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.