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wished to obtain legislative action upon, and I was mindful of the fact that the endorsement of the Association would carry some weight—at least, I thought it would. I presented it
, to the proper committee of the Legislature, and was advised not to present it as coming from the Association, because it would then be at once regarded with suspicion, that it would be thought that the lawyers had some "cat in the meal-tub,” and were trying to strangle the rights of the people of Virginia by some measure which they had considered carefully beforehand, but which the Legislature did not understand. Acting upon this suggestion, I said nothing about the Association, but introduced it to the Assembly on its own merits, and it was promptly passed by both branches. Therefore, I say that if there is anything in the measure to-day, the recommendation of the Association would be death to the measure when it came before the Legislature, and consequently I see no harm that can come, except to the measure itself, from such action; and as its proponents and patrons request us to act, I think we will be taking
I no radical steps in giving it our approbation at this stage, or dropping it into the depths.
Mr. Jackson Guy, of Richmond : Mr. President, I cannot help feeling that if the Association adopts the resolution which has been offered, it will be hasty action. Our deliberations should certainly have the force of due consideration, and of some perfect need and necessity behind them. We are dealing professedly with something which is an experiment. I feel myself totally incompetent to judge of its merits, either for good or for bad. But I do feel, sir, an increasing hesitation to give my voice, and particularly the voice of this influential and dignified body of our State, to some measure of purely untried expediency. This plan of dealing with land titles, which must be a total revolution in everything we have been accustomed to, has been introduced, our friend informs us, in five States of the Union in the last five or ten years; but those are such States as are adapted to the making of such experiments.
I hardly think that old Virginia, with its conservatism, is prepared to take any such step. We were told, sir, in the
delightful address we had from you on yesterday, that the State of Massachusetts, which is the leader in the adoption of the Torrens System, has wealth surpassing anything we have in Virginia. They can afford experiments; their experiments may succeed or they may fail, and it will not hurt them.
But what impresses me is, as Mr. Massie has just informed 11s, that under the Torrens System a negotiation may be effected with real estate without publicity. That, sir, constitutes the crowning objection to the system, in the beginning, certainly, to
I will undertake to say that no one can controvert the proposition that all of our economic laws dealing with real estate and with tangible personal property are based upon the supposition that the party who is in possession of such property is the owner of that property, and that as such it constitutes a basis of credit for him, and that any one who deals with the party who is in possession is entitled to assume that that party owns that property, unless what? Unless the public records of the judicial division of the State in which the
property is situated discloses to the public that there is a lien upon it. Now, sir, it seems to me that the Virginia Bar Association, in going to the Legislature with it, must be conceded the slight consideration we have given to this subject, and presuming to advise a total change in all our laws on the subject of the registry of lands, would be doing a thing which we should hesitate some time before we attempt to do.
I shall be very glad to see the Torrens System ventilated in this State, its merits and demerits discussed, and I think we would be imprudent and hasty and subject to criticism ourselves, if we, with the little we know about it, advise the Legislature to incorporate it into our system of laws and subvert all that we have had during the ages on the subject of liens on property.
Mr. John S. Barbour, of Culpeper: Mr. President, I am inclined to favor the Torrens System, but I certainly sympathize with those gentlemen who say that they do not know enough about it now to endorse it. In other words, when I endorse anything, I want to know what I am endorsing. A bill
might be drawn establishing the Torrens System which we all might be willing to support, and at the same time another bill might be drawn establishing it which none of us might be willing to support. Therefore, I think it wise that before the
Association endorses it, we ought to have a little more consideration of what we are endorsing. It seems to me that the way arrive at that is to have something definite before the Association, something setting out the details of this measure, so that we can know what we are acting on. We might recommend this resolution, and the General Assembly might adopt something that might be called the Torrens System, but totally at variance with the idea of the Association in adopting this measure. I would, therefore, suggest that this matter be referred to a committee for the purpose of drawing a bill, with directions to report to our next meeting, and to that end I offer this resolution, as a substitute for the resolution offered by the gentleman from Alexandria :
Resolved, That a committee be appointed to draft a bill looking to the establishment of the Torrens System in Virginia, and report the same to the next meeting of this Association for its approval or disapproval.
Mr. John M. Johnson: Mr. President, the resolution I have offered simply approves the principles of the Torrens System. I would not, as a member of this Association, like to endorse any specific measure, because it might not be a measure which would meet the difficulties which the Torrens System proposes to remedy. This resolution of mine is about as conservative a measure as this body can pass on this subject. It is simply a new departure, it is an experiment, and I am not one of those who believe that anything new is bound to be injurious. I am in favor of this, because I think it will remedy a great evil in our section of the State. The resolution provides that the Legislature may put this system into effect in such portions of the State as may be desirable or as may wish relief. I, for one, speaking for my district, would say that Alexandria is willing to make the experiment for the benefit of the State at
large. With this resolution we simply express that we believe that the principles of the Torens System are such that they can be put in the form of legislation which will remedy great evils not only in this section of the State, as we are informed by a gentleman here, but also in the lower portions, such as that which I hail from. Therefore, I do not want any specific measure recommended by this Bar Association, and I would
I simply want to recommend the principles of the system, and let the Judiciary Committee, or other appropriate committee of the Legislature, work it out and present, as their work, the details and particulars of such a bill.
Mr. A. W. Patterson, of Richmond: Mr. President, I fully concur in the views expressed by the member who has just taken his seat.
I, for one, would be opposed to committing myself to any particular measure that might be submitted here, with the limited time at our disposal for considering such a measure. I think our recommendation would have more force in the form of the resolution of the gentleman from Alexandria, than in the form proposed by the gentleman from Culpeper. As has been already stated, anything emanating from this body seems to be rejected by the Legislature, and if we leave something to their discretion, the system is more likely to be adopted; if we simply adopt the general principles of this Torrens System and leave the details to be worked out in their discretion, I think they will be more apt to take hold of it and make it their own. It would be better, besides, to have such a measure adopted as may be needed in any section of the State, than for us to go to them with some particular bill.
As to the objection urged by one or two of my friends here, that we are not sufficiently familiar with the Torrens System to take any action upon it at all at this time, I would like to say that I have listened attentively to, and read with care, the several reports and speeches addressed to the Association on this subject and have been greatly impressed by them. Since the subject has been introduced here, I have noticed that a number of magazines and periodicals that come to my office have paid special attention to this matter. A number of very intelli
gent and able articles have appeared on the subject, and the study of those articles enlightened me very much, and I had hoped that those articles had come to the attention of the members of the Association and that they had examined them and would be prepared to act at this time. I have noticed that in those States where the system has been adopted and in force for a number of years, the people seem to be very much pleased with it; and in two States where legal objections were made and sustained, the Legislatures had become so much in love with the system that they at once went to work to remedy the objections and have rectified the faults. Several years of working under this new system and testing it have only served to fasten it in the affections of the people; they regard it as a good thing, and regard it as a long step forward in our practical civilization. I believe that any suggestion in those States now to abolish that system, or to take any step backward, would be met with resentment. I do hope that there will be no further delay in this matter among us.
Mr. W. M. Lile, of University of Virginia: Mr. President, if the Torrens System possesses the features referred to by my friend, Mr. Guy—that it encourages pocket titles and secret liens-I have been very much misinformed on the subject, and I heartily concur with him that the Association should vote down the system if it has anything of that sort. I should like to know from Mr. Massie if it is true that the Torrens System is open
to objections of that sort and that the public is likely to be misled.
Mr. Massie: Mr. Chairman, I will make this reply. Every transaction intended actually to pass title to real estate under the Torrens System must be noted upon a certificate such I hold in my hand, which is called the “Duplicate Certificate,” and which the owner keeps himself, and must also be noted upon an . exact copy of this certificate which is recorded in the office of the Register. In that respect there can be no transaction with real estate without publicity. But if I am the owner of real estate registered under