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Secretary instructed to cast the ballot of the Association for the officers named.
The President: The report of the Special Committee on the Torrens System is now to be submitted. Mr. Massie is Chairman of that committee.
Mr. Eugene C. Massie: Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Association: I shall detain you but a few minutes in making this report. Three years ago,
when a resolution was offered in this place for the appointment of a special committee to investigate this subject and report to the Association, it attracted very little attention. In 1900, the committee made its first report. In February, 1901, a joint resolution was passed by the General Assembly of Virginia, appointing a committee of three to draft a bill for its consideration. In August, 1901, your committee made its second report; and then it was enlarged and the new committee directed to confer with the Judiciary Committee of the Constitutional Convention and to take such steps as might seem proper to them. That committee discharged the duties imposed upon it, and, in consequence of its action, we now have in our new Constitution:
"Sec. 100. The General Assembly shall have power to establish such court or courts of land registration -as it may deem proper for the administration of any law it may adopt for the purpose of the settlement, registration, transfer or assurance of titles to land in the State or any part thereof."
We thus now have in our fundamental law a provision for the establishment and administration of such a system as may hereafter be adopted by the General Assembly.
The Torrens System has been adopted and is now in operation in five States of the Union--Illinois, California, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Oregon. It is pending in the District of Columbia and seven States, in which some legislative action either has already been taken or is proposed, to-wit: Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, Rhode Island, Virginia, Wisconsin and Michi. gan. It has been under discussion in the Bar Associations of nine States, to-wit: Maine, Missouri, New Mexico, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.
At our last meeting, when this matter was up for discussion, the most interesting point was that concerning due process of law, and some of the gentlemen who spoke on that occasion expressed grave doubts as to whether any system could be devised that would meet the requirements of the Federal and State Constitutions in that regard. These questions have been answered by the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, and the case went to the Supreme Court of the United States, where the decision was affirmed; and, more recently, they were answered by the Supreme Court of Minnesota. With your permission, I will read an extract from the Minnesota decision in the case of State vs. Westfall, reported in 89 Northwestern Reporter, page 175; also Central Law Journal, Vol. 15, page 290:
"Actions and proceedings to conclusively establish rights and titles against all claimants and parties, known and unknown, are not novelties in our jurisprudence, for decrees probating wills, distributing estates of deceased persons, quieting title to real estate against unknown heirs and unknown parties, have been repeatedly held to be conclusive on the whole world. It is now the settled doctrine of this court that the District Courts of this State may be clothed with full power to inquire into and conclusively adjudicate the state of the title of all land within their respective jurisdictions, after actual notice to all of the known claimants within the jurisdiction of the court, and constructive notice by publication of the summons to all other persons or parties, whether known or unknown, having or appearing to have some interest in or claim thereto. ceeding provided for by the act in question is such an one. It is substantially one in rem, the subject matter of which is the state of the title of land within the jurisdiction of the court, and the provisions of the act for the serving the summons and giving notice of the pendency of the proceedings are full and complete, and satisfy both the State and Federal Constitutions. To hold otherwise would be to hold that the courts of this State
cannot in any manner acquire jurisdiction to clear and quiet the title to real estate by a decree binding all interests and all persons or parties, known or unknown, for the provisions of this act are as full and complete as to giving notice to all interested parties as it is reasonably possible to make them.”
This subject has now been for three years before this Association, and, while action has been taken from time to time upon it, no final action has yet been taken by this Association. It remains to be seen at this meeting whether, after the discussion we have had, and after the years of labor and study and investigation, the Association is now prepared to act. But whether the Association acts or not, I must express the conviction that it will not be long before we have upon our statute books a comprehensive act for the establishment and administration of this Torrens System. Time and again you have had before you, presented in various ways, the advantages which would accrue and the benefits which would be conferred by the system upon all the people of our Commonwealth, and particularly those who own lands; and I trust it may be the pleasure of the Association at this time to take final action and to express its cordial approval of the work of its committee and of the general principles of the Torrens System.
A Member: What does the committee recommend that the Legislature should pass such an act ?
Mr. Massie: Yes, sir. I did not like to offer the resolution, for fear I should be considered as riding a hobby. I would prefer that the resolution should come from some other member of the Association. I am now engaged in preparing an act which I shall present to the next session of the Legislature. If this Association will endorse the action of the committee up to this time, and will declare its approval of the system and recommend the passage of some proper act by the Legislature, I think that is all that can now be done.
Mr. Willis B. Smith, of Richmond: Mr. President, I would suggest, for the consideration of the Association, that we are going a little too fast.
As I understand it, while some very few States have adopted the Torrens System, as a matter of fact it is distinctly adopted and in use in very small portions of those States, and it is met by all sorts of questions. Our people are more conservative than the people of other States, and I think we are rushing too fast.
The President: I would suggest to the gentleman that there is nothing before the Association just now, and probably he had better defer his remarks until a resolution is submitted.
Mr. John M. Johnson, of Alexandria : Mr. President, I offer the following resolution:
Resolved, That it is the sense of the Virginia State Bar Association that the General Assembly of Virginia should enact the proper legislation for the establishment of the Torrens System in Virginia, or in such portions thereof as it may deem wise and proper at this time.
The President: This resolution is before the Association for consideration.
Mr. Willis B. Smith: Mr. President, I did not propose to discuss this matter especially. I just rose to say that I thought we were rushing too fast. I do not know very much about this system, but I have heard a great deal of it from its advocates, and it seems to me that we are rushing too fast, because our resolution ought to have influence with the Legislature, and I don't believe that one in ten of this body is prepared to say what particular act he would recommend. We will be going before the Legislature and asking them to do this thing, when, from what I hear from the advocates of the system, it is stiil, in probably ninety-nine one-hundredths of the United States, an untried experiment.
Mr. W. M. McAllister, of Warm Springs: Mr. President, I feel convinced that the adoption of such legislation would be beneficial to our section of the State, but I want to call attention
again to the statements I made at the last meeting of the Association. There is nothing so timid as a buyer. We have in this section vast tracts of undeveloped property, the titles to which are in confusion, and the attempt to straighten these titles out by chancery proceedings will drive prospective buyers off. We need something here to give the purchaser a title that he can rely on, and this Torrens System will do that and enable us to develop this undeveloped part of our State.
Judge George L. Christian, of Richmond: Mr. President, it seems to me that this matter has been before the Association long enough for the members to become acquainted with it, and if they are not acquainted with it, it is their misfortune or their fault. Several gentlemen, amply capable to perform that duty, have examined into this matter and have recominended the system to the Association for two or three years. Surely the Association cannot do any especial injury by recommending this system to be applied in such parts of the State as the General Assembly may deem best. It seems to me that we ought to dispose of this matter, by recommending it or by dropping it entirely. I am in favor of recommending that the General Assembly may establish it in such parts of the State as it may be desired. I do not believe that can do any harm, and it may do a great deal of good, and for that reason I second the resolution.
Mr. Thomas N. Williams, of Clarksville: Mr. President, I hope some gentleman will explain this matter more particularly. I am not sufficiently posted to vote on it. I was not at the last meeting, and am not familiar with it, and I hope some gentleman will explain it.
The President: I would remind the gentleman that the reports of the Association for the last two or three years contain a pretty full account of this matter, and there was quite a consideration of it at the last meeting at the White Sulphur. Still, if any one wishes to explain, or will explain, the salient