December 15, 1907





Hair-Splitting Legal Points and Dila-
tory Tactics That Resulted in Sev-
eral Curtains Going Up
Late Last Night.

Curtains were delayed in going up in some of the theaters and there were overtures by abbreviated orchestras last evening because Judge W. H. Wallace had stage hands, ticket sellers and other theatrical folk in the criminal court room from 5 o'clock until 8:25, nearly three and a half hours.

The Shubert theater suffered the most, as four of the members of its orchestra stopped to get dinner when they were released by Judge Wallace ten minutes after the curtain was supposed to be rung up at the theater. They, as others arrested yesterday, had been arraigned and given bond nearly two hours before Judge Wallace permitted them to leave the court room. Two deputy marshals stood at the door and forcibly detained everyone whom the court ordered to stay inside.

Just what Judge Wallace was trying to do, after the arraignments were concluded at a few minutes past 6 o'clock, no one seems to have any clear idea. That he succeeded in interfering with week day performances at local theaters, no one questions.


In the words of the law the court held the prisoners after they had given bond, to give them opportunity to withdraw pleas of "not guilty," which their attorneys claimed they had never made. When they declined to withdraw the pleas the court acted for them, assigned their cases to Judge James L. Fort, overruled certain accessory pleadings and then stated that their pleas of "not guilty" be restored to them. If any court's record in the history of the world ever looked like Judge Wallace's record will appear when the stenographer untangles it, it has been expunged from the memory of local attorneys.

The delays started a little before 4 o'clock when the theater people began arriving for arraignment. Judge Wallace was hearing an argument in a larceny case and declined to deal with the crowd of indicted ones until 5 o'clock, over an hour later.

When Deputy County Prosecutor Charles Riehl called the first name, "William Warren," manager of the Auditorium theater, both he and Attorney A. L. Cooper attempted to waive a reading of the indictment in each case. That would have saved half an hour in the sixty-seven arraignments. But Judge Wallace thought they should be read. As each indictment was read in full , the court asked what the plea would be and Attorney Cooper laid a plea in abatement and an application for a change of venue on the clerk's desk, saying that he filed them as his plea. Judge Wallace in each instance said the attorney had not filed the papers, but merely thought he had filed them and ordered the clerk to file a plea of "not guilty for the defendant, standing mute." The bondsman was then called upon and required to stand and be sworn in each individual case. It took time to go through all of this sixty-seven times.


When finally Charles Riehl said, "That's all, your honor," and Clerk "Waxy" McClanahan had remarked, sotto voce, "Bring on a double porterhouse next," the court called the name of William Warren, the first man arraigned.

"Senator Cooper," said the court, "you may now withdraw your plea of not guilty and file your plea in abatement. I will rule on that now."
"The plea in abatement is already filed," replied Attorney Cooper. "The pleas of not guilty was not filed by the defendant but by your honor. I decline to assume the responsibility of touching it. Your honor may withdraw it, if you choose. If any mistake has been made, the court has made it."
"Have you anything to say?" asked the court.

"The defendant and his attorneys standing -- or rather the attorneys sitting mute, the court directs the clerk to withdraw the plea of not guilty for the defendant and to file the defendant's plea in abatement. Do you wish to be heard on the plea of abatement, Mr. Cooper?"
"I desire to be heard on my application for a change of venue, which was filed at the same time. After such an application is filed this court has no jurisdiction to hear anything else in the case."
"The attorney standing mute, the defendants' plea in abatement is overruled. What do you say now, Mr. Warren, guilty or not guilty?"
"I object to the court's trying to make it appear that all this is being done after the bond has been given," said Mr. Cooper.
"The defendant standing mute, the court directs that a plea of not guilty be entered fro him. Now the court will take up the change of venue. Do you wish to argue that now, senator?"
"I object most emphatically to the court taking that up at this time. It was filed two hours ago. The defendant has given bond. He wants to go home to his supper. It will be time for him to go to his theater in a few minutes. I object to this court's interrogating this defendant further. The motion for a change of venue, as filed by me two hours ago, I ask to be granted. As this court is trying to make out that it is filed at this time, I refuse to even consider it."
Judge Wallace replied:
"The change of venue is granted insofar as it does not apply to transferring the case to the judge of the second division of this court. It is assigned to Judge James L. Fort and the trial set for January 7."
It took much longer for the court and the attorneys to go through this rigamarole for each defendant than it did for the original arraignment. As proof, only twelve men went through the second ordeal during the two hours that the court sat with two marshals at the door. It looked as though there would be no termination and County Prosecutor I. B. Kimbrell went out to dinner. Some bitter things were said. Attorney Charles Shannon, who was associated with Senator Cooper, was assigned to remark every thirty-five seconds, "we object," and "we except to the ruling." Several times he interrupted half-finished sentences of the court. Once Judge Wallace turned about sharply and said:
"What are you objecting to now?"
"I don't know," said Shannon, "Whatever it was you said, we object to and also except."
Later on when the crowd became restless, Judge Wallace wasted a good deal of time in asking the attorneys why they did not want to make arguments. When finally Attorney Cooper broke into one of the many controversies between Judge Wallace and Attorney Shannon with a direct and pointed plea that performances in the theaters were being delayed by the court's actions, the judge said:
"I have been very lenient and moderate with the theater people. Do you think they will all promise not to work tomorrow, if I let them go now?"
"I don't know," said Cooper.
"Well, I'll once more be moderate and I'll continue this hearing until 9:30 Monday morning."
"The court doesn't deserve any credit for its moderation," were Cooper's last words.
Attorney Cooper's statement to the court that the people held in the court room were needed at the theaters for the Saturday night performance, was not news to the judge. He had asked Prosecuting Attorney Kimbrell early in the afternoon about this and had been informed that they were needed.