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OLD MEMBERS OF THE CALHOUN AND KALAMAZOO COUNTY BARS

BY A. D. P. VAN BUREN

The lawyers who came here in the territorial days were men of adventurous spirit and sound legal ability. Chief among them were John Hascall, Lyman I. Daniels, Jeremiah Humphrey and Cyrus Lovell. The pioneer lawyer's first practice was before his honor, the justice of the peace, and it continued there till the district or circuit courts were established. The justice courts were usually held in log houses, and although as a rule there "was no superiority of law or learning, justice was substantially administered. " Five dollars was the accustomed fee for a lawyer, and this was often paid in ''dicker, '" as money could not always be obtained even by those rich in lands. And the technicalities of law were held to with somewhat less veneration than what was regarded as the essential claims of justice. Judge Ransom's advice to his brother Roswell, who was a territorial justice of the peace, was, "Avail yourself of all the clear law that you may have or can get, in regard to the matter at issue, and all that the lawyers on either side may bring out, but, whatever that may be, much or little, always stick to the facts and the common sense of the case, and you invariably will come to the most just conclusion. " In fact, our pioneer justices were relieved from their lack or limitation of legal lore by relying on their own good sense and that of the jury to carry the case through right. A corrupt jury was a thing unheard of in the pioneer days. The infirmities of the jury system had not set in, and hence no difficulty was experienced from it, as a stern sense of justice not only prevailed among the early settlers of the state, but also in the court room, and largely governed the conduct of the lawyers who, thus restrained, did not descend to the mere technical arts of their profession, but took rather the broad ground of justice and right.

Michigan


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