Originally published in Wisconsin Lawyer Vol. 76, No. 4
To celebrate its 75th anniversary, throughout 2003 the Wisconsin Lawyer will include "From the Archives," a monthly column devoted to lively snippets from past issues. Material is quoted directly and attributed when the contributor is known. More in-depth coverage of the magazine's publishing history will appear in September, as part of the State Bar's 125th anniversary celebration this year.
Bravery in times of war
Jan. 1930, at 35: "Official certificates have been issued to Walter P. Melchior, Stevens Point attorney, awarding him both the French and Belgian croix de guerre for distinguished military service in France during the World war. Melchior, a private who had enlisted at Appleton in the 165th infantry, a unit of the Rainbow division, won the awards for fighting during the Champagne defensive, where for more than six hours he led a squad that engaged in hand to hand fighting with bayonets, grenades and pistols."
April 1930, at 90: "Out of 984 cases in 1929 before Judge George Grimm, of the 12th circuit court, all but 57 were settled out of court. This ability to settle differences has won for Judge Grimm the title of 'Settlin' Judge.'"
He knows how to party
April 1930, at 119: "Moses Hooper, dean of the Winnebago County Bar Association, and the oldest practicing lawyer in the United States, observed his ninety-fifth birthday January 21. He celebrated the occasion as usual by being at his desk in his office at Oshkosh."
20th anniversary of Milwaukee Civil Court
July 1930, at 178: "Milwaukee civil courts celebrated the twentieth anniversary of their establishment, on Saturday, April 19. The civil court was established April 19, 1910, to displace justices of the peace. ... The volume of business has run from 2,691 cases in 1910 to over 52,000 cases in 1929."
The spirit of Christmas
Jan. 1931, at 47: "Judge George E. Page, Milwaukee, played Santa Claus recently to an impoverished family, taking to the family of a man he had sentenced to the house of correction two years ago its happiest Christmas. Since the release of the father, he has been unemployed, and his daughter wrote to the judge, pointing out the family's poverty. Judge Page delivered to the family an automobile load of food stuffs, wearing apparel, and toys."
The Seven Lamps of Advocacy
April 1931, at 88: J.G. Hardgrove, State Bar president, gave the main address at a Rock County Bar Association meeting, speaking on the seven lamps of advocacy: honesty, courage, judgment, industry, eloquence, wit, and fellowship. "The attorney is the first contact of the public with the administration of justice. It is through him that the layman receives his first impression of the courts and whole administration of justice," Hardgrove said.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
April 1932, at 108: "Civil Judge A.J. Hedding did not like the mural painting entitled 'Labor,' which the artist, Francis Scott Bradford Jr., placed on the wall behind his desk in the new Milwaukee courthouse. Therefore, he personally purchased mauve colored drapes, which he caused to be hung over the painting, and then placed in front of the drapes a picture of George Washington. There was some objection to this action ... but the judge finally prevailed. The mural painting is of a large woman walking away from the spectators, done in modern style. The weight of opinion, newspaper and otherwise, seems to be in favor of Judge Hedding's treatment of the matter."
No time like the present
Oct. 1931, at 216: "A campaign to get smoother operation in his court by penalizing the tardy was recently carried on successfully by Civil Judge A.J. Hedding, Milwaukee. His plan is this: If plaintiffs or their attorneys are late for their cases, the cases are dismissed and the defendants go free. If the defendants or their attorneys are late, a default judgment is entered against them. This plan was carried out with very satisfactory results and great saving of time on crowded calendars."
Questionable tuition proceeds
April 1932, at 117: H.J. Mortenson, state insurance commissioner, in an address to the Wisconsin District Attorneys' Association, said that "insurance issued by benevolent societies of the post-mortem premiums type are not sanctioned by the state insurance commission; that these benevolent societies should not be confused with the regular fraternal societies, which charge adequate rates and are properly organized. ... Through some societies, a person is permitted to take out a policy on another person, without that person's knowledge or consent, and he cited the case of one university student, who remarked, 'I've made enough out of the death of Mr. X to pay my first year's tuition in the university. If I can pick three more cripples, my university career is assured.'"
Regulating the use of automobiles
April 1932, at 104: At its January meeting, the Rock County Bar Association discussed several proposals that were before a committee of the State Bar Association, including: a compulsory automobile liability insurance law; a requirement that all automobile drivers pass a rigid examination before being granted a license and prohibit driving by those found to be incompetent; and measures to enforce proper inspection of all automobiles, with a view to forcing "$10 wrecks" off the highways, among others. "It was pointed out that the killing and maiming of people by automobiles is incredibly more widespread than were the industrial accidents that led to the workmen's compensation act."
Gangsters and the alibi evil
Jan. 1932, at 52: "(From the Milwaukee Sentinel) District Atty. Herman R. Salen of Waukesha County said, '[Gangsters] always seem able to furnish an alibi and they seldom have any trouble getting witnesses to swear that they were anywhere except where a crime was committed.' Danny Stanton, a Chicago gunman, is wanted in Waukesha for the murder of Chicago gangster Jack Zuta. Gov. Emmerson of Illinois had granted extradition papers, an Illinois criminal court had approved them, but the supreme court reversed the lower court. Why? Ten persons swore an alibi for Stanton, deposing that he was present at a fish fry in Chicago on the night when Zuta was killed in a Waukesha County dance hall. The Illinois Supreme Court preferred to accept the testimony of these witnesses against Col. Calvin C. Goddard, a ballistics expert, who showed that bullets fired from a revolver taken from Stanton had the same markings as bullets found in Zuta's body." Salen, who in 1930 received a threat that he would be "put on the spot" unless he discontinued his investigation into the Zuta murder, bitterly suggested that Stanton's criminal organization protected him by producing alibi witnesses.