The Charlotte News

Monday, May 19, 1947


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that in Greenville, S.C., the defense had rested in the murder trial of 28 remaining defendants, accused of lynching Willie Earle on February 17, taking him from the custody of the jailer at gunpoint after he had been arrested for the stabbing murder the night before of a Greenville taxi driver. The defense presented no witnesses. Summations to the jury would take place on Tuesday.

The judge granted a directed verdict as to three of the defendants, and dismissed two of the four charges of the indictments against seven others, meaning that the prosecution had failed to present sufficient evidence, assuming all of the evidence to be true, to warrant a finding by a jury that the prosecutor had sustained the burden of proof on each element of the alleged offenses, or, in the case of the acquitted defendants, any potential lesser included offenses. He also ruled that each of the pre-trial written statements made by 26 defendants, as read into evidence by the prosecution, could only be used against each individual declarant, the probable premise for the directed verdicts. It was based on these rulings that the defense rested.

An air of jubilation prevailed in the courtroom, with the other defendants slapping on the back the three acquitted defendants.

It should be noted, as we have indicated in conjunction with the trial in January, 1947 of the two condemned co-defendants, Richard McCain and Jethro Lampkin, in the robbery-murder of a Charlotte man, Thomas McClure, that under modern legal principles, the cases against co-defendants, where there are extrajudicial statements introduced from one defendant alleging participation in the crime by another defendant, would be severed and tried separately under the rule eventually enunciated in Bruton v. U.S., 391 US 123, decided in 1968, based on the Sixth Amendment right to confront and cross-examine winesses presented against the accused, a prior extrajudicial statement being taken under circumstances not subject to such cross-examination.

Had the court in Charlotte afforded the same Constitutional protection to Messrs. McCain and Lampkin as provided the 28 remaining white co-defendants in the Greenville case, albeit still not the severance subsequently recognized as Constitutionally mandated, then the outcome in the earlier case might have been different. But since the two young black men would be executed the following October, there is no way to test that premise. Perhaps it was the fault of defense counsel in the earlier case for not raising a motion for severance based on antagonistic defenses. Perhaps, though doubtful, the court did limit use of the statements, in that case mutual in-court accusations of each other as the shooter in addition to the extrajudicial statements, and it was simply not reported by the newspaper on the front page. In any event, criminal justice in this era and earlier was shoddy and erratic, especially for black defendants. Even in the instant case of the cab driver defendants, attempting to sanitize the 26 admissions and confessions by limiting their use only as against the declarant is obviously of dubious value based on the difficulty of unringing a bell, as explained in the Bruton case—though, being quite accustomed to jury nullification, a good bit easier for an all-white Southern jury in those times to unring the bell for a white defendant than for a black defendant. The celerity with which the two co-defendants in Charlotte were prosecuted and convicted, within four weeks of the murder, and finally executed, within nine months of the murder, underscores the systematized callous view of criminal justice in those times.

Many would like to return to those times of swift justice, not heeding the inevitably attendant cycle of circumstances of economic depression and world wars bred from just that systemically condoned callous indifference to human life, ignoring in the process the long struggle undertaken to bring democratic society out of such quagmire.

Former Congressman Andrew May of Kentucky continued testifying in his trial in Washington for fraud and accepting bribes in connection with war contracts involving the co-defendant Garsson brothers. He contended that he never entered a conspiracy to defraud the Government. He again denied that the loans he made to the brothers had anything to do with war contracts.

The Supreme Court, in a 6 to 3 decision delivered by Justice William O. Douglas in Craig v. Harney, 331 US 367, ruled that three newspapermen of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times had been wrongfully cited and found guilty of contempt of court for publishing several news stories and an editorial re an eviction case of an Army private who sought to retain possession of the building where he operated a cafe. The citing judge had found that the stories and editorial were calculated to prejudice the court in its ruling on a motion for new trial, which he eventually denied. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals had upheld the contempt findings.

The majority opinion stated that the law of contempt was not made "for the protection of judges who may be sensitive to the winds of public opinion", that judges were supposed "to be men of fortitude, able to thrive in a hardy climate." It found that the lower court had not comported with the principles set forth in Bridges v. State of California, decided the day after the attack at Pearl Harbor, and the subsequent case of Pennekamp v. State of Florida, that a "clear and present danger" to the administration of justice was not present in the instant case. "The history of the power to punish for contempt...and the unequivocal command of the First Amendment serve as constant reminders that freedom of speech and of the press should not be impaired through the exercise of that power, unless there is no doubt that the utterances in question are a serious and imminent threat to the administration of justice."

Two separate dissenting opinions were filed, one by Chief Justice Fred Vinson, joined by Justice Felix Frankfurter, and the other by Justice Robert Jackson.

The Court also ruled 5 to 4 in N.L.R.B. v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., 331 US 416, that plant guards deputized by local police were "employees" within the meaning of the National Labor Relations Act such that they could join unions of production employees. The employer, Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., had contended that the guards were, pursuant to the Act, part of management as they were acting in the interest of the employer, directly or indirectly. The majority of the Court, in the opinion delivered by Justice Frank Murphy, rejected that interpretation of the statute.

The dissent of Chief Justice Vinson, joined by Justices Frankfurter, Jackson, and Harold Burton, followed the lower Circuit Court of Appeals decision, without a separate opinion.

Senator Robert Taft predicted that there would be no flat ban on union health and welfare funds under the final conference version of the Taft-Hartley law, presently being reconciled between the House and Senate versions. The House version had contained the ban. The Senate version outlawed the administration of such funds solely by the union. The Senator reported that the day's conference had centered around the complicated issue of defining "employee" under the Wagner Act.

Western Electric striking employees re-established picket lines, causing some restored service to be suspended in certain areas of New Jersey and Illinois. Workers had passed through the picket lines in New York where service was normal. The telephone strike had begun April 7. Other than the Western Electric employees, only a few thousand Bell workers in Michigan remained on strike.

Two Western Electric unions, representing 27,000 workers, reached agreements on raises of 11.5 cents per hour on average.

There was no picketing in Charlotte and all Southern Bell employees had returned to work.

In Winston-Salem, Local 22 of the United Tobacco Workers union objected to a story from former union officials Gene Pratt and Spencer Long supplied to the Winston-Salem Journal, labeling the union as "Communist". In a press release, the union, however, did not deny the accusation. The workers were engaged in a strike against Reynolds Tobacco Company.

The President continued his bedside vigil with his gravely ill 94-year old mother in Grandview, Mo. Mrs. Truman reported that she was feeling better.

He asked Congress to provide immediate attention to his proposed Federal health and disability insurance program.

In Raleigh, Josephus Daniels, celebrating the day before his 85th birthday, expressed his good impression formed from a recent visit to the U.N. conference. He asserted that the key to a peaceful world lay in the U.N. settling international disputes.

"The Carolina Farmer" looks at contour plowing in Hawaii. Don't miss it. You could develop a thriving pineapple farm in replacement of the tobacco.

On the editorial page, "Does the GOP Protest Too Much?" discusses the sparring back and forth between the President and Congress regarding blame for the inflationary economy, the President blaming Congress for not developing a plan after junking price controls, not following through with his Federal housing program, and insisting on tax cuts, while Republican leaders in Congress, such as Harold Knutson of the House Ways & Means Committee, criticized the President for not offering any blueprint to the new Congress.

The back and forth would continue inevitably into the 1948 presidential election campaign. Both sides would continue to disagree and little would get done.

"The Babbling of Mr. Reece" quotes Ralph McGill of The Atlanta Constitution re RNC chairman Carroll Reece of Tennessee for his having failed at his job of being a foxhound by babbling rather than ferreting out the quarry.

Of late, Mr. Reece had become a proponent of a revival of laissez-faire doctrine, that Government had no business meddling in the economy. Most Americans had, however, come to believe that there was a close relationship between the economic and socio-political aspects of the society, such that Government direction and funding was preferred. Mr. Reece conceded this point but believed the people to have been the victims of Communist indoctrination through Marxist-inspired and authored history books taught to the public.

Mr. McGill found the flaw in Republican thinking to be tragic and expressed concern as to what might occur should persons such as Mr. Reece take control of the country in 1948.

The piece thinks it not so serious, as Mr. Reece was a political spokesman, not therefore dealing in logic but rather emotional impact. The Reds to him were a "forensic crutch" to use whenever the facts did not fit the pattern framed by the GOP.

Mr. Reece's babbling was the most effective Democratic tool on the scene and so the editorial is content to have him remain in his position of party leadership.

"The Cotton Fields of Buncombe" tells of Asheville soon to be visited by Hollywood stars, Van Heflin and Susan Hayward, to film preliminary scenes for the film, "Tap Roots".

While pleased that the film company would use a North Carolina setting for its movie, the piece is puzzled by the fact that it was based on a novel by James Street, set in Mississippi between 1858 and 1862. The only connection to North Carolina was the fact that Mr. Street was presently a resident of Chapel Hill.

It fears that the reason for use of Asheville as a backdrop was because of the provincial notion through the country that the South was one vast homogeneous region. Mississippi might be duplicated in parts of the state, but not in Asheville. Asheville was closer to Denver than Jackson.

It concludes that in fairness, location shots for the film biography of Thomas Wolfe, set to be made the next winter, ought be shot in Biloxi or Gulfport.

A piece from the Christian Science Monitor, "Funds Versus Freedom", comments on the Southern Baptist Convention taking the position that accepting public aid for church-sponsored schools would weaken separation of church and state. The position had arisen out of the recent Supreme Court case upholding use of taxpayer dollars to support busing of school children attending Catholic parochial schools, defending the practice against a charge that it violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment on the basis that it was not in any way supporting religious doctrine, but rather providing an incidental and necessary service supplied to other school children.

The Baptists were fearful that it would lead to other areas of Government funding and encroachment on religion.

The piece thinks the Baptists wise, as subsidizing religion could lead to control of it.

But only if the bus driver started proselytizing of Commie doctrines over the loudspeaker on the way to and from the Catholic school, dumb bell.

You crazy people who live in the hypothetical make more out of nothing... What if... What if... What if...

Drew Pearson writes of Josephus Daniels, having just celebrated the previous day his 85th birthday—his last, as he would pass away in January. Mr. Daniels, the last surviving member of the Wilson Cabinet, having been Secretary of the Navy and FDR's boss in the latter's first role in the Federal Government as Assistant Secretary, still wrote a daily column for the Raleigh New & Observer. Mr. Pearson expresses like for Mr. Daniels because, despite having "'walked with kings'", he remained the same.

He was raised in Wilson, N.C., by his mother as his father had died when Josephus was two. At age eighteen, he became editor of the Wilson Advance, and had been primarily a newspaper man since that time.

When he was Secretary of the Navy, he had riled the admirals with proposals such as banning wine and liquor from the officers' mess, insisting on promotions from the ranks, and making a hundred enlisted men per year eligible for the Naval Academy. Though he received much criticism from the brass in that time, in hindsight he was regarded as having accomplished more for the Navy than anyone prior to FDR.

Mr. Daniels stated that he had achieved during his tenure his two great ambitions, managing a baseball team and hearing a brass band play every day.

As early as 1926, Mr. Daniels defended Billy Mitchell and his advocacy of air power, believed that the court martial of him by General MacArthur was unfair. A few years later, in the early thirties, he had advocated, to the consternation of the brass, merger of the Army and Navy into a Defense Department to avoid duplication and promote coordination.

When he retired as Ambassador to Mexico in October, 1941 at age 70 after over eight years in the post, guiding the Good Neighbor Policy and becoming the most liked American Ambassador by the people of Mexico ever sent to occupy the post, most people believed him entitled to rest. But instead, he had gone back to the News & Observer, his first love being journalism.

Every morning of the week, he arose early, wrote his column, then went home for a short rest after lunch, and spent the afternoon writing his book.

Mr. Pearson had seen him in February at the funeral in Shelby of Ambassador and former Governor O. Max Gardner. Mr. Daniels had appeared "as sprightly as any youngster there."

He wishes him well for many years to come.

Mr. Pearson next notes that the best intelligence job abroad was by the FBI, but they were nevertheless ostracized by American embassies who regarded them as "the policemen". While counts and countesses received dinner invitations to U.S. embassies, the G-men did not.

Marquis Childs, still in Albany, N.Y., again discusses Governor Thomas Dewey, focusing on the loyal coterie of young men around him. They were not the usual cigar-chomping politicos who had characterized politics in the country for decades. Instead, they were executive types with college degrees. His Budget Director, 39-year old John Burton, believed in "surplus financing", accumulating a half billion dollars in surplus from maintaining high taxes during and since the war to avoid having to borrow money to make needed improvements.

Mr. Dewey's detractors among Democrats in 1946 had called this fund a campaign slush fund for use in 1948. Many Republicans were envious of the fund.

James C. Hagerty, subsequently press secretary for President Eisenhower for his entire eight years in office, had worked for the New York Times and was Mr. Dewey's executive assistant, performing an able job of public relations.

The rule within the Dewey inner circle was unanimity or get out. Once the Governor had made a decision, there could be no public dissent from within the circle. Admirers of the Governor called the rule efficiency; detractors called it dictatorship.

Samuel Grafton discusses the State Department's trouble obtaining from Congress appropriations for a foreign cultural program and for foreign broadcasts because the statesmen to whom the Department was appealing were not too keen on cultural affairs, were even frightened by anything having to do with art. Sinclair Lewis, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Theodore Dreiser, or Jack London were authors who aroused such fear in these Congressmen.

Good art often criticized the state and was suspicious of the status quo, thus remained separate from the state. So, a problem arose in trying to get funding for promotion of such efforts.

One solution was to send abroad milquetoast art, vapid, void of anything the least bit controversial or critical. But such art invariably made a bad impression, appearing callow and fearful. Such was Nazi art, which never won any admirers for Germany. Russian art suffered from the same malady.

In the realm of art, countries earned points abroad from art which was critical of the home society. Leo Tolstoy had made more friends for Russia than the Czars ever did. Charles Dickens and his criticism of British slums won friends for England. To serve the country, art had to be free.

Ambassador to Moscow Walter Bedell Smith had told the House Foreign Affairs Committee recently that foreign broadcasts had to be of high cultural quality because the Soviet broadcasts were of such standards, that the State Department should be left to select paintings, and that foreign exchange students should be encouraged to study Marx and Engels to understand Russian society.

It was not surprising that Congressmen recoiled at such notions, even coming from an esteemed World War II General, or at paintings they did not understand. They preferred to avoid art completely. It demonstrated that the country had a way to go in growing up.

A letter writer from New York provides a letter he had written to New York Sun columnist George Sokolsky, regarding the controversy surrounding opera soprano Kirsten Flagstad for her having returned to her native Norway prior to Pearl Harbor to be with her family, including her pro-Quisling husband, leading to accusations that she had been, herself, a supporter of Quisling, an accusation she denied. Some of her performances in the United States had been picketed.

He appreciates the editorialization by Mr. Sokolsky and believes that the criticism of Ms. Flagstad was, in the words of Professor E. H. Huse of UNC, appealing to the "illiteracy of the Literate"—a paraphrase of "the ignorance of the educated", coined in 1920 by G. K. Chesterton.

He cites Friedrich Nietzsche's criticism of Wagner for pandering to the German imperial ambitions in "Deutschland Uber Alles", that Wagner had influenced Ms. Flagstad.

He thinks Walter Winchell, an "illiterate solipsist jargoneer", had no right to demand that she be denied for her politics the right to perform in the country. He was a bandwagon jumper and the writer objects to Mr. Winchell having wanted to liquidate 50 million Germans.

A letter gives support to Senator Arthur Capper's bill to ban liquor advertising.

A letter from Inez Flow—who ought by this point to have had her own column in the newspaper, titled aptly "Booze Is Going to Get You Drunk"—, finds an omission in her previous letter of May 14 which had destroyed its meaning: that four-fifths of 15 billion dollars in crime costs, being ascribable to liquor-related crimes, was 12 billion dollars, far in excess of the 3.5 billion collected in government revenue annually from liquor, not, as printed, that the 3.5 billion equated to four-fifths of 15 billion dollars, in fact only about a jigger more than a fifth. She adds that in 1945, the estimated number of drinkers in the country was 40 million, not 43 million as the newspaper had printed.

Now, we see.

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