Looking for transcript of the "Miracle Wheat" trial

by Doug Mason 23 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Focus

    I have much material on this and on all the Watchtower's losses in lawsuits (which, in essence, means all of them, lol).

    Here, for example, is a cleaned up transcript of the APPEAL decision.

    It was delivered "Per Curiam" (so, all the judges concurred in its wording). Russell's appeal was rejected and furthermore the decision that he should pay all costs was reaffirmed. The costs of this appeal were also payable by the rogue.

    Citation: 168 A.D. 121, 153 N.Y.S. 450 Russell v. Brooklyn Daily Eagle 168 A.D. 121, 153 N.Y.S. 450 N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept. 1915 May 07, 1915

    Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, New York.




    May 7, 1915.

    Appeal from Trial Term, Kings County.

    Action by Charles T. Russell against the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

    From a judgment for defendant, and from an order denying his motion for a new trial, plaintiff appeals. Judgment and order affirmed.

    In action for publication charging plaintiff with selling Miracle Wheat at $1 a pound, reports of United States Department of Agriculture as to such wheat, kept as required by Rev. St. U.S. §§ 520, 526 (5 USCA §§ 511, 514), receivable in evidence under Code Civ. Proc. § 944, and Act Feb. 9, 1889, c. 122, 25 Stat. 659 (5 USCA § 512), for any proper purpose, held admissible.

    Newspaper publication of cartoon referring to plaintiff, an unordained preacher as dishonestly and fraudulently selling Miracle Wheat at $1 a pound to his disciples held libelous.

    In action for libel, where defendant pleaded truth in justification, held that it was for jury to ascertain the scope of the cartoon, and to say whether defendant's proofs established the defense.

    Jesse Fuller, Jr., of Brooklyn (J. F. Rutherford, on the brief), for appellant.

    I. R. Oeland, of New York City, for respondent.

    Argued before JENKS, P. J., and THOMAS, CARR, STAPLETON, and PUTNAM, JJ.


    [1] The action is for damages for libel. The defendant is the publisher of a daily newspaper. The plaintiff professes to be an interpreter of the Bible, and is an unordained preacher. The libel alleged was published in a cartoon. The headline of the cartoon is 'Easy Money Puzzle.' In the cartoon is shown a building on which is printed 'Onion Bank.' The figure of a man appears at the door of the building. He is represented as saying: 'You're wasting time. Come on in here.' In the foreground is an effigy of the plaintiff, portrayed as carrying a small package. There is this subscription: 'If Pastor Russell can get a dollar a pound for Miracle Wheat , what could he have got for Miracle Stocks and Bonds as a director in the old Union Bank?' Contemporaneously with the publication, the Union Bank had defaulted in payment of deposits. Its failure was by the press attributed to the infidelity, inefficiency, and unlawful acts of several of its officers. They were charged with purchasing with the depositors' money bogus securities at fictitious prices from co-conspirators. A violent denunciatory newspaper campaign, in which the defendant prominently participated, was being waged against the officers. The plaintiff's plea was that the defendant's purpose was falsely to charge him with dishonest and fraudulent practices in disposing to his disciples, to their loss, of a grade of wheat, known as Miracle Wheat, at $1 per pound. The defendant pleaded the truth in justification. The learned trial court charged the jury that the publication was libelous, and left it to them to say whether the defense was established. The jury rendered a verdict for the defendant.

    [2] The charge contained a correct exposition of the law governing the defense. The court properly left it to the jury to ascertain the pith and scope of the cartoon, and then to determine whether defendant's proofs were adequate to meet the charges as thus ascertained.

    [3] The appellant's only assignment of error which we deem it necessary to discuss is the asserted inadmissibility of reports of the United States Department of Agriculture. Such reports were duly authenticated, and when so authenticated they are receivable as evidence for any proper purpose. Section 944, Code Civil Procedure; 25 Stat. 659, Fed. Stat. Ann. vol. 1, p. 8. The plaintiff was the editor of a publication purporting to be devoted to a religious propaganda. In it he informed his sympathetic readers that one of his associates had accumulated Miracle Wheat, which the associate was disposed to sell to the readers of that publication for $1 a pound. The associate promised to give the entire proceeds to a corporation organized and controlled by the plaintiff. In the article it was represented that the yield of Miracle Wheat was 10 or 15 times as great as the yield of common wheat. The record offered in evidence tended to show, as the result of governmental experiment, that Miracle Wheat was no more prolific than brands of wheat in general use and of ordinary quality. There was independent evidence that other wheats could be purchased at prices so low, in comparison, as to make the advertised price of Miracle Wheat exorbitant. Among the duties imposed and the powers conferred upon the Department of Agriculture are the following: To acquire and to diffuse among the people of the United States useful information on subjects connected with agriculture, in the most general and comprehensive sense of that word (section 520, Rev. Stat. U. S.); to procure and preserve all information concerning agriculture which the Commissioner of Agriculture (now the Secretary), can obtain by means of books and correspondence, and by practical and scientific experiments, accurate records of which experiments shall be kept in his office, by the collection of statistics, and by any other appropriate means within his power. He shall collect new and valuable seeds and plants, shall test, by cultivation, the value of such of them as may require such test, shall propagate such as may be worthy of propagation, and shall distribute them among agriculturists. Section 526, Rev. Stat. U. S. See, also, Act March 2, 1901, c. 805, 31 Stat. 928. The question is, are those records relevant evidence of the facts therein recorded, upon the issue of justification? In Evanston v. Gunn, 99 U. S. 660, 666, 25 L. Ed. 306, speaking of records of the Weather Bureau, the court said: 'They are, as we have seen, of a public character, kept for public purposes, and so immediately before the eyes of the community that inaccuracies, if they should exist, could hardly escape exposure. They come, therefore, within the rule which admits in evidence 'official registers or records kept by persons in public office in which they are required' (sic) 'either by statute or by the nature of their office, to write down particular transactions occurring in the course of their public duties or under their personal observation.' Taylor, Evid. § 1429; 1 Greenl. Evid. § 483. To entitle them to admission it is not necessary that a statute requires them to be kept. It is sufficient that they are kept in the discharge of a public duty. 1 Greenl. Evid. § 496. Nor need they be kept by a public officer himself, if the entries are made under his direction by a person authorized by him. Galt v. Galloway, 4 Pet. 332 [7 L. Ed. 876]. It is hardly necessary to refer to judicial decisions illustrating the rule. They are numerous. A few may be mentioned. De Armond v. Neasmith, 32 Mich. 231; Gurney v. Howe, 9 Gray (Mass.) 404 [69 Am. Dec. 299]; The Catharine Maria, Law Rep. 1 Ad. & Ec. 53; Cliquot's Champagne, 3 Wall. 114 [18 L. Ed. 116].

    While we appreciate that there is some difference between the official record of observations of natural conditions and the official record of observations of the operation of natural conditions, influenced by human action, the distinction is not sufficient to make the rule just quoted inapplicable. We think the court did not err in receiving the evidence.

    The judgment and order should be affirmed, with costs.

    N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept. 1915


    168 A.D. 121, 153 N.Y.S. 450

    All but one of Russell's grounds for appeal were ignored as irrelevant - an appeal is not a re-trial. The exception was his objection to the evidence from the Dept. of Agriculture that his Miracle Wheat was, well, Non-Miracle Wheat - evidence Russell tried to suppress and have excluded. Ummm, no.

    That this filthy, lying, swindling, child-molesting, perjurious fraudster was the most decent person who has ever headed the Watchtower should give some food for thought.



    ("Anti-Jaracz" Class)

  • Band on the Run
    Band on the Run

    Reading the entire trial transcript would be preferable. I wonder if other transcripts from this era are missing. Brief excerpts may be misleading. I continue to feel that speaking with Long Island Historical Society might lead to the transcript. If I recall correctly, Brooklyn was considered Long Island when the histrical society was set up. Many historians feel the big topics, such as the New Deal or the SEC, are covered enough so they research quirky local stories.

    I can understand why a law library would want to throw out the old materials.

  • Focus

    I concur, Band on the Run.

    I may have more of the excerpts - I will look.

    Some links above are broken. And Alleymom is wrong, and Masterji is (as ever) right - the extract is not from Amburgh's book, but from the re-publishers' explanatory note to it - which I imagine Google Books excludes, as it is certainly in copyright.

    Here, for everyone's delectation, is the resurrected cartoon that prompted the lawsuit:

    The background is that the Union Bank, to which Russell has no connection, had just gone bankrupt. Russell, in the foreground, is shouting out the benefits of his "Miracle Wheat" and with one of little bundles of seeds (not very well packaged, as you can see), which he was trying to sell, suspended from his left hand.

    The rest shoulr be pretty obvious - Russell's fraudulent marketing technique re Miracle Wheat, applied to the Bank's fortunes, could have saved it by conning people into buying junk scrip.

    For the avoidance of doubt, the cartoonist with initials "N.H." was a Brooklyn Eagle regular (whose name now escapes me) and not our own Norm Hovland, who isn't quite that old. :|



    ("I Have It" Class)

  • KiddingMe


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