Reuben Hyde Walworth to W[illiam] T[ownsend] McCoun et al., 21 February 1829
February 21, 1829.
I have received yours of the 18th instant on the subject of a vice chancellor in the first circuit. Taking into consideration the present common law duties of the circuit judge, and the additional duty of hearing appeals from the surrogates in all cases of contested wills, both of real and personal estate, I am satisfied no individual can discharge those duties, and have any leisure to do the business of vice chancellor of that circuit, under the provisions of the revised statutes. Judging from the business before me, I should suppose nearly half the business of the court of chancery was from that circuit. If so, there will be sufficient to employ the vice chancellor constantly, without attending to any other duties; and the chancellor will still have sufficient business before him, and as much as he can get through with and do justice to the suitors. The business of this court as well as that of the supreme court, is constantly increasing, and has nearly doubled since the adoption of the new constitution. If the local business of the city of New-York can be disposed of before a vice chancellor, I think the chancellor can dispose of the business which will then come before him. But without some relief of that kind, the channels of justice must be blocked up. I have been actually sitting in court nearly half the time since my appointment, and for the residue of the time I have been engaged in the duties of my office from twelve to fifteen hours in a day.— With the exception of one night, I have not been able to retire to rest before two o’clock, for the last three weeks; and I still find the business of the court accumulating on my hands.
For these reasons I fully coincide with your views of the necessity and propriety of having a vice chancellor in New-York, who may devote his whole time to equity business. I think the system reported by the revisers, as amended and passed in the senate, the best that has been suggested. The only alteration I would propose, is to have the vice chancellor appointed immediately, so that he may, under a proper clause to be inserted in the law, be employed until the new system goes into operation, in hearing and deciding a part of the business now ready for a hearing before the chancellor. Without some provision of that kind many causes now pending cannot be decided under one or two years.
I am, gentlemen,
With respect, yours, &c.
R. HYDE WALWORTH.