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The Signs of the Times, vol. 13

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    “Let Justice Be Done” The Signs of the Times 13, 41, p. 648.

    TO execute justice upon the rich and influential is one of the hardest tasks that the body politic, in these days, has to perform. About three or four months ago, in New York City, Jacob Sharp was convicted of bribery, and was sentenced to the penitentiary, and yet he has not, so far, seen the penitentiary. First there was a stay of proceedings granted, for a hearing before the State Supreme Court. Then, that there might be no delay, Governor Hill called a special sitting of the Supreme Court to consider this case alone. The Supreme Court decided against him. Then another stay of proceedings was granted for a hearing before the Court of Appeals; and there the case hangs. And there is not the least doubt that if the Court of Appeals decides against him, then an appeal will be taken to the Supreme Court of the United States, if there is any possibility of the tricky lawyers finding the slightest technicality; and if they can’t find one they will create one. It is exceedingly doubtful whether this man will ever receive the punishment due for his crimes, or the penalty already pronounced upon him. For precisely the same crime, a poor man would have been in the penitentiary long ago.SITI October 27, 1887, page 648.1

    The Anarchists in Chicago form another case in point. Nearly a year ago they were found guilty of murder, and justly condemned. Then the case was appealed to the State Supreme Court. That court decided against them. Now, every possible effort is being made to secure a hearing before the United States Supreme Court. To gain this point, the best talent in the United States is secured, and the claim is made that the jury law of the State of Illinois is contrary to the Constitution of the United States. Thus the whole legal machinery of the State for years back must be broken up, that a gang of murderers may escape the penalty due their crimes. And this because they belong to a noisy rabble that can cast a lot of votes.SITI October 27, 1887, page 648.2

    In San Francisco lately, a man was held for trial in $10,000 bail, on a crime of jury-bribing. At the trial he was convicted, and was to be sentenced in a few days, but meantime was let go on the bail of $10,000. Of course the man left the place at once, and when the day for his sentence came, he was in Mexico. And now instead of ... the $10,000 forfeit at once, the State has to institute suit for it, and if ever half of it reaches the State treasury it will be a wonder. But even if all of it should have been paid into court without a word, what satisfaction would that have been for the criminal who was convicted?SITI October 27, 1887, page 648.3

    Another case in this same connection is one in which a lawyer was convicted of contempt of court, and sentenced to $500 fine and six months in jail. He had scarcely landed in his cell before a writ of habeas corpus was sued out, and he was released on bail till the court chose to hear his case. When he was heard the court decided against him and remanded him again to jail. He had barely reached the jail again when another writ of habeas corpus was sued out from a judge of the State Supreme Court, and he was let go on $500 bail for a hearing before that court when the court gets ready. This is but a part of the story, for there is no telling where the thing will stop, or whether the sentence will ever be executed.SITI October 27, 1887, page 648.4

    All these cases happening at the same time in different parts of the country—New York, Illinois, and California, in the Eastern, Central, and Western States—only go to show how almost entirely the course of law has become only a travesty of justice. It is not very long that the forms of law can stand such outrages. At such a rate all respect for law will soon be gone, and downright violence will take its place. But where is the prospect of its growing any better? There is none at all. These criminal lawyers and tricksters are constantly growing worse and more abundant. And nothing but violence can be the end of it all.SITI October 27, 1887, page 648.5