Publication information

Proceedings of the Seventeenth Annual Session of the Iowa State Bar Association
Source type: book
Document type: public address
Document title: “A Jury of Our Peers”
Author(s): Wade, M. J.
Publisher: The Association
Place of publication: Iowa City, Iowa
Year of publication: 1911
Pagination: 106-12 (excerpt below includes only pages 109-10)

Wade, M. J. “A Jury of Our Peers.” Proceedings of the Seventeenth Annual Session of the Iowa State Bar Association. Iowa City: The Association, 1911: pp. 106-12.
law (due process).
Named persons
Leon Czolgosz [misspelled below]; James A. Garfield; Charles J. Guiteau; William McKinley; Theodore Roosevelt; Daniel Webster.
From title page: Proceedings of the Seventeenth Annual Session of the Iowa State Bar Association, Held at Oskaloosa, Iowa, June 29 and 30, 1911.

A Jury of Our Peers

     Does not a measure of recent legislation make it possible that the power of the United States Courts can be for an indefinite period actually paralyzed? Is it not likely that this measure will be generally utilized with Judges of the greatest effectiveness and by law breakers of the most atrocious character? Consider the crime of a Guiteau or a Csolgocz. Let the accused be represented by reckless or desperate counsel. A president, gentle and noble as McKinley, or learned, fervid, and eloquent as Garfield, or a foe to graft, fascinating, inspiring, dominating as Roosevelt, has perished by the hand of an assassin. The world stands aghast at the crime. The assassin awaits the trial. Every preliminary has been arranged. Then ten days before the trial, section twenty-one of the new judicial code is invoked. What is this?

     Whenever a party to any action or proceeding, civil or criminal, shall make and file an affidavit that the Judge before whom the action or proceeding is to be tried or heard, has a personal bias or prejudice, either against him or in favor of any opposite party to the suit, such Judge shall proceed no further therein.

     It matters not how frivolous the alleged cause of personal prejudice. The statute is imperative. With all the injurious consequences of delay, of public excitement, and the furious [109][110] outbreak which may result from frenzied passion of an outraged people, no matter how perjured the oath, how paltry the pretext, how great and causeless the delay, the Judge must descend from the bench, another Judge must be designated. The illustration is, perhaps, extreme, but the innovation is applicable to any case, to all cases, and I believe that no other single measure of legislation can do so much to cripple the effectiveness, the usefulness, and the authority of our National Courts. The letter of the statute accords no hearing to the Judge or to a party. Is this due process of law? Test it by the definition of Daniel Webster—

     By the law of the land is more clearly intended the general law, a law which hears before it condemns; which proceeds upon inquiry, and renders judgment only after trial.

     But more dangerous than the power to disqualify a Judge is the uncontrolled power to disgrace and defame him. My brethren, I ask you to consider if, in the utter absence of all charges against him, the recently adopted method of arbitrary and secret espionage or investigation of Judges, made by Examiners, as they are termed, of the Department of Justice, under the direct order of the Attorney General, is not to maltreat American Judges with cruel and apparently callous indifference to their reputation and good name?