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 (may take sub-parts to complete)
In Part 5: Cross-examination (will take sub-parts to complete)
The cross-examination is the really good stuff.