members and the public.
In it he was assisted by Judge Hugh Holmes
, and it contained only 336 pages.
But about ten years later, in 1826, he rendered a larger and greater service to the State
by the publication of a second volume, of 680 pages, with an index to both volumes.
About 1819, the general court came to a resolution that its decisions should be preserved in a manuscript volume, and should show the grounds on which they were made.
The preparation of this volume devolved upon Judge Brockenbrough
, as he resided in Richmond
, where the records of the court were kept, and out of these facts grew his second printed volume of reports, in 1826.
The wonder is how such an important matter was so long neglected.
The general court was truly an imposing and august tribunal.
It had supreme appellate jurisdiction in criminal cases, and surely the profession and the public were entitled to reports of its decisions.
It was composed of all the judges of the circuit courts, but only a quorum need attend its sessions.
When the number of circuits was considerably increased, there was an understanding between the judges that one-half should attend one session and the other half another, so as to make sure of a quorum; but any judge could, if he chose, attend a session held by the half to which he did not belong.
The number holding a court, therefore, varied very much, both according to the number of circuits in the State
and the number of the judges who elected to be present.
There were two sessions each year.
I remember this court very well, and have seen it in session with fifteen or more members, some of whom would have honored and graced the bench of our Supreme Court, to which they were, like Brockenbrough
, sometimes elevated.
The senior judge present at any session presided.
I once knew nearly, if not quite, all of its members.
The accomplished James Lyons
honored me with invitations to the elegant dinners which he used to give them.
I was in their court-room the afternoon when the eminent Benjamin Watkins Leigh
obtained from them the bailing of the unfortunate young Simms
, who so unnecessarily shot and killed Prof. John A. G. Davis
, chairman of the Faculty of the University of Virginia.
I have always thought that the manner of that great advocate towards the court on that occasion was rather imperious.
The court occupied that room in the Capitol
whose floor gave way with such tragic consequences on the 28th of April, 1870.
It was the decisions of the court above referred to which Judge Brockenbrough
reported, commencing with the June term, 1815, and ending with the June term, 1826.