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CORNELIUS F. COLLINS,
The first thing to be done is to master called “English Law & Equity Digest." the leading principles applying to the Since 1866 a digest has been published of case. One would usually read text books cases in all the courts, known as “The for that purpose, and he might resort to Digests of the Law Reports." Fisher's these also to obtain lists of cases which Digest is of great value.
Digest is of great value. Of this there is are generally to be found in the notes : it an American reprint called “Jacob's is also requisite to consult Law Digests. Fisher's Digest." There is also a valuable
The English Digests may be divided digest by John Mews, with assistants, into Old and New. The best of the Old extending from 1756 to 1888 with conDigests are Bacon's Abridgement, Com- tinuations, now in seven volumes. In yns's Digest, Viner's Abridgement. Viner's addition to the strict matter appropriate work is very extensive but not so well to a digest there will be found in some of arranged nor of such high authority as the these series volumes containing mere taother two. Comyns's is particularly es- bles of cases, the object of which is to teemed, and a citation from it has nearly enable the one who knows the name of a the same weight as a case.
case to find volume and page where it The New Digests, until recently, were was reported. These latter are of great classified according to the court, so that convenience to lawyers. “Chitty's Equity there would be one for the common law Digest," in nine volumes, brings down court, another for equity, and a third for the equity decisions to the year 1889 admiralty. Harrison's and Fisher's Di. In this country there are digests of gests contain the cases of the common law State decisions : thus, in New York, we course ; Chitty's Digest those in equity; have Abbott's, Clinton's and Brightley's. Pritchard's those in admiralty.
Abbott's is the most carefully prepared. There is also another digest containing In addition to the State Digest there is a all the cases from 1854 to 1857 which is work called the U. S. Digest which, contains the cases decided in all the State at the election of the plaintiff, although Courts as well as those of the U. S., and each had exclusive control of certain other this, in addition to a digest of the law of cases. Any one of these judges could one's own State, is the one most commonly try a cause in connection with a jury, in found in a lawyer's office. The United which case he is said to sit at Nisi Prius. States Digest, after 1888, was discontinued Decisions of this kind have not the same and the American Digest (annual) was force as those rendered by a full court. published for the first time in 1889, and is There are however many of these reported to be continued.
in England. A digest, as the name implies, contains The principal Nisi Prius Reporters are a collection, or abstract, of the decisions Peake, Espinasse, Campbell and Carringmethodically arranged under appropriate ton, with various partners, and Foster and legal topics. A digest should only be Finlason. The little credit due this class used as a mode of consulting reports and of reporters is referred to in 5 Taunt, 195. should never be implicitly relied on, as Espinasse in particular is full of bad and the only safe course is to read the case overruled cases. digested and use the digest as a means of The judges also sat together to form a finding it.
full court, and were then said to sit in banc. After the authorities have been collected Until 1866, the reports were in a very unthe next thing to be considered is their satisfactory condition : then there were weight and value. It is important to un- regular reporters appointed in each court derstand the value of the English decis- who published decisions. Decisions were ions as they are a source of the law, and also published in four law periodicals, American authority in a great measure viz: “Law Journal,” . Solicitor's Journal,” rests upon them.
“London Law Times," and "Jurist.” The The principal courts of England are : leading regular reporters for the fifty years Common Law.
preceeding 1866, will now be referred to. b Equity.
In the Queen's Bench, Barnwall, Adolc Admiralty.
phus, Ellis and Best. Each from time to d Ecclesiastical.
time was associated with other reporters. There were, until recently, three com- In the Common Pleas, Scott's reports have mon law courts of original jurisdiction. a great reputation. In the Exchequer,
a King's Bench, Queen's Bench, the the leading names are Meeson, Crompton decisions of which are cited as K. B. or and Welsby and Hurlstone with, various
partners. In 1866, an association called b Court of Common Pleas, cited as “Council of Law Reporting " commenced C. P. or C. B., the latter standing for Com- the publication of a series of reports called mon Bench.
the “Law Reports.” C. Exchequer, cited as Ex.
The court next above these Common Each of these courts consisted of five Law Courts was, until recently, called the Judges who were called collectively Com- Ex. Chamber. mon Law Judges to distinguish them from It had cognizance of appeals from each those of the other courts. Many cases of the three lower courts, and was somecould come before any one of these courts what peculiarly organized. It always