Message of Governor T.M. Campbell to the thirtieth legislature of Texas, to which is appended the State Democratic Platform adopted at Dallas, Texas, August 13, 1906. Page: 15 of 27
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AND CRIMINAL PROCEDURE.
The people demand through the platform such legislation as will
simplify the procedure in both civil and criminal trials, and also recommend
reforms in our jury system.
Employing substantially the same language used by me in discussing
this subject on former occasions, I respectfully urge the reforms
The present complex and cumbersome procedure is a shield to the
criminal, defeats justice, increases the number of our courts, and adds
unnecessary burdens upon the taxpayers. Perplexing technicalities
encourage crime, employ the time of the courts to no useful end and
the people pay the costs. A rigid enforcement of all the laws is essential
to the social well-being and demanded as the only safe guarantee of life.
liberty and property. All laws can be enforced and should be enforced
fearlessly, impartially and without respect to locality or persons. To
longer tolerate a system of technical obstacles behind which murderers
and rogues may barricade themselves and defy the laws, would be a
reflection upon the wisdom if not the sincerity of our statesmanship.
To say that crime can run rampant in Texas and that our laws can not
be enforced is to admit that we are incapable of self-government. That
our law-abiding citizenship is growing impatient and restless at the
law's delays and the uncertainty of punishment for crime can not be
denied. That there is just grounds for such discontent must be conceded.
There is too much machinery in our criminal trials, too much
literature and too many refinements in the court's charge to the jury,
and too many loopholes through which criminals may escape. When
the court's charge in a criminal case is heard, especially the charge in
murder cases, the most intelligent'citizen is often made to wonder how
any man is ever punished for crime. How is it possible for any juror,
not trained in the law, to ever measure the guilt or innocence of an
accused person by rules and distinctions not always understood by the
courts and lawyers themselves. Is it a surprise that juries disagree,
that criminals go unwhipt of justice, that new trials are forced, cases
reversed by the appellate courts and that the mob spirit is rife in Texas?
The judges are not at fault, the jurors are not always to blame, the main
difficulty is in the system. A fair and impartial trial upon the law
and the facts without tangled and technical rules should be accorded
the accused, and when this is done, then, and not until then, so many
trials and delays can be avoided and substantial justice may with some
reason be expected in all cases.
Now, then, without intending to suggest a limit to the remedies which
you in vour wisdom may devise, I respectfully suggest:
1. That you further limit jury exemptions and define and limit the
causes for which the trial judge may in the exercise of his discretion
grant excuses to men drawn for jury service.
2. Either prescribe by statute a common sense form of charge for
the jury in every criminal case of the grade of felony, or require such
charge to embrace only the nature of the accusation and a cony of the
statutes applicable to the offense charged and the facts of the case.
The enactment of laws embodying these views, would, I believe, add
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Campbell, Thomas Mitchell. Message of Governor T.M. Campbell to the thirtieth legislature of Texas, to which is appended the State Democratic Platform adopted at Dallas, Texas, August 13, 1906., book, January 16, 1907; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth5859/m1/15/: accessed July 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .