125 Years Ago
October 1887: Mercer Beasley Jr., 43, the son of New Jersey’s former chief justice, died by his own hand in Trenton on Sept. 16. The younger Beasley, who had been Mercer County’s prosecutor for 11 years, was a widower and left behind three small children. “He … had at one time a brilliant career before him,” the Law Journal editors observed. “It is said that temporary insanity probably induced the sad act.”
100 Years Ago
October 1912: Cars and trucks were taking over city streets, and Paterson lawyer T.W. Randall said the day of the horse and pedestrian was clearly over. “The automobile is the absolute boss of the road, with no one to say nay,” he wrote. “No spectator can suppose that either man or beast has any rights. If they think they have, let them try to exercise them and then see the maimed and shattered and mangled results.”
75 Years Ago
October 14, 1937: Los Angeles attorney Fred Taft told a lawyers’ group that it was high time the legal profession paid attention to its reputation. The bar, he said, was not in a rut but “in a canyon as deep as that of the Colorado and, like that chasm, the result of ages of undirected activity.” He recited a catalog of legal absurdities, among them “legal fictions that rest on no basis of fact,” “technicalities that confuse judge and jury” and “hoary precedents that smell of grave clothes hundreds of years old.”
50 Years Ago
October 11, 1962: American Bar Association president Sylvester Smith, of Newark, declared it was proper for President Kennedy to send troops to the University of Mississippi to enforce the U.S. Supreme Court’s mandate that James Meredith be admitted as its first black student, despite the ensuing violence that left two men dead. “The solemn legal duty of the executive branch of the federal government to uphold and seek enforcement of the orders of the federal courts was inescapable,” he said.
25 Years Ago
October 15, 1987: A Law Journal survey of New Jersey entry-level associate salaries showed Lowenstein Sandler of Roseland offering top dollar at $60,000, a 9 percent increase from the prior year. The move was sparked by rate hikes at New York City firms, especially Cravath, Swaine & Moore, which had just reached $71,000. Then as now, northern New Jersey shops generally paid more. Running second and third were Newark firms McCarter & English at $57,000 and Sills Cummis & Gross at $55,000.