Too Much Legalism
American Law Allows Guilty to Escape Punishment.
Prominent Criminal Lawyer Will Defend President’s Murderer.
NEW YORK, Sept. 17.—After 48 hours’
discussion of the Buffalo tragedy, public opinion in England asks
the question whether America will tolerate another Guiteau scandal
when McKinley’s murderer is brought up for trial, says the London
correspondent of the Herald. Lynch law, as applicable to this wretch,
was never so nearly popular in England, all classes agreeing that
short shift is the only fitting justice. From one of his majesty’s
judges your correspondent is able to give the substance of the highest
legal opinion here as to what the Buffalo courts ought to do.
“This ought to give America the chance
to shake off the incubus of too much legalism,” said the judge,
“and by legalism I me[a]n straining the law to defeat its own purposes.
In criminal trials it seems to be the main object of the American
courts to discover a jury who will liberate the prisoner, not carry
out the law.
“Absurd questions are asked whether
the veniremen or jurymen have read about the case, whether such
reading has led to the formation of opinion on the merits of the
case so as to prejudice the verdict; whether they are acquainted
with the prisoner or victim. This absurd straining for loopholes,
which the courts appear to encourage, is, in my opinion, the first
step towards anarchy.
“In this connection it is reported
that a famous crimimal lawyer of New York, who left London on a
sudden call on Saturday, has been summoned to Buffalo to defend
Czolgosz. This does not indicate that the murderer is absolutely
friendless, but, on the contrary, that he is merely the tool of
an organization with funds behind it.”