January 13th marked the 120th anniversary of the death of State Senator Creed Haymond, likely one of the most brilliant individuals to ever serve in the California Legislature.
Haymond, a native of Virginia, served in the Senate from 1876-1879, but his most lasting legacy was a result of his earlier work as the Chairman of the California Code Commission from 1870 to 1872. It was during this time that Haymond and the other two members of the Commission (John H. McKune and John C. Burch) restructured the laws of California from a year-based system used up to that point to the code-based system we have used since.
Prior to the reorganization of the state laws, statutes were referred to by their chapter number (as in “Statutes of 1850, Chapter 6”, which created the office of Secretary of State). The major weakness of this ordering system was that laws relating to a single subject (like “toll bridges” or “the state militia”) might be spread throughout twenty different books of Statutes.
The new system of organization divided up the previously passed legislation (1850-1870) into four broad subject areas. Each of these subject areas (Political, Civil, Civil Procedure, and Penal) became a code. Each of these code books has grown since 1870, but none more than the Political Code.
Since 1872, the Political Code has grown so much that it has split into several newer codes, including the Education, Elections, Government, Harbors and Navigation, Military and Veteran, Public Resources, Revenue and Taxation, Streets and Highways, and the Vehicle Code.
Of the three members of the Code Revision Commission, contemporary accounts give the largest share of the credit to Haymond, who was rumored to have memorized nearly all of California’s statutes in order to accomplish the rewriting of the laws.
After his death, Assemblyman Grove Johnson noted that “Creed Haymond was a man whose like we will perhaps never see again. His virtues were many; his faults were few.”