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125 Years Ago February 1879: In Miller v. Beebe, a slander suit in Essex County, the alleged innuendo was, “You low-lived vagabond! Let me catch you trying to seduce my daughter again!” Beebe demurred and Justice David Depue ruled in his favor, finding that “to call a man a vagrant is not equivalent to a charge of vagrancy and that the second clause does not of itself import a charge of an attempt to commit fornication.” 100 Years Ago February 1904: The Legislature was mulling “an act to extirpate birds,” which would permit farmers to kill off robins on the ground that they destroyed fruit. The Law Journal editors cautioned against tampering with nature’s balance, noting that “the robin tends to rid the earth of a good many pests, and … this is of incomparably greater importance to farmers than the theft of a few cherries.” 75 Years Ago February 1929: Director of Public Records Carlos Godfrey, upset at county officials storing vital records in “patent fasteners” rather than stitched tomes, asked the attorney general’s advice on whether the method met a 1913 law’s mandate that volumes be “securely and permanently bound.” Edward Katzenbach replied, “Until such time as the Legislature shall authorize the fastening of books in some method other than which prevails today, to wit, by stitching, I advise you that patent fasteners or devices may not be used.” 50 Years Ago February 23, 1954: With trial impending for John Wesley Wable, charged with the phantom slaying of two truck drivers on the Pennsylvania Turnpike the previous July, the state’s highest court affirmed its ban on news photography in courtrooms. One justice, Michael Musmanno, criticized the general policy, noting that in the Nuremburg trials, “pictures were taken through elevated windows and the court proceedings were not interrupted in the slightest.” 25 Years Ago February 22, 1979: Milton Conford, retiring as top judge of the Appellate Division, won the Law Journal editors’ praise for his judicial reforms and his tireless work with the American Law Institute. “From the days of … Cardozo, Learned Hand and Augustus Hand, no one from the New Jersey judiciary has taken the time to make a studied contribution to the ALI development of the law, other than Chief Justice Vanderbilt and Judge Conford,” they wrote.

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