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limited range, its power is absolute, as there is no appeal from its decision. Even the governor, in the exercise of his pardoning power, cannot set aside or modify such a decision.
214. Miscellaneous Matters. Judges of the supreme court, district courts of appeal, and superior courts may be removed in three ways: by impeachment, by a concurrent resolution of both houses of the legislature adopted in each house by a two-thirds vote, and by the people through the recall. Judges of the inferior courts may be removed by the people, or by the superior court if convicted of “willful or corrupt misconduct ” in office.
The supreme court, district courts of appeal, and superior courts are called “courts of record.” Until within comparatively recent times, inferior courts did not keep complete records of their proceedings, and were said to be courts “not of record.” They are still so classed, although they now keep complete records. This classification is thus of little practical importance and would not be referred to here except for the fact that it is mentioned in the constitution.
The records of a court are public records. They consist of a court docket in which is entered the title of each case, the date of its commencement, a statement of every subsequent proceeding, and of all fees charged; a complete statement, or a synopsis, of every order, judgment, or decree of the court; and a complete set of indexes.
The written decisions of the supreme court and of the district courts of appeal are compiled by the official reporter appointed for the purpose, and are printed under his supervision. With the approval of the secretary of state and the attorney-general, he awards the contract for the printing to the firm which agrees to print the decisions according to specifications and sell the bound volumes at the lowest price, - not exceeding four dollars per volume. Three hundred copies of each volume are purchased by the secretary of state to be distributed to certain officers and libraries as prescribed by law. There were, in October, 1913, 164 volumes of supreme court decisions running back to 1850; and 19 volumes of the decisions of
1 See article VII of the constitution.
the district courts of appeal, running back to 1905, the date of the organization of these courts. Each volume contains something more than 700 pages. Many references are made to these volumes in this book. (For example see page 300.)
Any person wishing to practice law before the courts of this state must first obtain a certificate from one of the district courts of appeal. Such certificates are granted on the presentation of similar certificates from other states, and on examination.
The power of the courts is so extensive that our liberties would be endangered if they acted in an arbitrary manner. It is therefore essential that they act at all times according to established laws, rules, and customs, rather than according to the opinions and impulses of individual judges. The judges realize this to a greater extent than their fellow citizens, and it has sometimes seemed as if they were more concerned about the observance of technical rules of procedure than the rendering of justice. This has been especially true in criminal proceedings, because the courts feel that they should be unusually guarded and temperate when they have in their keeping the lives and liberties of men. They have therefore permitted a good many criminals to escape punishment on mere technical points of law. For this reason the voters of California at the special election in 1911 adopted an amendment to the constitution which is intended to prevent such miscarriages of justice. (See section 4į, article VI.)
The power of the courts to declare laws and local ordinances null and void when they are shown to be inconsistent with any part of the national or state constitution is well established. This makes the courts the guardians of the people's will, as expressed in their fundamental laws, against
any governmental agency which knowingly or inadvertently attempts to put any contrary principle into operation. This is their highest function and constitutes the greatest element of their power.
1. What is the purpose of the courts?
3. What function has a jury in a civil suit ? How many persons constitute such a jury? How many must concur in the verdict ?
4. What is a crime? Is all lawbreaking crime? 5. What is bail? Why is it granted? When is it not granted ?
6. When is a person said to be prosecuted by indictment? By information? What is the difference?
7. What are the advantages of secret sessions of the grand jury?
8. How are grand and trial, juries impaneled? What is a talesman? A juror ?
9. What is meant by the process of a court ?
10. What two kinds of misdemeanors are mentioned in this chapter? What is a felony?
II. What is meant by the jurisdiction of a court?
13. In what sense is the senate as a court of impeachment our highest state court?
14. Under what conditions may a case be appealed from the state supreme court to the national supreme court ?
THE CONSTITUTION OF CALIFORNIA
215. The Making of the Constitution. -- Our present constitution was adopted in 1879. Dissatisfaction with the constitution of 1849 was due, in large measure, to the hard times that prevailed after the financial panic of 1873. Many people believed that they were due to extortion on the part of the railroads and to the presence of large numbers of Chinese laborers in California. The demand for the regulation of the railroads became very insistent, especially in the rural districts, where the grangers had a powerful organization. The sentiment against the Chinese was strongest in the cities, where large numbers of men were unemployed. The old constitution had been adopted before either of these problems arose, and all discontented elements, believing that they could be solved only by changing the fundamental law, united in demanding a new constitution. The legislature of 1876, by the necessary two-thirds vote, decided to submit to the voters the proposition of calling a constitutional convention. The proposition was approved by a small majority of the voters, and the legislature of 1878 passed an act providing for the convention.
Times became even harder between 1876 and 1878, and the discontent increased. In 1877 the Workingman's Party was formed in San Francisco, and soon spread to other cities. This new party elected 51 of the 152 delegates
to the constitutional convention. Of the remaining delegates 78 were elected on a nonpartisan ticket, II were Republicans, 10 were Democrats, and 2 were Independents. The representatives of the Workingman's Party formed the most radical element in the convention. Many of the members from the country districts, who represented the views of the grangers, acted in harmony with this element on many questions; and thus the conservatives and the radicals were about evenly divided. But the conservatives controlled the convention throughout because of the fact that practically all the members of ability and legal training were found in their ranks. Thus the constitution as drawn up by the convention was in the main conservative, although the influence of the radical element can easily be seen.
The convention was in session from September 28, 1878, to March 3, 1879. The constitution was ratified by the voters of the state May 7, 1879, and went into effect January 1, 1880. It is given in the following pages as amended to date (1913).
216. Contents of the Constitution. — The constitution contains twenty-three articles, as follows:
I. Declaration of Rights. (Page 327.)
V. Executive Department. (Page 350.)
1 The election was held June 19, 1879. Of the 152 delegates elected, two died before the convention met, one resigned, and four did not attend. The convention thus consisted of 145 delegates.
2 Hittell’s History of California, Vol. IV, pages 613-640.