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CSEMEGI, KARL:

President of the Hungarian Supreme Court of Judicature; born in Csongrad May 3, 1826; died March 18, 1899. Csemegi received his early education in the schools of Szegedin and Budapest. By order of Count Elemer Batthyanyi he organized a battalion of infantry in the Hungarian war of independence of 1848, at the head of which he fought throughout the whole war. After the conclusion of the campaign in the Bácska and Banát districts, he laid down his arms at Lugos, and as punishment was placed in an Austrian regiment, but was soon released on account of ill health. During the absolutist era he had a large law-office in Arad, but was compelled by the chicanery of Austrian officials to transfer it to Butyin in Rumania.

After the restoration of the former constitution, the Hungarian minister of justice, Balthasar Horvath, called him into the ministry, where a wide field presented itself for the employment of his ability. From ministerial secretary he became state secretary, in which capacity he proposed and codified chapter iv. of the laws of 1869, on the legal power and authority of judges. The incorporation of the judiciary of Fiume with that of Hungary was also his work. His epoch-making achievement in the judicial administration of Hungary was, however, the codification of the criminal law on a modern basis. Through this work he succeeded in fundamentally improving legal procedure in Hungary. Especially important was the comprehensive statement which he annexed to the code explaining the basic principles that underlie it, which statement contains a mass of legal knowledge still of much value. His influence left a distinct impress on the science of criminology, which developed rapidly after the adoption of his code.

Csemegi became president of the Supreme Court in 1879, and founded the Society of Hungarian Jurists, which to-day has among its members the most eminent jurists of modern Hungary. He was decorated with the Cross of the Order of St. Stephan of Hungary in 1878, and in 1882 became privy councilor. Twelve years later he resigned his position as president of the Supreme Court. He was granted the honorary degree of LL.D. by the juridical faculty of the University of Budapest in 1896.

Csemegi was a convert to Christianity. His literary work includes: "A Jogvesztés Elmélete és az Államjog," Budapest, 1872; "A Magyar Bünvádi Eljárás Szervezetének Indokai," Budapest, 1882; "Magyar Bünvádi Eljárás a Törvényszékek Elött," Budapest, 1883; "Az Egyházi Holtkéz," Budapest, 1897. The French government had the statement of principles which he subjoined to the Hungarian criminal code translated into French under the title "Code Pénal Hongrois des Crimes et des Délits," Paris, 1885.

Bibliography:
  • Pester Lloyd, March 19, 1899;
  • Pesti Naplŏ, same date;
  • Vasarnapi Ujsag, March, 1899.
S.M. W.
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