Joseph Franklin Rutherford - Convicted and Jailed on 4 counts

by unclebruce 0 Replies latest jw friends

  • unclebruce

    From Randy Watters site: "Watchers of the Watchtower World"

    Those of my fellow "television" generation may wish to scroll down to the summary in red.

    unclebruce (who can't turn red off class).


    Parts 1-3

    Part 1: Trial of JFR et al References for the following: Trial Transcript, Pages 64-71, Sect. 190-213.

    The Society has often spoken of the trial of Joseph F. Rutherford and the other Officers as a “Railroad” job in reference to the speed and rush to judgment to convict the Society’s officers and end the all important work of the FDS. In years past, this has been characterized as fulfilling Bible prophecy with respect to the Two Witnesses spoken of in Revelation who were killed and then came back to life.

    The visions planted in many JW minds is that the seven Officers of the Society were wrongly accused, drug off in the middle of the night by jack-booted police, and quickly tried before some squint-eyed magistrate who heard only the Government testimony, then in haste banged down the gavel pronouncing guilt on these innocent men. This series will go through this trial and see what happened. Here are the questions that will be addressed:

    1. Was the trial a rush to judgment “Railroad Job”?
    2. What was the Government’s allegations?
    3. Did the Government have any cause of action, or a meritorious case?
    4. Did the Government take time to investigate and prepare?
    5. Were the Defendants given opportunity to retain counsel?
    6. Were the Defendants able to delay the case to effect proper preparation?
    7. Were the Defendants given consideration and leeway by the Court?
    8. Did the Defendants make a good case?
    9. What were the arguments of each side?
    10. Was this a Trial by Jury? Defendants:

    Joseph F. Rutherford
    William E. Van Amburgh,
    Robert J. Martin
    Frederick H. Robinson
    George H. Fisher
    Clayton P. Woodworth
    Giovanni DeCecca
    Robert H. Hirsh
    A. Hugh MacMillan A Railroad Job? - Here are the Initial Sequence of Events: Originally, there were 9 Officers Indicted by the US Government, United States District Court, Eastern District of New York. The charges were filed May 6, 1918. The first arraignment of Rutherford, VanAmburgh, DeCecca, MacMillan, Martin, and Robinson (only 6 Officers) took place May 8, 1918 before Judge Garvin. Each Defendant plead Not Guilty. Bail fixed at $2,500 for each Defendant. Each Defendant remanded to give bail and case adjourned to May 15th, 1918.

    On May 9, 1918 Defendants Fisher, and Woodworth were arraigned (2 more Officers). Each plead Not Guilty with leave to withdraw same and Demur (delay) by May 15th, 1918. Bail was fixed at $2,500 each. Defendants request to Demur until may 15th, 1918 was granted. On May 14th, 1918 Defendant Hirsh was arraigned and lead Not Guilty (last of the 9 Officers). Bail fixed at $1,000. Case for call may 15th, 1918.

    Total of nine recognizances filed for all. May 15th, 1918: before Judge Chatfield, all nine Defendants present with counsel except Hirsh. Case adjourned until June 3, 1918 for call. Defendants ordered to return on bonds.

    Hirsh appeared separately on May 15, 1918 before Judge Garvin. Ordered to return June 3, 1918 on his bond. June 1, 1918: Petitions of Defendants and Certificates of attorneys for designation of another Judge filed. Certificate of Judge Garvin filed.

    June 3, 1918: Before Judge Garvin case called. Defendants present. Case referred to Judge Chatfield. Before Judge Chatfield a;; Defendants and counsel present. Defendants ordered to return on bonds June 4, 1918.

    June 4, 1918: Before Judge Chatfield. All Defendants present. Defendants asked leave to WITHDRAW their pleas and to Demur. Case transferred to Judge Howe for hearing. Before Judge Howe: Case called, all Defendants present. Attorney for the United States moves to dismiss indictment against Hirsh. Attorneys for the other Defendants objects!. Motion granted and indictment against Hirsh dismissed. Attorneys for other 8 Defendants ask leave to WITHDRAW pleas and to Demur. Attorney for the US objects. Defense Motion granted. Defendants move to have certain papers taken under Search Warrant returned and move for Bill of Particulars. Notice of motions and Affidavits filed. Motions argued and granted as to fist and ninth requests, all other denied.

    Defendants re-enter their plea of Not Guilty. US Attorney moves for trial. Defendants attorneys (more than one defense attorney by the way) move for adjournment and case set for trial at 2PM, June 5, 1918. June 5, 1918: All defendants and counsel before Judge Howe. Trial begins and then adjourned to June 6th, 1918 at 10:30 AM. Bill of Particulars and notice and petition filed for return of papers. Motion denied.

    Trial takes place over many days as follows: June 6, 1918: Trial resumes before Judge Howe and then suspended until June 7th, 1918 at 10:30 AM. Defendants ordered to return. June 7, 1918: Trial resumed before Judge Howe, then suspended until June 10th, 1918 at 10:00 AM. June 10th, 1918: Trial resumes before Judge Howe, then suspended until June 11, 1918 at 10:00 AM. June 11, 1918: Trial resumes before Judge Howe, then suspended until June 12, 1918 at 10:00 AM. June 12, 1918: Trial resumes before Judge Howe, suspended until June 13th, 1918 at 10:00 AM. June 13, 1918: Trial resumes before Judge Howe, then suspended until June 14th, 1918. at 10:00 AM. June 14, 1918: Trial resumes before Judge Howe, then suspended until June 17th, 1918.

    June 17, 1918: Trial resumes before Judge Howe, then suspended until June 18, 1918. June 18, 1918: trial resumes before Judge Howe, then suspended until June 19th, 1918. June 19, 1918: Trial resumes before Judge Howe, then suspended until June 20, 1918. Defendants still out on bail and ordered to return each day up to now. June 20, 1918: Trial resumes before Judge Howe, trial concluded, verdict guilty on all counts. Motion to set aside verdict for a new trial. Defendants remanded until June 21, 1918 at 12:00 Noon. Order entered for sustenance of Jurors.

    June 21, 1918: Defendants present before Judge Howe. Motions to set aside verdict, arrest judgment, fix bail, and set new trial denied. US Attorney moves for sentence. Sentencing: Rutherford, VanAmburgh, Martin, Robinson, Fisher, Woodworth, and MacMillan sentenced each to 20 years. Sentence of DeCecca deferred until further consideration of the Court to have his past career investigated. DeCecca was sentenced to ten years by Judge Howe on July 10th, 1918.

    Many more motions and court dates take place up to March of 1919 while Rutherford and the others are in Federal Prison in Atlanta, GA.. Comment: So, rather than being drug off by jack-booted police in a rush railroad job at midnight … the Defendants were out on bail. They were able to hire attorneys. The Defendants objected to the case being dismissed against their fellow, Hirsh. Defendants had time to plea Not Guilty, withdraw their Not Guilty plea, and re-enter their Not Guilty plea … have arraignment, bond, and continuances. From May 5, 1918 through June 20, 1918 the pre-trial and trial took place. Then after they were convicted, their attorneys were in court 19 times over the next 10 months until March 1919 filing motions and petitions, appeals, etc.

    Was this a Railroad job? So far, it looks like the process was about normal. Letting Hirsh off the hook against the wishes of his fellow Defendants seemed like the Government was trying to be fair. Defendants even asked for and got another Judge! The next part will get into Jury examination: It will amaze you to see that Rutherford and his team had plenty of time to participate in Jury selection and examination … and how his attorney acted.

    Part 2a: JFR Trial – Judges Chambers

    NOTE: Part 2 was going to be about the Jury Selection, but I decided that the debates in Judges Chambers should come first. June 4, 1918 at 10:30 AM and June 5, 1918 at 2:00PM – Judge Howe’s Chambers (COURT)
    Page 107 to 128, Sect. 321 to 383

    US Attorneys for the Gov’t:
    Isaac Oeland and Charles Buchner (GOVT)
    Attorneys for Defense:
    Fred Sparks (DEF) for Rutherford, VanAmburgh, Martin, Robinson
    Jesse Fuller (DEF) for Fisher, Woodworth, DeCecca, MacMillan Hirsh’s attorney not mentioned or present since the Governement wanted to Dismiss the case against Hirsh.

    The main issues are Motions before the Court. Note that the DEF has two days in Judges Chamber to argue motions and plead their case with respect to many issues. The following are some of the highlights: GOVT-OELAND: The only one I am particularly concerned about is the motion made by the Government as to the Dismissal of defendant Hirsh.

    (Note: The DEF made nine motions for the Judge to consider. The GOVT made one motion, and that is all that concerned them. The GOVT never really fights the DEF on the other motions.) DEF-SPARKS: We object on the ground that the defendant Hirsh is alleged as a coconspirator in this indictment, and the motion to dismiss the indictment as to him would result in making him a witness, not governed by the usual rule covering coconspirators. It makes him available as a witness without the disqualification of corroborating his testimony.

    COURT: It is not necessary in this court to corroborate the testimony anyhow. DEF-SPARKS: I think maybe your Honor is right, but I make that objection.

    COURT: It is different than your state court where you have to have is corroborated. It is just a question here for the Jury. They can believe it or not, as they like, whether it is corroborated or not. I am inclined to think that the motion should be granted. Since the Government has indicted a number, it ought not be said they cannot back out. That is a right the Government has, the same as in civil suits the plaintiff can back out. DEF-SPARKS: It does not affect the rights of the others.

    COURT: If it does affect the right, you make him available as a witness, that won’t hardly be a good reason why the Court should say the Government should not back out. DEF-SPARKS: I suppose it is always in order to admit you are wrong even if you are with the Government.

    COURT: Yes, the Government is quite often wrong. You may enter the motion to dismiss the indictment as to this defendant Robert H. Hirsh, one of the defendants, is granted. What does all this mean? Essentially, the GOVT did not want to proceed against Hirsh as a coconspirator, and motioned to dismiss the case against Hirsh. The Defense objected to the Government backing out with respect to Hirsh, because he could be called as a witness against the remaining 8 defendants. The Defense was nervous about what Hirsh might say that would harm Rutherford and the other defendants.

    The Judge here seems very reasonable as he does throughout the entire trial. He admits the GOVT can be wrong. He follows the rules, and allows extensive arguments to be made by the Defense in Chambers. Notably, when the Judge confronts the Defense attorney Sparks with this, Sparks admits the Judge is right, and that the rights of the other defendants is not harmed. So, the real issue here for the defense was to try and shut Hirsh up from giving testimony. The contention by the Society that these Officers were “railroaded” is ludicrous. There is more said in the Judges Chambers that reveals how fair the Judge is, and what an idiot JFR was in hiring Sparks to defend him. ... to be continued to Part 2b.

    Part 2b: JFR Trial – Judges Chambers

    Pages 110 to Sect 328 – Judge Howe’s Chambers ... (COURT)

    COURT: Have you got your Demurrer prepared? DEF-SPARKS: With this limitation we are: Judge Chatfield suggested he was inclined to grant that with reservations, and he suggested that in the event the Demurrer was overruled, and we were permitted to plead over and went to trial again, that that Demurrer would stand for some purposes as an admission of certain allegations.

    (Demur: This is a motion put to a trial judge after the plaintiff has completed his or her case, in which the defendant, while not objecting to the facts presented, and rather than responding by a full defense, asks the court to reject the petition right then and there because of a lack of basis in law or insufficiency of the evidence. This motion has been abolished in many states and, instead, any such arguments are to be made while presenting a regular defense to the petition.) (Note: Rutherford’s attorney, Fred Sparks, seems to use their Demur as a delay tactic to rethink one’s position. On May 8th, a plea of “Not Guilty” was entered at the Arraignment hearing ... now the Defense wanted to withdraw the “Not Guilty” to Demur. They have to file a Demurrer with the Court to make this strategic change and delay the commencement of the trial.)

    COURT: I would not adopt that course. If you Demur, you Demur. I should allow you to plead over. I should not hamper you. (Note: The Court here is being very fair.) DEF-SPARKS: That is the overruling of the Demurrer and permitting us to plead again, could not be used as an admission on the trial of any formal matters of allegations of the complaint. Your Honor will so rule on that.

    COURT: That would be the legal effect of overruling the Demurrer. You admit facts for the purpose of the Demurrer. Isn’t that the rule? I shall not hamper you with admissions whatever. Come in and Demur. If you lose on the Demurrer you can make another plea. (Now DEF-Sparks and DEF-Fuller tip their hands.) DEF-SPARKS: I want to get this straight. Judge Chatfield was of the opinion if he permitted us to plead over again on the overruling of the Demurrer, that the Government could use the admissions we made.

    COURT: I shall not have any such stipulation. If you file a Demurrer and it is overruled, you can plead over. DEF:-FULLER: Without any admissions?

    COURT: Absolutely. If I give you the right, I give you the whole right. DEF-SPARKS: The admissions are only given on the arguments on the Demurrer.

    COURT: That’s the rule I was taught. The Court can say, unless you stipulate so and so, I would not allow you to Demur. GOVT-OELAND: I have no objection to the course your Honor is taking, except to say the action on the Demurrer we shall insist, and the other motions are made for delay.

    What happened? Neither the Court nor the prosecution would use any admissions made in the Demurrer. The Government simply felt that the additional motions were a delay tactic. What interests me most is the fact that if the Demurrer had been sustained, what admissions would have been made for the record. I don’t know if the Demurrer in this case is on file with the court ... but it would be interesting. So the defendants, Rutherford and company may well have ended up pleading guilty to some of the charges. As it turned out, the Demurrer was overruled, and the admissions in them would not be used against the defendants as directed by the Court and agreed to by the US Attorney. Was this a railroad Job as claimed by the Society?

    In Part 2c I will post the reasons for the “delay tactic” that the Government was concerned about regarding DEF-SPARKS. And in that part we will see how Sparks hangs himself.

    Part 2c – JFR Trial … Chambers

    This gets really good ... keep reading Trial, Page 112, Sect. 334, June 4th 1918, Judge Howe’s Chambers

    DEF: Sparks: “We are going, if the Court pleases, in this matter we shall have to file an affidavit if we are forced to trial today, with the question of the indictment being in the shape it is, that the time in this case has been so short to prepare for trial it is physically impossible for me to prepare. If your Honor will give me opportunity to – …” COURT: “You say you have not been able to get the case ready. When was the Indictment filed?”

    DEF-Sparks: “The 8th of May.” COURT: “If you were so busy, you should have told the defendants so.”

    DEF-Sparks: “We have been busy in this case, we notified the Government we could not be ready.” COURT: “You will have to make a strong showing to get a continuance.”

    DEF-Sparks: “You Honor, on first flush, seemed so reasonable I think we could show that.” COURT: “I hope I shall be reasonable on second flush. I won’t make any difference with the progress of the trial by filing the Demurrer. I should do that any time. Even after we have the Jury.

    [Note: I will discuss the Demurrer and the Court denials in another post.] … Later that day …

    COURT: “I overrule your Demurrer on each ground. You presented two grounds of Demurrer. I will overrule it as to each and give an exception to each of the defendants to the overruling of their Demurrer. How about your motion for a continuance?” DEF-Sparks: “We have not made it now, because of your dismissal of the Demurrer.”

    COURT: “I understood you wanted a continuance.” DEF-Sparks: “Yes –

    COURT: “You may now enter your pleas of Not Guilty for each defendant.” DEF-Sparks: “We will now make a motion to your Honor for a continuance in this case, on the ground that we have not had sufficient time to sufficiently prepare this case for trial, and in support of that motion we state that on the 8th of May, this indictment was found against these defendants; that I believe on the 12th of May I went down to Washington [DC] and had a conference with the Attorney-General, the purpose of which was to see whether a general agreement on """all the works""" of this Association could not be reached with a view of eliminating the publication of any matters the Government considered seditious.”

    COURT: “How is that material?” DEF-Sparks: “It is only material to show how little time we have has to prepare this case.”

    COURT: “You gave your attention to carrying on your business there than to getting ready.” DEF-Sparks: “We supposed we could dispose of the entire proposition. We were looking at it from a Government proposition. The Government wanted to accomplish a certain thing. It wanted to eliminate what it designated as religious propaganda, and we were trying to get the Government to state how they wanted us to act in the elimination of that religious propaganda. We assured the Government there was no intent on the part of any member of this Association to impede the draft law, and that we would do certain things without prejudice.

    “We left the situation with the Attorney-General. He was to take it up with his superior and pass on that as a Government proposition and see whether it was not better from a Government standpoint to reach an agreement with us as to future conduct of this Association, the Government having sent out a telegram to its local Association saying to people who violated in the past were not prosecuted, but only those who, after intentionally persisted in the sale of this literature. The matter came on for pleading to withdraw our plea on the 15th of May. I stated in open court I had been in Washington [DC] in the hope we would be able to reach some agreement with the Government on this matter, and we did not go into the preparation of this case because we did not feel it would be necessary.” COURT: “I should hold that was no excuse for not getting ready to try a case. Your clients are indifferent. You devote your time making an agreement for future conduct. Have you succeeded in making an agreement?”

    DEF-Sparks: “No.” COURT: “I doubt if you will. Suppose you did? You go to Washington and give attention there rather than to the District Attorney here, who has this charge.”

    DEF-Sparks: “We assumed if we reached an agreement, these cases would not be prosecuted. COURT: “In other words, you gave attention to having the case withdrawn rather than defending it.

    My Comments: What was going on here was that the Judge may have granted a continuance, but Sparks would have to have good reasons. His reasons were lacking. Sparks was to busy screwing around with deals. The bigger issue I also see, is that Sparks & his Clients, JFR & Company were willing to cut a deal with the Government to not publish certain things, preach certain things, or engage in certain acts that violated the law … if the Government would only drop the case. So, JFR was not concerned about publishing “Truth” but cutting deals through his lawyer to curb what he said in exchange for staying out of the Gray-Bar Hotel. Judge Howe saw through this crap, and denied the motion for a continuance.

    There is more on this that will be an eye-opener.

    Part 2d: JFR Trial – Judges Chambers

    Judge Howe’s Chambers: Transcript Pages 119 – 120, Sections 357-361 Interesting reasoning on the Defense Attorney Sparks as to what he needs to get ready for trial. That part is bolded.

    COURT: You had from the 8th of May. DEF-Sparks: No; because they did not elect on which indictment they would proceed.

    COURT: Did anyone in authority tell you they would not proceed on this indictment? DEF-Fuller: They have three other indictments.

    DEF-Sparks: Judge Chatfield said we would be notified on which indictment they would be tried. COURT: Similar Indictments?

    DEF-Sparks: No; trading with the enemy and this conspiracy. COURT: You have been indicted from the 8th of May. Of course, it would be your duty to get ready for trial. It is the policy of the Government to try this case.

    DEF-Fuller: Your Honor does not seem to realize the time taken going to Washington was time taken out. COURT: That was poor judgment.

    DEF-Fuller: Everything done, time going, the discussion, in preparation. This is a religious organization. COURT: Then they should be more quickly ready to explain their situation.

    DEF-Fuller: The organization expected to complete seven works. There is a question of intent in a paragraph of one of these books. COURT: that is a question of fact for the jury.

    DEF-Fuller: We are told that this religious volume is used as a subterfuge. COURT: The question of intent is a question of fact.

    DEF-Sparks: How can we tell by the cover of the book what the intent is? We have to study the book. We have to study the whole religious propaganda. COURT: I think you have the ability to tell whether this would tend to insubordination or disloyalty or refusal of duty. Why don’t the District Attorney tell what parts he objects to?

    DEF-Sparks: That’s what we want. COURT: I will see that you get it. What parts are they?

    GOVT-Oeland: 247 and 253. There are two other places in the book, a half a column in the book, backing that up. COURT: Can you specify the portions of that book? Also tell them the sermons, lectures and where delivered. Have you any more motions for a continuance, Mr. Fuller?

    GOVT-Oeland: There are seven letters, no sermons and no lectures. (The Court directed the District Attorney to furnish the attorneys for the defendants with copies of the letters to be used by the Government, and the portions of the books to be used by the Government.)

    My observations so far: First, points in favor of the Defense: By today’s standards, with heavy court dockets, the time of one month to prepare for trial is short. And I would have expected the District Attorney for the Government to have provided copies of the documents in question sooner, and to have made the indictment slightly more specific. Sparks took exception to every one of the Judges denials, and the Judge agreed to preserve every right of the Defendants under these exceptions. It was these exceptions among other pre-trial acts that allow attorneys for Rutherford & company to keep working on their release, which they achieved 18 months later. Also, the Prosecution was kind enough not to fight the Defense on these motions. They let the Defense hang itself with Judge Howe. Points in the Prosecutions favor: Sparks and Fuller spent way too much time going to Washington D.C. to try and head off the trial by influencing the Attorney General, and cutting deals. They could have hired additional counsel from another firm to prepare for trial, or do the politicking for them, saving time. It was not as though Rutherford was short on funds to pay for additional expert help. Sparks argument that he needs to “study the whole religious propaganda” (Dogma) of the Bible Students is an obvious ploy to get a continuance. Taking his statement at face value, he could then argue the need to review 40 years worth of Watchtower magazines and/or at least the Seven Volume Series of Studies in the Scriptures referred to by Fuller.

    Lastly, the American judicial system was originally based on the concept of a ‘speedy’ trial. This was done to change earlier methods where defendants may be held for months or years before having their day in court. In most jurisdictions there is a time limit, such as 60 to 90 days from the initial arrest until a defendant is on trial. If that time expires the Prosecution risks not being able to go forward, and being forced to drop charges. Usually, everything is done within that time frame, and any delay is because the Court grants a continuance to allow the Defense more time to prepare the case, cut a plea bargain deal, or other mitigating circumstances. So the 30 days from arrest until the Trial commenced is not all that unreasonable even by today’s standards. Also, what is not understood by JWs is that the Defendants knew from April 6th, 1918, a month prior to their arrest, that they were under investigation by the District Attorney ... so this gave them some additional time to retain legal counsel and prepare. In Part 3: The Full Indictment
    In Part 4: Jury Selection
    In Part 5: Cross-examination

    The cross-examination is the really good stuff.

    Part 3: JFR Trial – The Indictment [Note: If you do not have time to read the summarized indictment, then read my Summary Comments below. This gets good.]

    JW Views of the events: The Society gives the JWs the impression that the indictment against Rutherford & company was all about the ”Finished Mystery book, and the prophetic fulfillment that all-important book played in the ‘death’ of the ‘two Witnesses’ spoken of in Revelation. It was meat in due season! Spiritual food for which Satan and his worldly government found offensive enough in its declaration of God’s Kingdom, that they railroaded Rutherford and company off to prison ... aka persecution. Satan did not want Jehovah’s Kingdom declared as the incoming King-elect, Jesus Christ was taking his Throne in heaven ... and expelling Satan and a third of the angels to earth. This is big stuff, and JWs were made to feel that this event had major Biblical significance! Introduction re: Indictment: The indictment is long, repetitive, with much use of legalese wordiness. I will open with the initial phrases in the Indictment used to introduce Count 1, but eliminate the repetitive “Official-ese” by summarize the unique aspects of Counts 2, 3, and 4.

    Before you read it, there are a couple of items to understand. 1. The Society and its named defendants were under investigation for months. The Grand Jury met between April 3rd, 1918 through May 6th, 1918 to consider the evidence and decide on an Indictment. The Indictment was issued May 6th, 1918, and arrests were made May 8th, 1918. When a Grand Jury convenes, often the ‘potential’ defendants get wind of this, or may even be called to give testimony prior to an indictment. Defendants are not accompanied by lawyers before Grand Juries. Other than the language in the Indictment itself, I understand that the testimony given is not used directly in the Trial.

    2. Grand Jury hearings and testimony are sealed, and never released to the public. The only way we can know of anything stated in Grand Jury sessions is if one of the ‘witnesses’ decides to speak publicly. I have no direct information on what Rutherford or his legal team knew prior to May 8th, 1918, but I suggest the possibility that the Defense was aware of these proceedings based in comments made during pre-trial. If true, then this “awareness” would have given them additional time to make pre-trial preparations. 3. The Search Warrants issued were both in Pennsylvania and New York, allowing the Government to seize records and documents at both locations. Some JWs have the idea that only the New York Headquarters was raided. Additional documentation was provided directly by witnesses not associated with the Society, and some associated and known as members of the Bible Students.

    4. The ”Finished Mystery” book was NOT a major part of the evidence collected as implied by the Society. Rather it was other documentation that was mostly the bone of contention ... primarily correspondence between the officers of the Society and individuals on “Active Duty” in the United States Military during a Declared War. This is the crux of the Government’s case. The Indictment: “At a Stated Term of the District Court of the United States of America, for the Eastern District of New York, begun and held in the Borough of Brooklyn, City of New York, within and for the District aforesaid, on the third day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and eighteen, and continued by adjournment to and including the sixth day of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and eighteen.

    Eastern District of New York as: The Grand Jurors of the United States of America, within and for the district aforesaid, on their oaths present that on the sixth day of April, nineteen hundred and seventeen, a joint resolution was adopted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States declaring a state of war between the United States of America and the Imperial German Government, and that on said date the President of the United States of America issued a proclamation that such a state of war existed, and continually from the said date until the present time an open and public war was and is still being prosecuted and carried on between the United States of America and the said Imperial German Government.

    That during the period from the sixth day of April, nineteen hundred and seventeen, to the date of the filing and presentation of this Indictment the United States has been at war with the Imperial German Government, and during said period of time Joseph F. Rutherford, William E. Van Amburgh, Robert J. Martin, Fred H. Robinson, George H. Fisher, Clayton J. Woodworth, Giovanni De Cecca, and A Hugh MacMillan (hereinafter called defendants), at the Borough of Brooklyn, County of Kings, State and Eastern District of New York and within the jurisdiction of this Court, unlawfully and feloniously did conspire, combine, confederate and agree together, and with divers other persons to the said Grand Jurors unknown, to commit a certain offense against the United States of America, to wit: the offense of unlawfully, feloniously and willfully causing insubordination, disloyalty and refusal of duty in the military and naval forces of the United States of America when the United States was at war, to the injury of the military and naval forces of the United States of America, and to the injury of America, in, through and by personal solicitations, letters, public speeches, distributing and publicly circulating throughout the United States of America a certain book called “Volume VII, Bible Studies, The Finished Mystery,” and distributing and publicly throughout the United States certain articles printed in pamphlets called “Bible Student’s Monthly,” “Watch Tower,” “Kingdom News” and other pamphlets not named, which said book and pamphlets were to be published and distributed throughout the Eastern District of New York, and throughout other sections of the United States of America, and which said solicitations, letters, speeches, articles, books and pamphlets would and should persistently urge insubordination, disloyalty and refusal of duty in the said military and naval forces of the United States of America, to the injury of the United States of America, and to its military and naval forces. The said defendants, and each of them, in furtherance of said conspiracy did commit the following: (Note: Each Count restates the same type of language above, so I have simply culled out the legal jargon, and summarized each Count. I have inserted “ ... ” where such introductory language is eliminated. Also, I have Bolded certain elements of the Counts those items new to me, and stand out as more serious than what was published in the Finished Mystery book.)

    FIRST COUNT: 1. ... the said defendants, and each of them, did compile and caused to be compiled certain reports, and did add to them certain original writings, in the production of a book, hereinbefore mentioned, called “Volume VII, Bible Studies, The Finished Mystery,” ...

    2. ... the said defendants, and each of them did publish and cause to be published the said book,” ... and did cause the same to be copyrighted in the name of the People’s Pulpit Association. 3. ... the said defendants, and each of them, did distribute and cause to be distributed to one Jerry De Cecca and one Carmelo Nicita, while said Jerry De Cecca and Carmelo Nicita were members of the military forces of the United States of America, attached to Camp Devens, and to certain other persons to the Grand Jurors unknown ... the said book ...

    4. the said defendants, and each of them, received a letter written in Italian from one Frank D’Onofrio, at that time a member of the military forces of the United States of America, addressed to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, ... made and caused to be made a translation into English, a true and correct copy ... 5. ... the said defendants, and each of them, did distribute and cause to be distributed to Carmelo Nicita and Jerry De Cecca, members of the military forces of the United States of America, copies of the translation of the said ... letter ...

    6. ...the said defendants, and each of them, reprinted and caused to be reprinted a certain letter which they had received, dated the nineteenth day of September, nineteen hundred and sixteen, signed by Clara Cerulli, containing an account of the trial of one Remigio Cuminetti, an alleged member of the International Bible Students Association, for a violation of the military law in Italy ... and each of them, did distribute and cause to be distributed to various persons whose names are to the Grand Jurors unknown ... 7. ... the said defendants, and each of them, did cause to be printed and distributed throughout the United States of America, particularly men subject to become members of the military forces of the United States, to wit; men liable to be selected under Act of Congress approved May 18, 1917 for the military service ... an affidavit subscribed and sworn to by William E. Van Amburgh ...

    8. ... did send or cause to be sent to one Jerry De Cecca, who was at the time a member of the military forces ... certain letters ... schedule G ... 9. ... did send and cause to be sent to one Carmello Nicita, who was at that time a member of the military ... certain letters ... Schedule H ... Schedule I ... All against the peace and dignity of the United States of America and contrary to the form of the Statute in such case made and provided.

    SECOND COUNT: (Repeated the same long introduction as above, except near the end:) ... ... persistently urge failure and refusal on the part of available persons to enlist in the military and naval forces of the United States and should and would, through and by the means above mentioned obstruct the recruiting and recruiting service of the United States ... to the injury of that service ... (Sub-Counts 1 through 9 are the same as Item 1 of First Count)

    THIRD COUNT: (Repeated nearly the same long introduction as above, except in addition to listing books, magazines and pamphlets, they added the ‘letters’ from above as Schedules B, C, D, E, F, G, H, and I ... and near the middle of the Third Count said:) ... ... did unlawfully, willfully and feloniously attempt to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny and the refusal of duty in the military and naval forces of the United States ... and by means of personal solicitations, letters, ... (No Sub-Counts were stated, but considered the same incorporated by reference of the above Schedules.)

    FOURTH COUNT: (Repeated nearly the same long introduction as above in the Third Count, except near the end of the Fourth Count said:) ... ... intending and attempting to cause and influence various persons available for military duty to fail to register and to refuse to submit to registration and draft for service in said military and naval forces and to fail and to refuse to enlist for services therein and by inciting others so to do, notwithstanding the requirements of said laws in that behalf and notwithstanding the patriotic duty of such persons and others to so register and submit to registration and draft so ... and notwithstanding the cowardice involved in such failure and refusal, all of which was to be accomplished by the use of all means and methods aforesaid as a protest against and as a forcible means of preventing, interfering with, hindering, and delaying the execution of said laws of the United States and also to interfere with hinder and delay the Government of the united States in its lawful efforts to build up and maintain an Army for the carrying on of said war ... (No Sub-Counts were stated, but considered the same incorporated by reference of the above Schedules.)

    Melville J. France,
    United States Attorney for the
    Eastern District of New York (Note: All the Exhibits and Schedules are included in my Transcript except the “Finished Mystery”. I have a separate copy of that book. However, the “missing pages removed as a result of this trial are discussed in the Trial.)

    Summary Comments: The Society would have JWs believe that the charges were trumped up and only involved some ‘spiritual truths, meat in due season’ found in the “Finished Mystery” book, and that the Society was simply publishing their beliefs on God’s Word, the Bible. The truth is, there were many Schedules and Exhibits involved that were more damning than the “book”, AND the Society’s officers and members were inciting people on active duty in the military and those about to be drafted to insubordination, refusal of duty and mutiny. This was far more serious than I ever understood as a JW. Further, it is very important to understand that the Government needed to establish that the Bible Students were not an organized religion recognized for conscious objection, because they had no required Creed! This is why Joseph Rutherford subsequently strengthened the JW Creed, and forced the congregations of Bible Students to Register with the Society, and changed their religion into a controlled hierarchical system! This is why to this very day the Society has all JW congregations remind young JW men each year to register with the Selective Service upon reaching 18 years of age ... to avoid a similar lawsuit.

    In subsequent parts, you will see that the Government proves that Joseph Rutherford & company were guilty as sin of the stated charges ... and that is why they were convicted. You will se that the Writ of Error was NOT any kind of “Exoneration” as claimed by the Society ... as a matter of Law they were not ever exonerated ... stay tuned ... to be continued ...

    NEXT: Part 4 onward...

    back to Watchtower Museum

Share this