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This work is respectfully dedicated to the members of the Gage County Bar, in recognition of their ability and friendship, and to the users of statutes generally, in acknowledgment of the many valuable suggestions and assistance received in its preparation by
In efforts towards the reduction of statute law to a symmetrical and convenient form, three stages may be noted, viz., compilation, consolidation, and revision. To the second, only, of these does the present work aspire. Its editor is not clothed with the powers of a reviser, and he has not attempted to prepare a revision of the statutes, however desirable such an achievement may be.
Nevertheless, it has been sought to make this more than a mere compilation in which laws should be arranged according to a chronological or other mechanical plan, or no plan at all, or in which the system of arrangement employed by some pioneer codifier should be followed with slavish exactness. The design of this work is that of a consolidation of existing laws, and accordingly great pains have been taken to group all analogous acts under titles at once the most comprehensive and appropriate, so that the investigator, in any subject upon which the legislature has spoken, may be able to consult in one place all its kindred enactments which are now in force. This is one of the distinctive aims of the work; how far it has been accomplished is for its patrons to determine.
As to the ground plan of a work of this nature, such as the naming and insertion of chapters, two systems are now in vogue. The more modern of these, which may be termed the analytical, is that formulated by Dr. Thomas Erskine Holland in his treatise on Jurisprudence; adopted by Mr. F. J. Stimson in his exhaustive work on American Statute Law; and first, to my knowledge, employed in an edition of statutes by Emlin McLain, whose Annotated Code of Iowa has thus become a model of systematic arrangement and precise legal nomenclature. By this system the entire body of the law is classified upon a scientific basis, and each act and chapter is distributed according to its subject-matter.
The other system, the alphabetical, is the one most commonly employed by codifiers. Under it, the chapters are arranged and inserted in the order of the first letters of their titles. While the first named system is unquestionably the more logical, it has not been deemed wise to make too radical a change from the plan so long in use in this state. The external features of the alphabetical system are therefore retained, but, as stated above, care has been taken to make the titles of the chapters sufficiently comprehensive to include the whole law of the subject, and thus to avoid that severing and scattering of kindred subjects, which is one of the most serious defects of the old plan. The analytical system has been thus dwelt upon, in order to call attention to a plan of arrangement whose merits will hardly fail of appreciation the more they are studied.
The theory of the chapter, according to this work, is that of a group of acts; and it has been the aim to reproduce each act as nearly as possible as in the original.
The title is inserted in the text, and only those portions are omitted which are local or obsolete. The plan in distributing the different acts throughout a chapter is to group, first, those whose provisons are general; second, the more specific; and lastly, those of a miscellaneous character. For economy of space, as well as for convenience, the original session laws are referred to by the year and page only. For enactments prior to 1866, the revision of that year is cited, as the legislature has made it the best evidence of what the law of that period is; and has declared it to be the standard in case of discrepancies between it and the sessional volume. (R. S. 1866, p. 683, sec. 2; Laws 1867 (Ter.), p. 7.) The titles and sub-headings of the Codes are printed as in the original.
I have employed the "interior catch word system" in every instance where it was at all available, because (1) it adds nothing to the section which is not a part of the law; (2) it is a saving of space; and (3) it is believed by giving prominence to appropriate words distributed through the section a much better idea of its contents can be conveyed, than by the old bracketed initial word system, and especially would this advantage be seen in the long sections. As this system was new to my assistants, as well as to myself, we may not always have been judicious in our selection of words to be made prominent by the black letters, but this does not militate against the general merits of what I believe will be the system of the future.
The consecutive numbering of sections has been adopted as that used in the best statute compilations of to-day. The original code numbers have also been retained where those sections have not been repealed.
In the annotations the aim has been to give in a few words the gist of the decision as it affects the particular statute under consideration, remembering that an annotated statute is not intended to take the place of a digest, and in grouping the several annotations under one section, to place the more specific first, and those which merely refer to the section in a general way last. To meet the general demand of the profession outside of the large towns, I have referred to the Northwestern Reporter as well as to the state reports: with this double citation the title of the case is not necessary, it has therefore been omitted. The volume of the state report is printed in black letter or antique type to distinguish it from the page of the report which immediately follows it.
In indexing I have referred to section numbers.
I am indebted to Charles S. Lobingier, Esq., known to the bar as a contributor to the American & English Encyclopædia of law, and as the assistant reporter of the supreme court, whose work and suggestions in all of its branches, but especially in the matter of arrangment, have been very valuable. In preparing the annotations I was also assisted by L. M. Pemberton, Esq., S. D. Killen, Esq., and R. W. Sabin, Esq., of the Beatrice bar, and T. D. Cobbey, Esq., now of the Denver bar, and to their thorough and painstaking labor much of the excellence of this branch of the work is due.
It has been generally understood that where the legislature passed laws without an emergency clause they took effect, under our present constitution, three months
from the day on which the legislature adjourned; and as the supreme court had never passed upon that section I followed the generally accepted rule in stating when each act took effect. After much of the manuscript for this work was prepared the attorney general at the request of the sectretary of state, gave an opinion construing that section so far as it applied to the laws passed by the last legislature, under that opinion, which is law until the supreme court speaks, the laws of the last legislature take effect August 1 instead of July 4, and I have so marked them. But in the absence of an opinion by the supreme court I have not given this opinion a wider application, though there is no reason why it should not apply to all laws passed, under our present constitution, without an emergency clause. Following is the opinion referred to, furnished me by the attorney general for publication at my request:
OFFICE OF ATTORNEY GENERAL,
Hon. John C. Allen, Secretary of State.
DEAR SIR: Your favor bearing date April 29, 1891, has been received by me, and the same has been placed on file in this office. I note that you desire an opinion as to the date the laws passed by the 22d Legislative Assembly go into effect. I have the honor to reply as follows:
The constitution of the state of Nebraska provides that "No act shall take effect until three calendar months after the adjournment of the session at which it passed, unless in case of emergency (to be expressed in the preamble or body of the act) the legislature shall, by a vote of two-thirds of all members elected to each house, otherwise direct." (See section 24, art. 3, Const. of Nebraska.)
The word "calendar" means a recorded division of time into periods; a register of the year; an almanac. The word "month means the twelfth part of the calendar year. A calendar month is a solar month as it stands in the almanac. I take it, the constitution makers did not desire the laws to take effect in ninety days, or they would have so stated. They in their wisdom elected the time to be three calendar months. This in my judgment precludes us from considering any part or parts of calendar months. The laws take effect at the expiration of three full calendar months. The legislature adjourned April 4.
I have examined this question with much care, and find no authority which will justify you in doing other than excluding the part of the calendar month known as April. The laws passed by the 22d Legislative Assembly, without an emergency clause, do not take effect until August 1, 1891.
I remain, your most obedient servant,
GEO. H. HASTINGS,
Before entering actively upon this undertaking, I sent out a large number of postals, asking for suggestions from attorneys and others versed in such matters, as to the questions liable to arise in its preparation. I was gratified by the large number
of responses, and the valuable suggestions made. As my powers were only those of a compiler, and not of a reviser, many of the changes suggested could not be made. The numerous repetitions and other errors which creep into a statute with successive legislative enactments, and the vast body of laws (demanded by the growth of the state) enacted since the revision of 1866, impresses upon me the necessity of a thorough and speedy revision of our laws by act of the legislature. I give a translation of the original magna charta, which Green in his History of the English People says: "Marks the transition from the age of traditional rights preserved in memory to the age of written legislation, parliaments, and statutes, and which is looked back to from age to age by patriots as the basis of English liberty." But on account of lack of space it was impossible to include much preliminary matter asked for that might properly find place in such a work.
In conclusion, I desire to again express my thanks to the many hundred friends for valuable suggestions made, and if this work shall prove to be a step in advance toward a perfect statutory compilation, my corps of assistants, as well as myself, will feel that our labors have not been in vain. BEATRICE, NEBRASKA, December 20, 1891.