Source: Daily Picayune
Source type: newspaper
Document type: editorial
Document title: “Trial of the President’s Murderer”
City of publication: New Orleans, Louisiana
Date of publication: 24 September 1901
Volume number: 65
Issue number: 243
|“Trial of the President’s Murderer.” Daily Picayune 24 Sept. 1901 v65n243: p. 4.|
|Leon Czolgosz (trial: personal response); Leon Czolgosz (trial: jury selection); Leon Czolgosz (trial: compared with Molineux trial); Leon Czolgosz (trial: compared with Guiteau trial); Leon Czolgosz (trial: predictions, expectations, etc.).|
|Leon Czolgosz; James A. Garfield; Charles J. Guiteau; William McKinley; Roland B. Molineux [identified as Richard Molineaux below].|
Trial of the President’s Murderer
The trial of Leon Czolgosz, the murderer of President
McKinley, was commenced yesterday, at Buffalo, N. Y.
There is, of course, no question that the defendant was the murderer. He was seen in the act of assassination by many persons, and was arrested with the smoking pistol in his hand immediately after he had fired the fatal shot. He employed no counsel and showed no desire to have any assistance; but the court, as is the rule in such cases, assigned as counsel for the defendant two most distinguished lawyers. They accepted the duty and announced their intention to see that the prisoner has all the protection the law can give.
The prisoner, on being arraigned before the bar of the court, pleaded guilty; but the court ignored his plea and ordered that it should be entered on the record as not guilty.
The most astonishing feature of the case was the ease and readiness with which the jury was selected and impaneled. Within the course of a very few hours twelve men were found who would undertake to give the defendant a fair trial; whereas, in a far less important case under the laws of New York, several weeks of time were consumed in securing a jury, while more than a thousand talesmen were examined, before twelve jurymen could be chosen.
A case in point, under the New York law, was the trial of one Richard Molineaux, who was accused of having committed murder by poisoning. After many days had been spent, and tens of hundreds of talesmen had been examined in the process of securing a jury, the trial consumed three months (92 days), and yet in a case in which the assassin of the President of the United States is on trial a jury was secured in four hours, and it was announced by counsel that the trial would, in all probability, be concluded inside of two days.
Counsel for the prisoner intimated that their sole line of defense would be upon the claim that the prisoner was insane when he committed the act. It should be remembered that the trial of Guiteau, the murderer of President Garfield, who was defended under the insanity plea, continued for seventy days before it resulted in his conviction. He was tried in a United States court at Washington, while Czolgosz is being tried in a New York State court. It is worth while to note that the Czolgosz and the Molineaux trials show the extremes of judicial methods in New York State.
In all probability, the murderer of the President will be convicted. The sort of murderous malice which dogs its victims until the desired opportunity for decisive action occurs, and then strikes the fatal blow, may be classed as insanity by those theorists who deem insane every person whose acts are not wholly commonplace and dictated by the simplest motives, but the best rule of law declares that deliberate malice and fixed intention mark the sanity of a criminal act, and in this case such characteristics are plainly present, and the safety of society requires that they shall not be excused.