jury box

An American Jury Goes On Strike (1911)

At last, an American jury has stood on its constitutional rights and refused to return a “directed verdict” at the dictation of a judge.

The facts are as follows: Bridget McDermott died in St. Louis in 1905, cutting off one of her daughters, Mary Farrington, and three other heirs with $1.00 each and leaving the estate to two daughters, naming Rev. Father John White as executor. The two daughters died of consumption about three years ago, having previously conveyed valuable improved realty to Father White. He testified he had paid the taxes on the property and paid the funeral expenses of the two daughters, who gave him the property for “$1.00 and other considerations.”

Mary Farrington had filed suit to set aside her mother’s will and had a suit pending to set aside the conveyance of realty to the executor.

This item, and others like it, can be found in Accessible Archive’s Women’s Suffrage Collection. We can provide access to fully searchable newspapers by and for women including The Lily (1849-1856), National Citizen and Ballot Box (1878-1881), The Revolution (1868-1872), The New Citizen (1909-1912), The Western Woman Voter (1911-1913), The Woman’s Tribune (1883-1909) and the antisuffrage newspaper, The Remonstrance (1890-1913).

The case, with reference to the will, was tried before a jury of St. Louis business men and when the evidence was all in Judge Jas. E. Withrow, to the astonishment of the attorneys and all others present, instructed the jury that the evidence did not substantiate the charge of “undue influence,” and that they should, therefore, bring in a verdict favorable to the defendant priest and upholding the will.

To the jurors the evidence in the case appeared altogether different and they refused to comply with the judge’s request.

They were told they would be detained by the court until they complied with Judge Withrow’s order, and they announced they would stand on “their rights as American citizens” and go to jail before they would decide the case in any other than the manner which their consciences dictated. They were told the court would assume full responsibility for their action in carrying out orders. The twelve men made up a fund, purchased thirty-two cigars and a quantity of cigarettes and prepared to “stick it out.”

Following a seventy-four hour deadlock, however, Judge Withrow notified the jury that he would receive their verdict, and when he did it was in favor of the plaintiff.

Source: The Western Woman Voter – December 1911

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