Rutherford's legal career in a nutshell

by VM44 3 Replies latest jw friends

  • VM44

    Rutherford's Legal Career.

    Rutherford took some courses in shorthand.
    He worked as a clerk at a law firm.
    He took an oral exam by several lawyers, and passed.
    He became a member of the bar, and could practice law.

    He was selected to fill in for a judge for a few days
    when the judge was out of town. This he deemed was
    enough for him to accept the title of "Judge" for the
    rest of his life.

    Rutherford became (supposedly) a member of the New York Bar.

    When he became a Bible Student, he was in top circle of
    people around Russell, but....

    When Russell sued a newspaper for libel over the "Miracle
    Wheat" affair, Rutherford was not chosen to handle the case.

    After Russell died, and Rutherford wanted to kick out the directors
    of the WTS, he consulted with some other attorney.

    When the flag issues resulted in court cases, Rutherford did not
    handle the legal defense. Moyle and Covington were the top lawyers
    used by the WTS in those cases.

    Rutherford presented an oral argument before the US Supreme Court
    once, his argument being mainly theological in nature, and he left
    unused some of the time allocated to him, in order to answer
    questions from the judges, but he was disappointed when they did
    not ask any question of him, and ignored the arguments he presented.

    So there you have it, Rutherford the lawyer, Rutherford the Judge,
    Rutherford the "non"-trial lawyer, all summarized in one place.

    In Walter Salter's letter 1937 letter to Rutherford, he wrote,
    "Two years ago last summer you made the statement to me and another
    that you had bluffed all your life. I believe that was one of the truest
    statements you ever made..."

    I concur.


  • Amazing

    Hi VM: Good points. I agree with you that JFR was not a stellar lawyer. He did, however, have some additional experience in matters of law:

    JFR also worked as a Court Stenographer, and I believe Court Clerk. He served on two other US Supreme Court cases as co-Chair, but made no oral arguments, and was not always present. He also practiced Law in Missouri, and handled one or two high profile cases.

    There is an old saying that he who represents himself has a fool for a lawyer. When Rutherford was President of the WTS, and cases involved the Society, he was wise to rely on others and/or use outside Counsel.

  • TR
    "Two years ago last summer you made the statement to me and another that you had bluffed all your life. I believe that was one of the truest statements you ever made..."

    That statement MUST be in a quotable quotes SOMEwhere. By far the most applicable quote for the WTS.


    I hold it to be the inalienable right of anybody to go to hell in his own way.
    --Robert Frost, 1935

  • VM44

    Hi Amazing,

    I went over to to search the US Supreme Court records
    for cases where "Joseph F. Rutherford" is mentioned as one of the lawyers.

    Here are the results:

    SCHNEIDER v. NEW JERSEY, 308 U.S. 147 (1939), Distribution of leaflet

    MINERSVILLE SCHOOL DIST. v. GOBITIS, 310 U.S. 586 (1940),Refusal to salute the flag

    COX v. NEW HAMPSHIRE, 312 U.S. 569 (1941), Marches and leaflets

    JONES v. CITY OF OPELIKA, 316 U.S. 584 (1942) License on book selling

    I believe that in one of these cases, Rutherford made his oral argument before the court. I will continue to research this.

    TR, quite a good quote isn't it? It came from the letter Walter
    Salter wrote to "The Judge," the text of which is at:



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