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The Man in Court   By: (1874-1929)

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Transcriber's Note: Some obvious typographical errors have been corrected in this text. For a list please see the bottom of the document. The one Greek word is transliterated and marked with 's.

THE MAN IN COURT

by

FREDERIC DEWITT WELLS Justice, Municipal Court of New York City

G.P. Putnam's Sons New York and London The Knickerbocker Press 1917 Copyright, 1917 by Frederic Dewitt Wells The Knickerbocker Press, New York

To

MY FRIEND

CHARLES E. GOSTENHOFER

OF THE NEW YORK BAR

IN ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF HIS AID AND SUGGESTIONS

THIS BOOK IS DEDICATED

INTRODUCTION

The author has tried to show the point of view of the ordinary man in a law court, as the various proceedings of a trial take shape before him. To the initiated, the whole book may seem too obvious; but it has not been written for them, but for those to whom these proceedings are unfamiliar. There are many who have a certain curiosity about the courts, and at the same time a real respect for justice, mingled with amusement at the panoplies and antiquated forms of legal procedure.

F. DEW. W.

NEW YORK, January, 1917 .

CONTENTS

PAGE

INTRODUCTION iii

I. A NIGHT COURT 3

II. THE CIVIL COURT 21

III. THE JUDGE 39

IV. THE ANXIOUS JURY 57

V. THE STRENUOUS LAWYER 75

VI. THE WORRIED CLIENT 93

VII. PROGRAMS AND PLEADINGS 111

VIII. PICKING THE JURY 129

IX. OPENING THE CASE 149

X. THE CONFUSED WITNESS 165

XI. THOSE TECHNICAL OBJECTIONS 183

XII. THE MOVEMENTS IN COURT 201

XIII. ELOCUTION 219

XIV. THE HEAVY CHARGE 235

XV. THE TRUE VERDICT 251

XVI. LOOKING BACKWARD 265

I

A Night Court

In the Night Court the drama is vital and throbbing. As the saddest object to contemplate is a play where the essentials are wrong, so in this court the fundamentals of the law are the cause of making it an uncomfortable and pathetic spectacle.

The women who are brought before the Night Court are not heroines, but the criminal law does not seem better than they. It makes little attempt to mitigate any of the wretchedness that it judges; in many cases it moves only to inflict an additional burden of suffering. The result is tragedy.

The magistrate sits high, between standards of brass lamps. His black gown, the metal buttons and gleaming shields of the waiting police officers, the busy court officials behind the long desks on either hand tell of the majesty of the law.

In front of the desk but at a lower level is a space of ten or twelve feet running across the court room in which are patrolmen, plain clothes men, detectives, women prisoners, probation officers, reporters, witnesses, investigators, and lawyers. Beyond in the court room a large crowd is on the benches. There are witnesses, brothers and sisters, friends of the prisoners waiting to see whether they go out through the street entrance or back through the strong barred gate seen through the door on the left. Also there are the "sharks" waiting to follow out the released prisoners, to prey upon them as the circumstances may favor; and a number of curiosity seekers watching intently. For them it can be nothing but a morbid dumb show, for they are so far from the bench that not a word of the proceedings could be heard... Continue reading book >>




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