125 Years Ago
September 1888: A split Court of Errors and Appeals upheld a statute that gave voters in each county the power to license sellers of liquor for on-premises consumption. The divisive question was whether such power could be delegated to a county, which is not a political subdivision of the state. The majority held, however, that licensure had long been conditioned on application of 12 county freeholders, so there was no reason that power could not be transferred to the voters who elected the freeholders.
100 Years Ago
September 1913: The Legislature had passed a women’s suffrage amendment to the state constitution and had directed it to be published for three months prior to Election Day, when it was on the ballot. But the Senate president, Assembly speaker and secretary of state failed to designate newspapers for publication, and by late August the Woman’s Political Union of New Jersey threatened a lawsuit. The attorney general advised the secretary of state that by then it was impossible to comply with the three-month mandate. Nevertheless, it was decided to begin publication on Sept. 1.
75 Years Ago
September 1, 1938: New York General Sessions Judge Charles Nott Jr. was about to charge a criminal-case jury when it turned out one of the jurors was absent: detained in another courtroom. She had spent the night in jail on an arrest for using a slug instead of a token at a subway turnstile. Declaring a mistrial, Nott remarked, “I’d hate to have anybody with so little respect for the law sit on a jury that was trying me.”
50 Years Ago
September 5, 1963: Recent bar admittee and future judge Harvey Weissbard argued for an end to the six-month clerkship required of all N.J. lawyers. “If there are those who say that it heightens the quality of the profession within our state, I say that in the final accounting, it seriously impairs the quality of justice in New Jersey by discouraging highly competent law school graduates, residents of the state, from returning here to practice,” he said, calling the wages paid clerks “an insult.” Clerkships were replaced in the early 1970s by the Skills and Methods Course, since abolished.
25 Years Ago
September 1, 1988: After a 21-month trial, one of the longest in U.S. history, a federal jury acquitted 20 alleged members of the Lucchese crime family of racketeering and other charges, deliberating only 14 hours on 77 counts. Jurors who spoke with the press afterwards said the panel was exasperated at the length and complexity of the case, which included 89 witnesses, 850 exhibits, a month of closing arguments and more than 100 pages of jury charges. Jury tampering also played a role, as it was later revealed that one juror, a nephew of a Lucchese family capo, was bribed.