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Obituary Sketch of John Welch.
Judge Welch were formed, and in these respects they controlled his conduct through life. He was affable, interesting, instructive and pleasing in social life, and, hence, an ever-welcome companion.
He was professionally successful from the start, and speedily acquired a large practice with such lawyers as those above named for competitors, which of itself is the highest evidence, not only of his great ability, but also of the fact that he had already completely mastered the fundamental elements and principles of the law, and had carefully systemized and stored them in his mind for ready use on emergency. These stood him well in hand, in the professional collisions that he had with lawyers celebrated for their learning and ability in the conduct and discussion of important cases that were constantly arising in those early times in this state. But few good law libraries were at that time to be found in the counties in which he practiced; and in the trial and argument of cases the lawyers engaged were thrown upon their knowledge of the law, with few, if any, precedents at hand to guide them. It was in these discussions upon the principles of the law, unaided by precedents, that his most striking power of analysis was fully developed; and this characteristic, supplemented by a logic that was inexorable and unanswerable, made him a most formidable antagonist in the trial of cases at the bar. And they were of incalculable value to him when he came to the bench. Perhaps no man in Ohio ever came to the bench better prepared to discharge its duties. He never made a decision based on wrong reasoning. If his premises were wrong, so would his conclusions be, but it was never the result of illogical deductions. These mental characteristics manifest themselves in the opinions he wrote in the Supreme Court, as found in volumes 16 to 31 inclusive of the State Reports.
In his opinions, which were generally terse, it will be seen that he relied almost exclusively upon the principles of the law logically applied to the case. Being entirely satisfied of the correctness of the propositions he laid down, he rarely supported them by a citation of cases. In the consultation room of the Supreme Court, he arrogated to himself nothing on account of his ability, knowledge and experience; on the contrary he was most tender and tolerant of the views of other members of the court. His habit was to give to a case under consideration, a careful, even pains-taking examination, and after listening to the views of his brethren on the points involved, his own were rapidly analyzed and arranged in his mind, and his conclusions with the reasons on which they rested were strongly and clearly announced, and he was hen ready to vote in accordance with his convictions. If his brethren concurred in his views, the case was at once decided. If they did not concur, he was inclined to leave them to debate matters among themselves, while he turned his attention to the solution of some mathematical problem, of which mental exercise he was very fond; and when
Obituary Sketch of John Welch.
they had agreed or disagreed, as the case might be, between themselves, it was known before the vote was taken what the result would be, for Judge Welch never changed after he had once deliberately formed an opinion. If in the minority, he but rarely let his dissent appear in the reports; and never did so except from a sense of duty to principle and the cause of justice, of which, at all times, he was an able champion and defender. No man ever sat in our Supreme Court who was truer to his convictions of right and justice than Judge Welch, as is unmistakably manifested in his published opinions, which are monuments of his learning, ability and perspicacity.
After he left the supreme bench, he again entered into the practice at Athens, but the labor of preparing cases had become irksome and distasteful to him, and he threw that part of the work on his junior; when the case was prepared and the facts presented, his judgment as to the result was well-nigh infallible.
In 1887 he published his " Index-Digest of Ohio Decisions," which is of incalculable value to the judiciary and profession, and is, in itself, a proof of his laborious habits, his clearness of perception and his power of analysis. He had also prepared a supplement to his digest which has been published since his death, so that his usefulness to his profession ended only with his life.
He was an eminently sincere, truthful and honest man. He was not a member of any church, because he did not accept churchmen's theories, and he could not be a hypocrite.
In whatever position in life Judge Welch was placed, whether public or private, he conscientiously, faithfully and bravely discharged all the duties required of him, and his memory should be revered by the profession as a lover and expounder of the law, and by all as a lover of his family, his race and his country.
Your committee respectfully ask that this Court will order this memorial to be entered in the Journal of the Court, and published in the forthcoming volume of the reports, as a testimonial of its respect and esteem for the memory of the deceased.
W. J. GILMORE, Chairman,
W. A. HUTCHINS,
Wм. B. LOOMIS,
A biographical sketch of the late Judge RANNEY is in preparation by a committee of the bar appointed by the Supreme Court. It will appear in the next volume of the Ohio State Reports.