number of district judges to twenty. After law business had greatly fallen off, by act
of 1891, Session Laws, chapter 6, page 70, the number of judicial districts were increased to fifteen and number of district judges and reporters to twenty-eight; districts two, seven, eight, nine, ten, twelve, thirteen, and fourteen having one judge each; the first, fifth, sixth, eleventh, and fifteenth having two judges each; the third district having three judges; and the fourth district seven judges. This is one of the most palpable grafts ever perpetrated on the people of the state. Though litigation and business of the courts have greatly decreased, amounting at most to not more than one-third of what it did ten or twelve years ago, there is no diminution in the number of districts, district judges and their reporters, and the concomitant court hangers-on; and though Governor Mickey, one of the best governors for good people and one of the worst for the grafters, in his first inaugural address drew the attention of the legislature to this palpable evil, not the least attention was paid to or notice taken of it. Though this useless expenditure of public money has been apparent to and felt by those conversant with it for years, no steps have been taken to eradicate it. What is everybody's business is nobody's business. When a public office is once created, it can be got rid of only with great difficulty.
As I have said, there are now in Nebraska fifteen judicial districts, twenty-eight district judges, and the same number of reporters, every judge and his reporter costing the tax payers of the state $4,000, besides the extra jurors, criers, bailiffs, and court hangers-on, costing the counties a large sum. I have gone over the matter and made a quite careful estimate, and it seems to me that one judge is ample for the first district, which now has two; that the two counties, Otoe and Cass, comprising the second district, should be attached to the adjoining districts and that district be dispensed with; that one judge is sufficient for the third district, which now has three; that two judges are ample for the fourth district, which now has seven; that one judge is ample for each of the fifth, sixth, eleventh, and fifteenth districts, which each now have two judges; that the counties in the seventh district
should be attached to the adjoining districts where the judges have not more than business enough to occupy one-third of their time; that the tenth and twelfth districts should be united in one, and the same disposition be made of the thirteenth and fourteenth; thus dispensing with seventeen useless and unnecessary judges and the same number of redundant reporters, whose salaries annually amount to $68,000, besides the other costs of unnecessary jurors, bailiffs, and other officers attached to and attendant on the unnecessary judges aggregating some $100,000 yearly expenses and salaries. The last graft, the worst, most obvious and unnecessary of all, passed by the legislature of 1891, after law business had begun to decline.
The district comprising Douglas, Sarpy, Washington, and Burt counties is the only one that ever required more than one judge, not more than two, during the large foreclosure and other cases for a short time, occasioned by the collapse of the boom, a large portion of which went by default, which was the case to a greater or less extent all over the state. This gave the grafters, .designing and professional politicians an opportunity to impose upon the honest and well-meaning public and legislators, thereby to unnecessarily increase the number of judges and judicial districts, by falsely heralding the increase of law business and cases in the courts. These boom cases were mostly default cases, and added very little to the work of the judges and reporters, the decrees and journal entries being written largely by the clerks of the district courts.
During the sixteen years I served as district judge I presided over sixty-eight murder cases, and other important criminal cases in proportion, most of them hotly contested by able lawyers, and now a murder case is rare. I also had frequent county-seat contest cases as well as important equity cases containing important questions, and often involving large sums of money; raising new questions arising in a new state, which required much labor and research; and often held courts for other judges in other districts, espe
cially the first five or six years I was judge, and on an average not over one-third of my time was occupied in holding court.
There is not in this state one-third of the law business there was ten or twelve years ago, and it is growing less every year, an excellent thing for the public. During all this clamor for increase of district judges and judicial districts I can not call to mind an instance when I have heard a district judge advocate it; on the contrary, all I have talked with gave their opinion that it was unnecessary; and that has been the opinion I have heard all well-informed, honest lawyers of the state express. At this time it is obvious to the most casual observer of ordinary intelligence, lawyer or judge or not, that the district judges, reporters, and judicial districts should be greatly reduced. Would it not be a joke if the present legislature increased the number of judicial districts and district judges instead of reducing them? That was just what was done by the legislature of 1891, after I gave a number of that body the communication I have just read, which was published in the State Journal, and to my certain knowledge other district judges gave members of the legislature the same opinion. If the politicians, tricksters, and grafters have control of the legislature, and so will it, it will be done, however detrimental to the public interest and though honest members may oppose it. Both parties preach economy, rightcousness, and strict conformity to the laws and Constitution during campaigns, but disregard their campaign vows when they get in power. All kinds of subterfuges, after being installed, are used to continue and create superfluous and unnecessary and illegal positions in and about the state house and elsewhere to reward relatives, friends, and politicians of the successful party, who helped elect the members in power. They become so thick in and about the state house during the session of the legislature, they run over and trample each other down, though a goodly number of the grafters whose names are on the pay roll and drawing salary are absent.