W[illiam] T[ownsend] McCoun et al. to the New York Legislature, [c24 February 1829]
To the hon. the Legislature of the state of New York:
The memorial of the undersigned committee of the New-York Law Institute, on behalf of the Institute-respectfully sheweth,
That the business of the Court of Chancery having increased within the last few years, in an unprecedented degree, and being likely still more to increase under the newly revised laws, which confer upon that court some additional jurisdiction, it is very manifest that whatever may be the talents and industry of the Chancellor, the powers of no one man are adequate to the discharge of the duties of that office, and therefore as your memorialists believe, this important branch of our judiciary establishment requires to be strengthened, so as to meet the emergency, and to ensure to suitors in that court, not only an able and impartial, but a prompt administration of equity and justice.
Your memorialists know of no plan by which this object can be so well attained as by the appointment of a Vice-Chancellor to reside in the city of New-York, to act as an assistant to the Chancellor, and whose time and attention shall be devoted exclusively to the business of that court within this city.
Your memorialists are however aware that the legislature have already in the revised laws, constituted the several circuit judges, vice-chancellors, but with a local and restricted jurisdiction. This system, your memorialists can readily believe will answer all the purposes for which it is intended, as regards the country, but they most respectfully urge, as the result of their own reflections upon the subject, as well as the opinions of the best informed among us, that it will not produce the desired effect as respects the city of New-York. Within the city of New-York there is sufficient equity business to keep a court of chancery constantly sitting; and your memorialists may safely assert, that neither the chancellor, (being obliged to sit elsewhere, and occupied as he must be with business arising in other parts of the state,) nor a circuit judge having other duties to perform, can possibly dispatch the business of that court in the city of New-York, with the promptitude which is always desirable, and which its importance generally demands: Some relief therefore appears to be necessary, besides what is proposed by the new revised laws.
Your memorialists most respectfully pray that your honourable body would take the subject into consideration, and that you would provide by law for the appointment of a vice-chancellor, (other than the circuit judge) to reside in the city of New-York, who shall be an additional or assistant judge of the court of chancery, to the end that the chancellor of the state may be relieved in some measure, from the burden imposed upon him, already overwhelming; and that delays in that court, with which we are now threatened, may be prevented.
GEO. W. STRONG,
GEO F. TALMAN,
JAMES I ROOSEVELT, Jun.