The Charlotte News

Tuesday, March 12, 1940


Site Ed. Note: "Double Lenience", which may or may not have been by Cash, may or may not have a correct interpretation of the law. We simply don't know enough about how the North Carolina courts of that era interpreted the quoted statute, whether the phrase "may be guilty of a misdemeanor" was interpreted to provide a judge some degree of latitude in sentencing, especially if placing the defendant on probation. In most jurisdictions, unless expressly prohibited by statute on certain crimes, the law affords a judge great discretion as to the type of punishment to be meted as a condition of probation. The language "may be guilty" suggests some discretion by the judge to treat the matter instead as an infraction, and punish accordingly.

So, whether Judge Howard in fact violated the sentencing laws is questionable.

But, we agree that just because one defendant has an astute lawyer and another no lawyer or a lawyer lacking in such astute acquaintanceship with the judge's sentencing habits, is no good reason to enable such leniency in one case if it was not being provided in others where the facts were similar on their face. The facts of the individual drunk driving are not presented, and so we don't know.

Regardless, it does not appear, on the face of the statute quoted anyway, that a sentence on the roads was necessarily a requirement of the law at that time, notwithstanding the ostensible wording of part of that statute. Today, while one won't go to the roads typically, mandatory jail time for second offense drunk driving is the norm rather than the exception. It depends on the law of each state.

"Altruism", also possibly not by Cash, offers up criticism of Claude Pepper of Florida, along with Senator Minton, for not supporting the amendment to the Hatch Law to curb the influence of party machines on state employees, the subject also of "Omissions", on March 6, and "Comedy", on March 7. Pepper, as we have previously pointed out in association with "Committee" of June 7, 1940, perhaps oblivious to this year-earlier criticism by the editorial column, sent a telegram to Cash on April 22, 1941 complimenting The Mind of the South. The telegram came in response to an apparent inquiry by Cash regarding a matter having to do with Senate seniority. When we get to late April, 1941, we shall make note of it again; remind us if we forget. (The links on the page to which we refer you, incidentally, have changed: the W. J. Cash Collection at Wake Forest is now here; the Claude Pepper telegram is here.)

And today's page makes a satirical reference to Seabiscuit. Whether Herblock meant to imply that these various aspirants to the White House were wild and barely tamable young horsies or thoroughbreds chafing at the bit to get to War Admiral, we don't know. Whatever the case, it was soon to be a moot matter on the Democratic side.

The rest of this note is written in dog whistle.






Thank you for your attention.

Double Lenience*

Which In This Case Ran Directly Against The Law

In County Recorder's Court yesterday, a man up for drunken driving ingenuously volunteered the information, through his attorney, that in May, 1939, for the same cause, his driver's license had been revoked for twelve months.

Judge Howard was impressed. He found the man guilty, but, varying his habit of passing out road sentences to second offenders, he let him off with a fine of $200.

In doing so, he went squarely against the law, which allows the court no discretion in sentencing persons who are caught driving while the State holds their licenses. They must do time. The statutes are clear on the point.

Any person whose operator's or chauffeur's license has been suspended or revoked, as provided in this act, and who shall drive any motor vehicle upon the highways of the State while such license is suspended or revoked, may be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than six months, and there may be imposed in addition a fine of not more than $500.

Judge Howard seems to have been doubly lenient in this case. The law specifies mandatory road sentences for anybody caught driving while his license stands revoked, and his own policy has been to send twice-convicted drunken drivers to the roads. We think that punishment for drunken drivers should be by uniform rule, according to the seriousness or the frequency of their offenses, and that a repeater should not be let off with a fine merely because an attorney is astute enough to confess the first offense and throw his client on the mercy of the court.


Mob Spirit Is Plainly Still With Us Yet

In Atlanta there lived a barber who was known sometimes to get drunk and beat his wife. There were laws and courts in Georgia to deal with those offenses. But a gang of masked hoodlums saw a chance to release their bestial itch for brutality, kidnapped the fellow, flogged him to death.

The murderers are still at large. The coroner thinks they had a sort of excuse for their crimes. The Georgia Solicitor-General is very vocal about his militant determination to apprehend the guilty, punish them. And--the Ku Klux Klan in Atlanta hastily announces that it had nothing to do with it, disapproves flogging and intimidation, will aid in apprehending the criminals.

It all sounds familiar enough. Coroners usually are less than indignant about such cases. Solicitors-general are always highly vocal about their determinations. And the Klan always denies everything. It denied having anything to do with the Mer Rouge murders, for example. It is rare for anything ever to come of it all. And it is a rarer thing still for anybody to make a thorough inquiry as to the Klan's relation to the crime.

Good Reason

If Finland Makes "Peace" Britain Is In For It

The British have good reason for their obvious alarm over the negotiations for "peace" in Finland.

If the Finns accept the Russian demands, they are done for as certainly as was Czechoslovakia when it accepted the Munich sell-out. A great part of the Mannerheim Line lies within the territories demanded by Russia. And of course Finnish demobilization will be a part of the price exacted.

Finland, in short, will be rendered helpless, and there is every reason to believe that Stalin's word is no better than Hitler's--that he will proceed to grab all at his early leisure. The proposal to have Italy guarantee Finland's new boundaries is merely an obscene joke.

But the surrender of Finland will not only be a great victory for Stalin, it would be a vastly greater one for Hitler--who, indeed, is the father of the present negotiations. His northern flank will be cleared and the chance of an attack on the Polish backdoor done away with. On the positive side, he will possibly get a submarine base at [name], for the effective harrying of British convoys which now circle far to the North to avoid all but the widest-ranging submarines. And in addition, Russia will be freed to furnish them with supplies.

What's worse is likely to be the effect in the Balkans. For the small nations of that territory are probably going to conclude that British promises of aid are too precarious to be depended on and hasten to make what terms they can with Hitler and Stalin. And--when that happens, there is a very good chance that Mussolini will decide to come to the aid of his "ally," Red-alliance are no Red-alliance, on the theory that if Germany is going to win the war and that if he comes in soon enough he'll get a huge slice of the British and French possessions as a reward.


Only Noble Motives Moved The Boys To This One

They were all actuated by the very noblest motives--those Senators who tried to tie down the amendment to extend the Hatch Law to State employees who draw part of their pay from the Federal Government.

The Hon. Sherman Minton and the Hon. Claude Pepper, for instance, were actuated by great concern for States Rights. That, indeed, was a little startling. Both great men have hitherto revealed no burning concern for the doctrine of States Rights. On the contrary, both have generally denounced it as baloney.

Both smiled on the attempt to purge George, Tydings & Co. And both had backed all New Deal bills, no matter how much they invaded States Rights. But the Hon. Claude explained that Edgar Hoover, the FBI chief, had publicly denounced sheriffs in the Miami territory for aiding and abetting gambling and prostitution rackets--to the great embarrassment of the sheriffs, saying that an election is at hand in Florida. And sheriffs, as Claude did not say, are apt to resent Federal usurpation like that, to take it out on the man at the top of the party organization (say, Claude Pepper) for failing to head it off.

As for the Hon. Minton, his heart, he said, just bled and bled at the thought that the little boys in the Indiana Two Per Cent Clubs were to be denied the privilege of kicking in to aid the good old Democratic Party and good kind Paul McNutt and good kind Sherman Minton, while all the fat cats went right on exercising the right to take in millions for the Republicans. Curiously, Tydings agreed with him.

Not a word, mind you, about anything so crass as the fact that the boys are all beneficiaries of established party organizations ("machines") in their states, and that the backbone of those organizations are state highway departments, welfare departments, etc.--departments whose employees are all paid in part by the Federal Government.


Some Stooge Judges Join The Other Fleeing Fauna

When the ship is sinking the rodents which have fed on the grain in its hold or on the leavings from the galley begin to take to the water and swim for it.

That ancient convention was never more strikingly illustrated than by what is taking place in Louisiana. One after another the members of the old Huey Long gang have been deserting Earl Long as he sought desperately to hold on to some part of the power built up by his brother of the unsavory memory. And now--now it is the Supreme Court of Louisiana.

For years and years that tribunal, packed with Huey's stooges, has almost invariably voted 4-3 in favor of the Long gang whenever his acts were challenged in the courts. But now the four stooges have suddenly run for cover, and the court votes unanimously to refuse Earl Long's agonizing pleas for a permanent injunction closing the books of the State Conservation Department to investigators.

It is probably the pay-off. For, if the New Orleans newspapers are to be believed, those books contain enough dynamite to blast the Long gang for good and all.

Sometimes it looks as if a gang like Huey's is too solidly established ever to be got rid of. But it never works out so. The very fact that its members know that it is based on crookedness makes it extremely vulnerable; they carry a haunting fear about with them all the time. And once a single crack is made in the power of the organization, that fear takes charge of everybody and the machine crumbles like a broken levee before a Mississippi flood.

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