Source: Spokane Daily Chronicle
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “Too Much Legalism”
City of publication: Spokane, Washington
Date of publication: 17 September 1901
Volume number: 16
Issue number: 12
|“Too Much Legalism.” Spokane Daily Chronicle 17 Sept. 1901 v16n12: p. 3.|
|McKinley assassination (international response); lawlessness (mob rule); Leon Czolgosz (trial: predictions, expectations, etc.); law (criticism); Leon Czolgosz (legal defense).|
|Leon Czolgosz; Charles J. Guiteau; William McKinley.|
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.”