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Of the Commissioners to report a Code of
Albany, February, 1889.
TO THE SPEAKER OF THE ASSEMBLY :
SIR :—The Commissioners, appointed by the Governor pursuant to Chapter 124 of the Laws of 1887, to report a Code of Evidence, beg leave through you, to present to the Legislature their final and complete report.
With great respect, your obedient servants,
DAVID DUDLEY FIELD.
TO THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK:
The Commissioners appointed pursuant to chapter one hundred and twenty-four of the laws of 1887, have the honor herewith to lay before the Legislature their final and complete report of a Code of Evidence.
The Code which the Commissioners have the honor to submit as the result of their labors, is intended to embody the whole law of evidence of the State, except that branch of it which strictly relates to procedure, codified, according to the natural divisions of the subject into a systematic series of general rules.
It has been a question of some embarrassment, how far it would be wise to go into details in the preparation of this Code. Two opposite difficulties were to be avoided. On one hand was the danger of making the provisions too general to be of any practical value, on the other was the equal danger, by going into minute details, of making the rules of evidence inflexible and intricate, increasing greatly thereby the risks of accident and mischance. Whether they have succeeded in finding what they desired, a middle path between a too broad generalization of the rules of evidence too wide for safety and utility on the one hand, and too narrowly particularized for convenience on the other, can only be known by the result.
In carrying out their task, the Commissioners have made but few intentional changes in the law of evidence. Such changes are explained in the notes accompanying this report. These cases of intentional change may as properly be called a harmonizing of conflicting rules as changes in the law. With these exceptions, no effort has been spared to make this Code represent the law of evidence as it actually exists in the statutes and decisions of the state.