Message of Governor T.M. Campbell to the first called session of the thirtieth legislature of Texas: together with the proclamation of the Governor convening the legislature in extra-ordinary session. Page: 5 of 8
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too much 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 in the charge in murder
cases, the most intelligent man is 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 understoodl ) tlhe court and the
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
vou in your wisdom may devise, I respectfully suggest:
1. That you further limit jury exemptions and define and limit
the cause for which the trial judge may, in exercise of his discretion,
grant excuses for 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 copy of
the statute applicable to the offense charged and the facts of the case.
The enactment of laws embodying these views would, I believe, add
more certainty to the law's enforcement, expedite trials, furnish ample
protection to the innocent, discontinue the almost universal practice
of appealing ever-thing, and prevent so many reversals and new trials.
It is with confidence further suggested that these reforms, if adopted,
would result in decreasing the number of our trial courts, clear the
dockets promptly and save the State and counties a large per cent of
the tremendous sum now expended in efforts to enforce our criminal
As in criminal cases, probably more than half the civil suits tried
and appealed are reversed and remanded for new trials, and many
new trials are granted by trial courts on account of errors in the courts
charge to the jury. Cost to litigants are increased, delays and unjust
burdens are laid upon those forced to invoke the aid of the courts
to secure their rights under the Constitution and laws. The expense
incurred by the counties for juries and other incidental expenses in
the numerous trials of the same cases are heavy, and have attracted
the attention of the people.
It seems to me that an effort should be made to give the relief
demanded, and as tending in that direction I recommend to the Legislature
the enactment of laws authorizing verdicts to be returned in
trial of civil cases in the district courts by the concurrence of nine
members of the jury, and also requiring trial judges to-prepare their
instructions to the jury in civil cases and submit the same to the parties
or to counsel on both sides of' the case before argument begins;
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Campbell, Thomas Mitchell. Message of Governor T.M. Campbell to the first called session of the thirtieth legislature of Texas: together with the proclamation of the Governor convening the legislature in extra-ordinary session., book, April 17, 1907; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth5860/m1/5/: accessed April 23, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .