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TWENTY-FIFTH ANNUAL MEETING
MARYLAND STATE BAR ASSOCIATION
HOTEL CHELSEA. ATLANTIC City. N. J.
JUNE 24, 25, 26, 1920.
June 24, 1920. The first session of the Twenty-fifth Annual Meeting of the Maryland State Bar Association was called to order at 10 o'clock A. M. by the President, Morris A. Soper.
The President: Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to call you together into this annual meeting of the Bar Association of the State of Maryland, and it is my pleasure also to say officially, the one word, welcome, that we have all been exchanging with each other for the last ten or twelve hours.
The Secretary of this Association tells me, although I knew it already, that the unbroken custom is for the President of the Association to make an address. It is called an annual address, although only made once. As a conservative man I am going to follow the unbroken custom. It is also true that invariably in the past the President's address has been much too long I shall also follow that precedent.
: This particular address has been written on the subject of :: Judicial Administration in Maryland.
JUDICIAL ADMINISTRATION IN MARYLAND.
By MORRIS A. SOPER. Gentlemen of the Maryland State Bar Association, Ladies and
Gentlemen: Problems of administration of government in this country have become increasingly more prominent and urgent. The broad extension of the field of operation and the establishment of numerous agencies, boards and commissions, have been accomplished by so great a complexity of public business as to compel the serious study of questions of efficiency and economy in adıninistration. The public mind was first directed in this respect to our municipal governments. More than thirty years ago Bryce characterized our cities as “America's greatest failure in government.” This rebuke was only too well deserved. During the last generation, however, there has been great improvement in this respect, and the government of our cities has been placed, for the most part, upon a sound and business-like basis.
Those of us who can look back over twenty-five or more years of active business life will remember the agitation in Baltimore which preceded and culminated in the new Charter of 1898. Our city government had been formed, as had that of most other American cities, on the same general plan as the Federal and State governments. The whole was deeply impressed with the theory of Montesquieu, generally accepted in this country, that the powers of government are three-fold, and should be allotted to three great departments, the legislative, the executive and the judiciary, each of which should have exclusive charge of its own domain. Without stopping to comment upon the inaccuracies of this theory, we may note as one result, a lack of concentration of responsibility and power, and an absence of efficiency in the government of our municipalities. It was a great step forward when we centered the responsibility upon the executive, and, ignoring the traditional belief that legislative and executive powers should be entirely separate, imposed upon the chief executive of the city the duty to prepare a budget, over which the legislative department has but little control.
It is no longer true that the worst examples of government in this country are found in the cities. It would be more nearly true to make this same observation in regard to the administration of State governments in America. And just as the attention of the people was formerly drawn to the defects of city government, now it is centered upon the deficiencies of State government, and throughout the country efforts are being made, by voluntary bodies, legislative commissions, and constitutional conventions, to apply the same principles of efficiency and economy that have been successful in our cities to the government of our States. In many respects the government of the State is essentially municipal in character. Many of the important functions of government are, of course, committed by the States to the Federal government, and while there may not be the same uniformity in the State as there is in a great city, nevertheless the solution of many of the problems of municipal government will apply equally well to the affairs of the State.
Perhaps the most vigorous single agency working to the reform of city government in this country has been the National Municipal League, and much of the progress which has been made has been due to its efforts in the past in seeking to find a model for city government. Many of its ideals are now accomplished facts. Without abandoning its work in this: field, it has now turned its attention to problems of State ad. ministration. At its annual convention in December, 1919, it resolved to devote a large part of its work for the ensuing year to the prepartion of a model State Constitution. But the field of endeavor has not been limited merely to theorists: and reformers. Constitutional conventions have been held in a number of important States, notably New York, Massachu. setts and Ohio. A constitutional convention in Illinois is now studying the subject deliberately and painstakingly through a series of commissions, to each of which is committed a special branch of the work. It is generally agreed that there must be a reduction in the number of executive departments, a regrouping of administrative services, and a concentration of power and responsibility in the Governor, in analogy with the work that has already been done in municipal organization and in the organization of the world of industry. The legis-lative department is also under investigation; and it has been suggested that there is no more reason for two houses in the Legislature of the State, than for two branches of the City Council. In each case carelessness in legislation and a divided responsibility are the results. Preliminary steps of investigation for a general reorganization have also been taken in various parts of the country through the creation of efficiency and economy commissions in various States, notably Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa and Connecticut. In our own State in 1915, when a startling deficiency in the State revenues was discovered, due almost entirely to the inefficient organization of the State government, the Goodnow Commission was appointed, and its report became the basis of a Constitutional amendment by which the principles of the budget system were adopted.