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accused by anybody of haste. I do not know what this "haste” can be, unless you go by the standard of the old Virginia creeper, a beautiful vine and one that we all admire, it is truebut now we cover our houses rather with the Boston ivy. Because Massachusetts is richer than we, are we to sit in poverty forever and make no effort to take our place by her side? What is Virginia's position to be in the future? Is she to live forever in her past, and to be known always as “The Old Conservative" ? Unless we take our place where we belong, we will be placed where we do not belong and will not care to be.
So far as this act is concerned, I do not think it matters much whether this Association passes on it, or not, because the people of this State are behind it; they have had some information, if the members of this Association have not. Constantly I am approached by business men, who say: "I hope the Torrens Act will be passed.” And all over this State the people know that there may be some relief afforded to them if the Legislature will only grant it; and the Legislature knows that the people want it, and the Legislature is going to grant it.
Mr. Willis B. Smith: You said a little while ago that the Supreme Court of Massachusetts had sustained this act, and that that decision had been affirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States. Is it not a fact that the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States was on a technicality?
Mr. Massie: It was not decided on its merits, but the result of the decision is practically the same as if it had been decided on its merits. I could read you what Judge Jones, of the Massachusetts Court of Land Registration has to say on the subject, but I will not detain the Association any longer.
Mr. Willis B. Smith : Has the question as to its constitutionality which was raised in the Supreme Court of the United States ever been decided in any State? It stands just as it did last year, doesn't it?
Mr. Massie: It stands just as it did, yes, sir, so far as the Supreme Court of the United States is concerned, for no other
case has gone up to that court and none is likely to go; but the Supreme Court of Minnesota has passed upon it in an elaborate opinion, as already stated by me, in case of State vs. Westfall.
Mr. W. M. Lile: Mr. President, I would like to thank my friend for his very full and frank answer to my question. I get a number of law magazines, which have a good deal to say about this system, and I have been struck with the fact that I have never heard or read an adverse criticism of it. Every published article is in favor of it, and everywhere it has been adopted it has been very well received. Prima facie, therefore, it is a very good thing. I am heartily in favor of the movement. One thing that especially impresses me, and that I think has not been properly emphasized in the discussion, is the inethod it offers for quieting titles and assuring the owner a perfect title. Under our present system, if some one comes and turns us out of our house, we have the action of ejectment against him. If we are in possession and know of some particular, definite claim, we can go into equity. But suppose we know there are certain claims outstanding, or suppose we feel reasonably secure in our possession, and yet there are claims against us so shadowy and so uncertain that we cannot go into equity, either because we do not know who the claimants are or what the claim is, so that we cannot make our allegations as certain as the court would require. Under this system, a suit in rem, as it were, is brought, and the whole world is notified that this particular property is going through registry. I imagine the statute provides for the service of notice on persons interested, but the whole world is. notified, and when the owner gets a certificate he feels absolutely secure against everybody—against the Commonwealth for taxes and against the whole world. Again, the owner of real estate under the present system does not know what mine is under it and when it may explode; under the Torrens System there are no secret mines. We had had the same system for years in the matter of probation of wills; and when a railroad company wants a right of way, it goes along and deposits money in court and takes the
land away from the parties to whom it belongs. It seems to me that in this we are just carrying a little further very ancient and very just ideas.
I got upon my feet not so much to make an argument in favor of the Torrens System as to make an amendment to Mr. Barbour's resolution. I think if we want an act passed through the Legislature we should draft it. This discussion has already developed the fact that we are very much interested in the details of the thing, and if we vote without knowledge of the details, we are voting in the dark. If the resolution of my friend is adopted as offered, we should come back next year as much in the dark as we are to-day; none of us would have seen the report, none of us would have studied it. My motion is that when the report of the committee is completed, it shall be printed, and the Secretary be directed to send a copy of it to every member of this Association.
Mr. Barbour: That is a most admirable amendment and I accept it.
Mr. John T. Harris: Mr. President, I suggest that the report be sent out as soon as completed to the members of the Legislature, and if the Legislature chooses to consider the matter on that report, it can do so and act on it before the Association does, if it desires.
Mr. John M. Johnson: Mr. President, I do not imagine the bill will make it compulsory on any one to register his title; you can proceed under the old system if you desire, but any owner who wishes to register his title can do it; it is voluntary entirely. If we go into principles or details we will be at sea. I do not think this Bar Association can be gotten to approve the details of the bill it sent out. We come here and spend two or three days in social intercourse. We cannot consider the details of the measure, it is impossible. This resolution I have offered does not commit the Association to anything but the Torrens Land System. Something is needed to-day in certain localities which will be an improvement on the old system, and the Torrens System is the only system I am familiar with
for that purpose.
I commend to the attention of this Association an article written by one of the most prominent lawyers of Illinois, published in the American Law Review. We absolutely need some relief, and if any one can suggest anything more likely to afford that relief than the Torrens System, I wili join hands with him in recommending that to the Legislature. We simply recommend the system and let the committee of the Legislature attend to the details; it is their work, not our work; and any member of this body who has any particular matter to present to the Judiciary Committee of the Legislature can go there and present it. They have the time, they are not overburdened with work; let them do the work and present the bill as the wisdom of the committee of the Legislature of Virginia; and I am sure that those communities which desire this law will accept it gladly and willingly. What objection can any man see? We do not affect the city of Richmond. If the city of Richmond does not want this law, it need not have it; but if the city of Alexandria wants the system, under this law she can get it.
Mr. R. T. Barton: Mr. President, I have a suggestion to make, which I think might bring about some concurrence of action without much trouble. I asked Mr. Massie a question by which I did not intend to indicate that I was opposed to th: system. I asked him how far a creditor would be protected under this system. He replied that the creditor would be as much protected as he is under the present laws. I think he is mistaken, because under the present system one can refuse to trust a man who has overmortgaged his property. Of course, he runs the risk of trusting a man who is really overmortgaged, but has not put the deed on record. But we are not now considering the details of this proposed measure, and we cannot, even if the bill be drawn by the committee and brought before this body. We are not so constituted as to properly consider details; this body only considers general principles. But I would not be satisfied to recommend any bill adopting the Torrens System without having some opportunity to criticise the details, not before this body, but before the body that enacts it
into law. It seems to me that the practical way is to recommit this subject to the committee that has had charge of it; they are eminently fitted for it, and I believe that any bill they drew I would endorse without looking at it. I suggest now to recommit it to the committee, with instructions to draft and present to the Legislature a bill covering the whole ground, and to publish it, so that the members of the Association can call the attention of the Legislature to anything they object to. I believe by that we can accomplish our object and have it done all at once. I believe that when a matter has been before this. Association for four years, we might well take it for confessed; and I think it is rather late in the day to discuss the merits of a system which has been tried, the details of which alone might be subjects of discussion or objection, when we are not so constituted as to be able properly to consider details.
Mr. Johnson: I accept your amendment, subject to this: I want a statement from this Association commending the principles of the system.
Mr. Barton: Mr. President, it has been suggested that it is hardly practicable to get all of this committee together. Any action that any three of them may take I will follow blindly.
Mr. Barbour: Mr. President, I have no objection to the resolution offered by the gentleman from Winchester alone, but I do object to it with the addendum of the gentleman from Alexandria, because we are endorsing a pig in a bag—we do not. know what we are endorsing.
Mr. John T. Harris: Mr. President, I think the Association understands what it is endorsing, which is the general principles of the Torrens System, and it ought to be submitted to the Legislature now, because a general revision of our laws will soon take place.
Mr. Willis B. Smith: Mr. President, it seems to me that the Legislature would very probably treat with contempt the action of this body, if we came before it with a proposition which is substantially, "We don't know anything about this.