Sec.12. Again, all these government corporations differ from incorporated business companies. In forming a town or city, many persons are brought into the corporation against their wishes or consent; because, in governments, all who live within certain prescribed bounds must come under the same laws; but of an incorporated business association, as of a common business partnership, none become members but by their own act or choice. There is another difference: The latter are what are called stock companies; and although they may be continued after the death of the first corporators, those who afterward come into the association, do so by becoming owners of the capital stock of those who preceded them. This latter difference will more clearly appear from the more particular description, elsewhere given, of the incorporated companies, and of the manner in which the stock is transferred. (Chap. XXIII, Sec.11—15.)
Judicial Department. Justices’ Courts.
Sec.1. Having seen how the legislative and executive departments of a state government are constituted, and how the laws are made and executed, the manner in which the local affairs of counties and towns are conducted, and the powers and duties of their respective officers; we proceed to describe the judicial department, the powers and duties of judicial officers, and the manner in which justice is administered.
Sec.2. It is the business of the legislature to determine what acts shall be deemed public offenses, or crimes, and to make laws for securing justice to the citizens in their dealings and general intercourse with each other; but to judge of and apply the laws; that is, to determine what the law is and whether it has been broken, and to fix the just measure of damage or of punishment, and to order such decision to be carried into effect, are duties which, as has been observed, have been wisely assigned to a separate and distinct department. (Chap. VIII. Sec.7.)
Sec.3. A government without some power to decide disputes, to award justice, and to punish crime according to the laws of the state, would not be complete. To allow every man to be his own judge in cases of supposed injury, and to redress his own wrongs, would endanger the rights of others. Justice is best secured to the citizens by establishing courts for the redress of injuries and the punishment of crimes; and that no person may suffer unjustly, it is provided that every person charged with crime or any other wrong, is entitled to a fair and impartial trial.
Sec.4. For the convenience of persons who may be compelled to seek relief at law, courts are established in every town. These are courts of the lowest grade, and are called justices’ courts, being held by justices of the peace who are, in most of the states, elected by the people of the several towns. They are called the lowest courts, because they have jurisdiction only in cases in which the smallest sums or damages are claimed, or in which only the lowest offenses are tried. The word jurisdiction is from the Latin jus, law, or juris, of the law, and dictio, a pronouncing or speaking. Hence the jurisdiction of a court means its power to pronounce the law.