Sunday, May 8, 2016


The Cortland Democrat, Friday, March 11, 1892.

   We were in error last week in stating that a suit in which John B. Cottrell was complainant and Clarence Miller defendant, brought before Judge Barber, had been transferred to Cortland. An effort was made in that direction, we learn, but it failed.
   On Friday the court convened again, Judge [Justice] Barber on the bench, assisted by Judge F. A. Crosley, now son-in-law of John B. Cottrell. The prisoner Miller, who had been running loose for several days on bail was arraigned and the arrangements for trial commenced. H. L. Bronson, Esq., of Cortland, was counsel for prisoner, and Ed. Crosley, the father of the side Judge [F. A. Crosley] and cousin of the Supreme Judge, also cousin of High Sheriff Barber who arrested the culprit, was prosecuting attorney. The prosecution claimed that said Cottrell had a mortgage upon certain property among which was a double harness nearly new; that some of the family went to said Miller's residence and took what they supposed was the mortgaged harness, but which Cottrell claimed was not the one, so after a while he carried it back and proceeded to take another one which he claimed was a better than the one mortgaged, but Miller refused to let him have it, whereupon Cottrell came away and caused a warrant to be issued by Judge Barber upon a charge of misdemeanor. Miller was taken in behalf of the people.
   Now inasmuch as Sheriff Barber had the prisoner in his keeping, Constable E. P. Burdick was called upon to summon the jury to sit in judgment upon the case as the facts should be revealed. As we understand, the papers did not state anything as to the facts or the nature of the misdemeanor. The twelve men assembled and the drawing began.
   It soon became apparent by the questions put by the brilliant attorney of Scott [Ed. Crosley] to these men who were put under oath that it was a Court of Special Sessions or a sort of inquisition to inquire into the private matters of these jurors and their families.
   We happened to be one to take the examination. Attorney Crosley asked that we be discharged upon the ground that we were prejudiced and would therefore be liable to be impartial in our judgment of the case. Only one of the twelve was convicted and held.
   This part of the show was so interesting and went off so well that a new venire was called for. The Supreme Judge asked the brilliant attorney to write it out, and he in turn asked Attorney Bronson to do it and he knew how. So the constable started upon his mission. This time he got a "Baker's" dozen. One of these who is a cousin of the brilliant attorney, was asked by Bronson if he was related to Attorney Crosley, and he replied he was. Bronson says "How near?" The answer was "Near enough." He was finally excused. Of the twenty-five summoned six were convicted and held. They formed in a line, and swore some. At 9 o'clock in the evening the court took a recess till morning.
   Judge Barber invoked upon the jury to keep their mouths closed as they went out into the evening air and not to talk with anyone during the night. As Friday is hangman's day Miller doubtless breathed easier when he found the evidence would not close that day. The prisoner was taken charge of by the sheriff and residue of the people went to their several hiding places.
   At an early hour the next morning those desirous and those who were compelled convened in the high court or court of last resort from a deep sense of duty or curiosity. Attorney Bronson said during the trial that it was no use for him to object to any questions the prosecution might ask as they would all be overruled by the combination. The day was far spent by the prosecution when the brilliant attorney announced that their evidence was all in. Judge Barber being a merciful man gave the jury a little time for exercise before the defence [sic] should begin to put in their side of the case.
   Upon resuming again Mr. Bronson declared that the defence would not swear any witnesses as the prosecution had made no case and proceeded to sum up the matter. He said the complaint was no good, and that if complainant was refused his harness he had his remedy in a writ of replevy, instead of complaining in behalf of the people. He said a great change seemed to have come over Cottrell, Crosley & Co., since "Hannah died." He proceeded at some length to castigate the prosecuting party, bearing on pretty hard as we judge on some points. Judge Barber threatened to have Bronson committed for contempt of court, but Bronson told him he was not afraid, as there was not one of the firm who could make out the papers. So he went on lashing to his heart's content.
   The Jury brought in "no cause," and Crosley went home bent over with grief or colic. If he is so desirous to practice law we would recommend that he emigrate to some uncivilized country. We could stand the loss with composure.

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