SECRET JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES COURT CASES
The nearly 200 miscellaneous Jehovah's Witnesses historical court cases and historical scenarios posted in this five-page section are intended to provide additional enlightenment on the various issues which arise elsewhere within this website. Even highly educated readers will never have heard of most of these cases -- primarily because such have never been cited by liberal authors and reporters whose own writings have been constrained for decades by "political correctness", which dictates the glorification of the Jehovah's Witness Court Cases of the 1920s-1990s. We have also "un-spun" several highly publicized cases so that readers are able to see for the first time the "whole truth" which liberal authors and reporters have censored for decades. Each of the five webpages contains its own multiple shocking revelations.
THE WATCHTOWER SOCIETY'S VERY FIRST CASE
BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
Honest readers will admit that they currently are straining their brains to recall exactly which of the famous late 1930s SCOTUS cases was BOTH the VERY FIRST SCOTUS CASE and was a WIN for the WatchTower Society. Was it LOVELL, or SCHNEIDER, OR CANTWELL? Give yourself an A+ if you said NONE OF THE ABOVE. Well, what case was it, then? Here's another hint. The very first WatchTower Society case heard by SCOTUS was also the ONLY case that has EVER been heard by SCOTUS that involved an OFFICER and DIRECTOR of the WatchTower Society.
How many more reasons should exist for this winning court case to be the best publicized WatchTower Society court case in SCOTUS history? Well, how about the fact that in this case, the Supreme Court of the United States did something procedurally for the very first time in its history. Further, how about the fact that this SCOTUS decision has been cited and discussed for decades in American courts. Surely, you know this case!
In fact, the WatchTower Society and its liberal supporters have intentionally allowed this case to quietly slide through history in obscurity. Obviously, there must be a good reason -- or reasons -- that barely anyone has heard of EX PARTE HUDGINGS, which was a 1919 SCOTUS decision. The subject of this SCOTUS case was William Franklyn Hudgings, who over the years held various Director and Officer positions in the WatchTower Society, and the affiliated People's Pulpit Association and International Bible Students Association. At the time of this case, William Hudgings acknowledged being Corporate Secretary of the People's Pulpit Association, and acknowledged that his daily duties included administrative charge of printing of the WatchTower magazine, the Bible Student's Monthly, the Kingdom News, and other WatchTower publications. Hudgings was also re-elected to the WatchTower Society Board of Directors in January 1919. A 1933 media article even stated that Hudgings was an attorney, although it is not known when Hudgings became an attorney.
William F. Hudgings was held in contempt and jailed on June 11, 1918, during the UNITED STATES v. RUTHERFORD
federal criminal trial in which the President of the WatchTower Society and seven other WatchTower officials were convicted under the Espionage Act of 1917, and spent almost nine months in federal prison, for their publication and distribution of THE FINISHED MYSTERY
. (Although not charged in the RUTHERFORD case, Hudgings was the WatchTower official who applied for the copyright on FINISHED MYSTERY.)
USDC Judge Harland Howe held Hudgings in contempt because Howe believed that Hudgings had committed PERJURY
during his testimony, and in fact, Howe directed that Hudgings be charged with perjury that very day.
Earlier in the trial, William Hudgings' wife, Agnes Hudgings, and another WatchTower official's wife, Mabel (Russell) Campbell, who both worked as secretaries in various WatchTower administrative offices, had been called by the prosecution to testify, so as to prove the authenticity of certain WatchTower documents, and the signatures on such, relating to the publication, printing, and distribution of the FINISHED MYSTERY. The testimony of the two WatchTower secretaries was uncooperative and evasive, if not untruthful, which could also be said of much of the testimony of others from the WatchTower Society during the trial, and Judge Howe essentially allowed the Prosecutor to treat Agnes Hudgings and Mabel Campbell as "hostile witnesses", plus Howe made various remarks which the jury might interpret as indicating that Howe believed that the witnesses were lying.
Later in the trial, after his main testimony, William Hudging was recalled to prove the signatures of two of the WatchTower defendants. William Hudgings testified that he had worked with the two defendants for nine years, but had never seen either sign his name such that he could testifiy as to the authenticity of their signatures. Hudgings even testified that he could not "remember" ever seeing A. H. MacMillan writing anything during the nine years, although their desks were only ten feet apart during the most recent 18 months.
No doubt exasperated by the earlier testimonies of Hudgings' wife and Mabel Campbell, Judge Howe charged William Hudgings with "contempt" only after first giving Hudgings a warning lecture during which Judge Howe stated, "I am not going to allow you to obstruct the course of justice here." The Judge offered Hudgings an adjournment to counsel with an attorney regarding his testimony, but the Judge's efforts to give Hudgings a last opportunity to be more forthright with his answers were unsuccessful. The Judge's error was in doing all this in front of the Jury. [Thereafter, the Prosecutor called former WatchTower Society Vice President, Alfred Ritchie, to testify, and Ritchie truthfully identified the documents and the signatures. A. I. Ritchie, who had disassociated himself from the WatchTower Society, was still being criticised for his truthful testimony, by WatchTower Society heirarchy, in print, four decades later.]
When William F. Hudgings squandered his last chance at complete honesty, he was taken into custody for contempt, on June 11, 1918, and was thereafter charged and indicted for perjury that same day. USDC Judge Thomas Chatfield set bail for Hudgings on the perjury charge, and bail was offered and accepted, but Hudgings remained in jail for contempt. Judge Garvin set trial on the perjury charge for August 17, 1918, but Judge Chatfield refused to proceed with the perjury case until Hudgings was released from the contempt commitment. On July 8, 1918, Judge Howe ordered that Hudgings continue to be commited until Hudgings was willing to purge the contempt charge. Unwilling to acknowledge that his testimony had been less than truthful, Hudgings languished in jail for months.
In mid-November 1918, Hudgings' attorney, Jesse Fuller, sought a Writ of Habeas Corpus from SCOTUS. On November 25, 1918, without first issuing an order for the government to show cause why the Writ should not be issued, and without having held such a proceeding, SCOTUS issued a Writ to produce Hudgings at SCOTUS for a hearing on December 9, 1918. The hearing was held, and Judge's Howe's contempt commitment was vacated, and Hudgings was released from jail only after bail was finally posted on December 12, 1918 -- and not on April 14, 1919, as the Second Circuit stated in its decision to reverse the RUTHERFORD decision because of Judge Howe's open court statements regarding the truthfulness of the testimony of William Hudgings, his wife, and Mabel Campbell. The Second Circuit stated:
We think that the attitude of the court in regard to the testimony of these three witnesses and the action it took in the presence of the jury in the case of the witness William F. Hudgings was most prejudicial to the defendants. It was very likely to intimidate witnesses subsequently called, to prejudice the jurors against the defendants, and to make them think that the court was satisfied of the defendants' guilt. What a judge may say to the contrary on such an occasion will not necessarily prevent such consequences. It is not enough to justify a conviction that the defendant be guilty. He has a right to be tried in accordance with the rules of law. The defendants in this case did not have the temperate and impartial trial to which they were entitled, and for that reason the judgment is reversed.
[Readers should note that the WatchTower Society has quoted that last sentence countless times over the decades, and has always indicated that such was an assessment of the entire trial. In fact, these short segments of the 15-day long trial were the only part with which the USCA found problems. However, such gave the USCA all it needed on which to hang its hat to rid itself of this post-war nuisance.]
On April 14, 1919, in a habeas corpus proceeding, SCOTUS ruled in favor of William F. Hudgings, with one dissenter. HELD: A Federal Court may not punish a witness for contempt solely because of the opinion of the court that he is committing perjury, without reference to any circumstance or condition giving to such perjury an obstructive effect.
... it is indisputable that the punishment for contempt was imposed solely because of the opinion of the court that the witness was willfully refusing to testify truthfully, that is, was committing perjury. ... ... ...
An obstruction to the performance of judicial duty resulting from an act done in the presence of the court is, then, the characteristic upon which the power to punish for contempt must rest. ... in order to punish perjury in the presence of the court as a contempt there must be added to the essential elements of perjury under the general law the further element of obstruction to the court in the performance of its duty. ...
Testing the power to make the commitment which is under consideration in this case by the principles thus stated, we are of opinion that the commitment was void for excess of power --a conclusion irresistibly following from the fact that the [second] punishment was imposed for the supposed perjury alone without reference to any circumstance or condition giving to it an obstructive effect. Indeed, when the provision of the commitment directing that the punishment should continue to be enforced until the contempt, that is, the perjury, was purged, the impression necessarily arises that it was assumed that the power existed to hold the witness in confinement under the punishment until he consented to give a character of testimony which in the opinion of the court would not be perjured.
In 1925, Agnes Hudgings fled from WatchTower HQ, disassociated herself, and filed for DIVORCE. Only a few years thereafter, William Hudgings did the same.
THE "UNCELEBRATED" SECRET 2005 JEHOVAH'S WITNESS SCOTUS VICTORY
BENITEZ v. WALLIS
(consolidated with CLARK v. MARTINEZ
) was a 2005 SCOTUS Victory
which involved a Cuban Jehovah's Witness named Daniel Benitez. In January 2005, in a 7-2 decision, the SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
ruled that "inadmissible aliens"
, who have been court-ordered "removed" from the United States due to their criminal conduct, cannot he held by the U.S. Government for more than six months after the removal order becomes final. Thereafter, if the "inadmissible alien"
can show "no significant likelihood of removal in the reasonably foreseeable future"
, then that alien must be conditionally released. This SCOTUS
ruling allowed the release of about 1000 illegal "Mariel Cuban" immigrants, who were being held "indefinitely" for "removal", practically all due to previous criminal convictions, because Cuba would not accept them back.
The CLARK case was an appeal by the Government from the Ninth Circuit, in which an "inadmissible alien", named Martinez, had been ordered released by the USDC, which was affirmed by the USCA. The BENITEZ case was an appeal by Cuban citizen, Daniel Benitez, who had lost his case for release at both the USDC and Eleventh Circuit levels. The USDC concluded that the I.N.S.'s determinations that Benitez posed a danger to the community, and was likely to engage in further violent behavior, were facially legitimate and bona fide reasons to detain Benitez until removal to Cuba was possible. The USCA agreed.
After his SCOTUS Victory, Daniel Benitez proclaimed:
"I think this is a victory for Jehovah God, who gave us freedom and the right to be free."
Born in Havana, *Cuba, in 1958, Daniel Benitez was reared by his Jehovah's Witness Mother after his father died of a heart attack in 1968. In 1980, Benitez, 22, who was serving prison time for armed robbery, was "shipped" to the United States during the infamous six months long "Mariel Boatlift", which occurred during the Jimmy Carter administration. That was when Fidel Castro forced and/or allowed 125,000 Cubans -- many of whom were convicts, Jehovah's Witnesses, other "undesirables", and especially combinations thereof -- to leave Cuba and enter the United States illegally. Benitez was picked up by the I.N.S. in Key West, in June 1980, briefly detained, placed on "immigration parole" (despite his criminal record), and then allowed to live and work with an Uncle in Miami, Florida. [*Non-JWs should be aware that communist Cuba has a significant JW population. There are roughly 90,000 "active" JWs (those JWs who submit monthly recruiting reports), who attend the 1270 congregations on the island. Approximately 215,000 Cubans attend some JW services. Compare that total with a mere 1,090,000 "active" JWs here in the United States.]
FLORIDA v. BENITEZ. In 1983, Benitez was convicted in Dade County, Florida, of second degree grand theft, but he was only sentenced to three years' probation (probably a plea bargain). Benitez also married a Venezuelan woman in 1983, but they eventually divorced. In 1985, Benitez's application for permanent resident status was denied because of that criminal conviction.
FLORIDA v. BENITEZ. In 1993, Benitez was convicted in Dade County, Florida, of two counts of armed robbery, armed burglary of a conveyance, armed burglary of a structure, aggravated battery, carrying a concealed firearm, unlawful possession of a firearm while engaged in a criminal offense, and unlawful possession, sale, or delivery of a firearm with an altered serial number. This was another "plea deal", so it is not known just how many separate incidents that all of such charges represent. Benitez was finally sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Shortly thereafter, Benitezís "immigration parole" was revoked, and the I.N.S. immediately initiated removal proceedings. In December 1994, the USDC determined Benitez to be "excludable", and ordered Benitez to be "removed". The specifics are not clear, but Benitez apparently was paroled from state prison in 2001, but then held in federal custody under the 1994 removal order. Since Cuba refused to allow his return, Benitez's incarceration was effectively "indefinite".
In September 2003, Benitez was notified that he was eligible for parole contingent on his completion of a drug-abuse treatment program. Benitez completed the program, and on October 15, 2004, Benitez was released from federal custody to a Florida half-way house. Thereafter, Benitez went to live with his older brother, Roberto Benitez, who reportedly is a Jehovah's Witness who lives in Hialeah, Florida. In late March 2005, Daniel Benitez died of an apparent heart attack. There are "hints" that Benitez may have visited WatchTower Society world headquarters, in Brooklyn, just before he died, and if so, probably also the WBTS's Legal Department, in Patterson, New York.
In a statement regarding Benitez's death, the attorney who had represented Benitez in his SCOTUS Victory skirted the fact that Benitez had been reared in a Jehovah's Witness home in Cuba, and had lived amongst Jehovah's Witness family members here in the United States, when he told reporters: "While [Benitez] was in prison, he became a Jehovah's Witness. He was a very spiritual, religious man. I thought he was an extremely good person, and I thought the world of him."
CARBALLO v. LUTTRELL was a similar case to BENITEZ that also bounced around the federal courts in the early 2000s. Reynero Arteaga Carballo arrived in Florida in May 1980, and like Benitez was placed on "immigration parole", after a brief detention. Carballo only admitted a few minor convictions to the I.N.S. Amongst these was a 1973 conviction and six months jail term for unspecified "Jehovah's Witness" activities, and a 1975 conviction and three months jail term for "desertion" from Cuba's military, which likely related to his being a Jehovah's Witness.
FLORIDA v. CARBALLO. After his release, Carballo quickly developed an extensive criminal record. Carballo's first arrest came on August 28, 1980, in Dade County, Florida, for grand larceny, carrying a concealed weapon, and carrying an unlicensed firearm. Those charges were dismissed for unknown reasons.
FLORIDA v. CARBALLO. By early 1983, Carballo's criminal record included at least 16 arrests. The minor stuff included aggravated assault, burglary, battery, trespassing, and possession of marijuana.
In April 1983, Carballo was convicted of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and robbery. In what was probably a plea deal, Carballo received a 21 year prison sentence.
Thereafter, CARBALLO followed much of what happened in BENITEZ. Carballo's "immigration parole" was revoked after the 1983 conviction, and after he was paroled from state prison, in 1994, he was detained by the I.N.S. Shortly thereafter, Carballo was ruled an "inadmissible alien", and ordered "removed". However, given Cuba's refusal to allow such, Carballo was also detained "indefinitely", and he too began the legal journey to freedom. Carballo possibly lost at the USDC level, and won at the USCA level, but may never have been released due to "conditions". Outcome after BENITEZ unknown.
DAVID SEBASTIAN-SOLER v. U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL involved another Cuban Jehovah's Witness benefited by the 2005 SCOTUS decision discussed above. David Sebastian-Soler "immigrated" from Cuba to the United States in 1969; obtained permanent resident status in 1974; and applied to file for naturalization in 1987. At a March 1988 INS proceeding, David S. Soler signed a petition for naturalization that included Soler's intent to take an oath of allegiance should his application be granted. On the back of the form was the Oath of Allegiance for citizenship. Due to his WatchTower beliefs, David Soler signed a modified Oath of Allegiance that omitted the commitments to bear arms on behalf of the Country and to perform non-combatant service in the military.
The INS reviewed Soler's application three times during the next two years and ultimately recommended it be denied because Soler had failed to submit documentation requested back in 1988. In October 1990, Soler sent the requested documentation proving his affiliation with the Jehovah's Witnesses, as well as his official driving record due to his poor driving record. INS recommended approval in March 1991.
In June 1991, the INS mailed notice to Soler informing him of the final hearing on his petition before a USDC in which he was to participate and to take the oath of citizenship. It was returned to the INS. The INS twice more sent notices to Soler's previous address that were returned without his receiving them. In January 1993, the INS notified another final hearing on his petition. In September 1993, INS notified a hearing before the USDC to consider the INS's recommendation that Soler's petition be denied for lack of prosecution. In December 1993, the USDC denied Soler's application.
In May 1992, David Sebastian-Soler began a criminal career that lasted until November 1995, and culminated in his seven-count felony conviction in May 1997. Petitioner was convicted for "Conspiracy to transport, receive and sell Stolen Goods in Interstate and Foreign Commerce" and "Transportation of Stolen Goods in Interstate Commerce".
After October 1990, David Sebastian-Soler did not inquire about the status of his naturalization petition until over nine years later --- in June 2000, while he was serving a 77-month sentence in federal prison for his felony convictions. On Soler's release in September 2002, the INS initiated removal proceedings due to Soler's commission of an aggravated felony. The IJ sustained the charge of removability; found Soler ineligible for relief or asylum; and ordered his removal to Cuba. On appeal the BIA summarily affirmed the IJ's decision, making it the final agency determination on the matter. In May 2005, the USCA dismissed Soler's appeal. However, thanks to the 2005 SCOTUS decision, Soler presumably was released after being held for removal for only six months.
FLORIDA v. BLANCO (1982) was a 1982-2008 Florida murder court decision. (Yes, that's 26 years, and millions of dollars, in wasted time and expense of one state and federal lawsuit after another.) Omar Blanco is another Cuban Jehovah's Witness dumped onto Florida's shores during the 1980 Mariel boatlift, when he was approximately 30 years old. Omar Blanco was reared in Cuba as a Jehovah's Witness by Jehovah's Witness Parents, who reportedly over the years suffered much "persecution" for their WatchTower beliefs. Omar Blanco reportedly also personally suffered "persecution" due to his being a Jehovah's Witness, including one or more jail/prison terms, as reported by a fellow Cuban JW. Little is known about Blanco's adulthood in Cuba, except that he had a wife, or possibly ex-wife, and one or more children. (Blanco remarried after arriving in the United States.) Given that no family accompanied him in 1980, it is a good possibility that he was serving jail/prison time (for what is anyone's guess) when he was shipped to the United States.
FLORIDA v. BLANCO (1981). Limited details. In 1981, Omar Blanco was convicted of armed robbery. Given the following, Blanco evidently did little or no jail/prison time for that conviction. Great call by that judge.
On January 14, 1982, at around 11:00 PM, Omar Blanco illegally entered the Fort Lauderdale home of John Ryan. Ryanís 14 year-old niece was in bed reading when she saw Blanco standing in the hallway, holding a gun, and carrying a brown purse under his arm. Blanco entered her bedroom, told her to stay quiet, and then cut the telephone wires in her room. As Blanco left the room into the hallway, he immediately encountered John Ryan. A struggle ensued during which Blanco shot Ryan. Ryan fell onto the bed, where Blanco shot Ryan six more times before fleeing the home. Blanco left behind his purse, which contained his personal ID. Blanco was apprehended shortly after the murder about a mile and a half from the crime scene. Blanco also was positively identified by the niece. In a June 1982 jury trial, Omar Blanco was convicted of armed burglary, and first degree murder, and was sentenced to the death penalty for the murder of John Ryan.
From 1982 until present, American taxpayers have footed the bill for appeal after appeal, in both state and federal courts. Blanco lost every appeal in state court, until in 1988 and 1991, when two Florida federal judges overturned (and affirmed) his death sentence on the grounds of ineffective counsel. In 1997, in a second state sentencing hearing, Blanco was again sentenced to death, and that sentence was affirmed after multiple appeals. The game is ongoing, and even the latest 2007 Florida Supreme Court decision against Blanco is likely not the last that they have heard from him.
Given that approximately 20% of "Muriel Cubans" admitted to the I.N.S. to having criminal records in Cuba, and given that the percentage of "Muriel Cubans" has been estimated by some as having included a "significant percentage" of Jehovah's Witnesses, it is anyone's guess as to how many similar cases exist.
SAIA v. PEOPLE OF STATE OF NEW YORK was a 1948 Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) decision, which is a criminal case that receives much less publicity from the WatchTower Society, its' Jehovah's Witnesses members, and their liberal supporters. Although SCOTUS reversed the criminal conviction of the Jehovah's Witness defendant/appellant, who was represented by Hayden Covington, it did so only by a narrow 5-4 split decision. The SAIA case deals with the issue of the Jehovah's Witnesses' use of loud-speakers to blast unwilling listeners with WatchTower propaganda.
This court case is especially interesting to this writer, because my own Great-Grandfather also used a loud-speaker to assault people with the message of the WatchTower Society. My Great-Grandfather, who was a Jehovah's Witness, lived in a small rural town, whose population was probably only around 300-400 at that time. Having worn out his welcome calling at his neighbor's doorsteps with WatchTower propaganda, my GGF proceeded to install a loud-speaker on the roof of his house. Whether GGF himself sometimes spoke, or whether he used some type of pre-recording, or hooked the loudspeaker to a radio set, he used the roof-mounted loud-speaker to blast Judge Rutherford's speeches and other WatchTower propaganda to unwilling listeners throughout the small community. My GGF died in 1936. Whether it was because of the use of the loud-speaker and/or other Jehovah's Witness activities, or the fact that shortly before his death GGF shot and killed my JW Grandmother's first husband, GGF's widow and children all moved from that community shortly after his death.
Saia was a resident of Buffalo, New York, who was arrested in Lockport, New York, for violating a city ordinance which regulated the use of loud-speakers and other sound amplification devices. The ordinance required persons wishing to use sound amplification within the city limits to apply for a permit from the Chief of Police. The Chief of Police actually granted Saia a permit for a 30 day period. On four successive Sundays, Saia traveled to Lockport, where Saia set up his equipment in the City Park, and blasted unwilling park visitors with WatchTower propaganda. However, after having received multiple complaints, the Chief of Police refused to renew Saia's permit for an additional 30 day period.
Despite not having the required permit, Saia continued to blast the City Park for four additional Sundays. Such fact would seem to indicate that the Chief of Police was exercising discretion, and that the Chief hoped Saia would discontinue his unwelcomed activities in Lockport. However, Saia was eventually arrested and charged for not having the required permit. Interestingly, the arresting officer reported that when he confronted Saia, that Saia pulled out a bunch of WatchTower supplied legal materials, and started reading from such in an effort to intimidate the officer. Specifically, the officer stated that Saia read materials that stated that if the officer arrested Saia that the officer would be subject to 15 - 50 years in prison, and a $5000.00 fine. Saia was convicted, and thereafter lost two appeals in New York courts, before his case was heard by SCOTUS.
Justice Robert Jackson, who is the Jehovah's Witnesses' oft quoted hero in the WEST VIRGINIA STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION v. BARNETTE (1943) decision, voted against the JW position in this instance. Jackson's dissent likely has played a significant role in making sure that the precedent established by the majority opinion has been interpreted acceptably. Jackson stated, in part:
"I dissent from this decision, which seems to me neither judicious nor sound and to endanger the great right of free speech by making it ridiculous and obnoxious, more than the ordinance in question menaces free speech by regulating use of loud-speakers. Let us state some facts which the Court omits:
"The City of Lockport, New York, owns and maintains a public park of some 28 acres dedicated by deed to 'Park purposes exclusively'. The scene of action in this case is an area therein set apart for the people's recreation. The City has provided it with tables, benches, and fireplaces for picnic parties, a playground and wading pool for children, and facilities for such games as horseshoe pitching, bowling and baseball.
"The appellant, one of Jehovah's Witnesses, contends, and the Court holds, that without the permission required by city ordinance he may set up a sound truck so as to flood this area with amplified lectures on religious subjects. It must be remembered that he demands even more than the right to speak and hold a meeting in this area which is reserved for other and quite inconsistent purposes. He located his car, on which loud-speakers were mounted, either in the park itself, not open to vehicles, or in the street close by. The microphone for the speaker was located some little distance from the car and in the park, and electric wires were strung, in one or more instances apparently across the sidewalk, from the one to the other. So that what the Court is holding, is that the Constitution of the United States forbids a city to require a permit for a private person to erect, in its streets, parks and public places, a temporary public address system, which certainly has potentialities of annoyance and even injury to park patrons if carelessly handled. It was for setting up this system of microphone, wires and sound truck without a permit, that this appellant was convicted - it was not for speaking.
"It is astonishing news to me if the Constitution prohibits a municipality from policing, controlling or forbidding erection of such equipment by a private party in a public park. Certainly precautions against annoyance or injury from operation of such devices are not only appropriate, but I should think a duty of the city in supervising such public premises. And a very appropriate means to supervision is a permit which will inform the city's police officers of the time and place when such apparatusi to be installed in the park. I think it is a startling perversion of the Constitution to say that it wrests away from the states and their subdivisions all control of the public property so that they cannot regulate or prohibit the irresponsible introduction of contrivances of this sort into public places.
"The Court, however, ignores the aspects of the matter that grow out of setting up the system of amplifying appliances, wires and microphones on public property, which distinguish it from the cases cited as authority. It treats the issue only as one of free speech. To my mind this is not a free speech issue. It has in no way denied or restricted the free use, even in its park, of all of the facilities for speech with which nature has endowed the appeliant. It has not even interfered with his inviting an assemblage in a park space not set aside for that purpose. Can it be that society has no control of apparatus which, when put to unregulated proselyting, propaganda and commercial uses, can render life unbearable? It is intimated that the City can control the decibels; if so, why may it not prescribe zero decibels as appropriate to some places? It seems to me that society has the right to control, as to place, time and volume, the use of loud-speaking devices for any purpose, provided its regulations are not unduly arbitrary, capricious or discriminatory.
"But the Court points out that propagation of his religion is the avowed and only purpose of appellant and holds that Lockport cannot stop the use of loud-speaker systems on its public property for that purpose. If it is to be treated as a case merely of religious teaching, I still could not agree with the decision. Only a few weeks ago we held that the Constitution prohibits a state or municipality from using taxsupported property 'to aid religious groups to spread their faith.' People of State of Illinois ex rel. McCollum v. Board of Education, ... Today we say it compels them to let it be used for that purpose. In the one case the public property was appropriated to school uses; today it is public property appropriated and equipped for recreational purposes. I think Lockport had the right to allocate its public property to those purposes and to keep out of it installations of devices which would flood the area with religious appeals obnoxious to many and thereby deprive the public of the enjoyment of the property for the purposes for which it was properly set aside. And I cannot see how we can read the Constitution one day to forbid and the next day to compel use of public tax-supported property to help a religious sect spread its faith.
"There is not the slightest evidence of discrimination or prejudice against the appellant because of his religion or his ideas. This same appellant, not a resident of Lockport but of Buffalo, by the way, was granted a permit by the Chief of Police and used this park for four successive Sundays during the same summer in question. What has been refused is his application for a second series of four more uses of the park. Lockport is in a climate which has only about three months of weather adaptable for park use. There are 256 recognized religious denominations in the United States and even if the Lockport populace supports only a few of these, it is apparent that Jehovah's Witnesses were granted more than their share of the Sunday time available on any fair allocation of it among denominations.
"There is no evidence that any other denomination has ever been permitted to hold meetings or, for that matter, has ever sought to hold them in the recreation area. It appears that on one of the Sundays in question the Lutherans were using the ball park. This also appears to be public property. It is equipped with installed loud-speakers, a grandstand and bleachers, and surrounded by a fence six feet high. There is no indication that these facilities would not be granted to Jehovah's Witnesses on the same terms as to the Lutherans. It is evident, however, that Jehovah's Witnesses did not want an enclosed spot to which those who wanted to hear their message could resort. Appellant wanted to thrust their message upon people who were in the park for recreation, a type of conduct which invades other persons' privacy and, if it has no other control, may lead to riots and disorder. The Court expresses great concern lest the loud-speakers of political candidates be controlled if Jehovah's Witnesses can be. That does not worry me. Even political candidates ought not to be allowed irresponsibly to set up sound equipment in all sorts of public places, and few of them would regard it as tactful campaigning to thrust themselves upon picnicking families who do not want to hear their message. I think the Court is over concerned about danger to political candidacies and I would deal with that problem when, and if, it arises.
"But it is said the state or municipality may not delegate such authority to a Chief of Police. I am unable to see why a state or city may not judge for itself whether a Police Chief is the appropriate authority to control permits for setting up sound-amplifying apparatus. Cox v. New Hampshire, ... . It also is suggested that the city fathers have not given sufficien guidance to his discretion. But I did not suppose our function was that of a council of revision. The issue before us is whether what has been done has deprived this appellant of a constitutional right. It is the law as applied that we review, not the abstract, academic questions which it might raise in some more doubtful case.
"I disagree entirely with the idea that 'Courts must balance the various community interests in passing on the constitutionality of local regulations of the character involved here.' It is for the local communities to balance their own interests-that is politics-and what courts should keep out of. Our only function is to apply constitutional limitations. ... "
In the late 1930s and early 1940s, Jehovah's Witnesses frequently blasted small towns and city neighborhoods with recordings of Judge Rutherford's speeches and other prepared recordings blaring from loudspeakers erected on trucks and autos parked or slowly driven through the towns and neighborhoods. There is no telling the number of times that some of these JWs were arrested for "disturbing the peace", or similar charges, because, again, WatchTower HQ told those local JWs that they had the constitutional right to do so, and to go out and pick a fight with some small community.
VIRGINIA v. TELEVIAK and multiple other. In May/June 1935, the WatchTower Society held its main summer convention in Washington D. C. In an obnoxious attempt to stir up local interest, soundtrucks were sent out into the suburbs to blast unwilling listeners with WatchTower propaganda. Specifically, on Sunday afternoon, June 3, those soundtrucks went out and parked in suburban residential neighbors to relay Judge Rutherford's "public address".
A Jehovah's Witness from Chicago parked his soundtruck in an Alexandria, Virginia, neighborhood, and he was arrested. In retaliation, that night several more soundtrucks, accompanied by an unknown number of door-knockers, were sent into Alexandria to "serenade" the citizens who had dared complain to the police. About 15 of those JWs were eventually arrested for pursuing their "constitutional rights" to bother and pester people who JWs evidently believe have no rights themselves.
CALIFORNIA v. DAVIS and CALIFORNIA v. LAURANT were related 1935 California court cases. In September 1935, a group of Jehovah's Witnesses used one or more soundtrucks to blast residential neighborhoods in San Mateo on a Sunday morning. The arrests were made based on a complaint filed by a local homeowner. In these cases, the local judge dismissed the "disturbing the peace" charge, and let the JWs off with a scolding, which probably greatly disappointed the 100+ JWs who had showed up for the court hearing.
CALIFORNIA v. MILLER was a 1935 California court decision. In September 1935, an "out-of-town" Jehovah's Witness named Miller was arrested for operating a soundtruck to blast a residential neighborhood in the city of Hillsborough on a Sunday morning. The judge suspended the "disturbing the peace" fine, and released the JWs after a sound scolding.
ILLINOIS v. GERMANICH , ILLINOIS v. RICE, ILLINOIS v. LOGSDEN, and ILLINOIS v. DOE were 1936 Illinois court cases. In retaliation for previous successful prosecutions of JWs for distributing literature without seeking licenses as required by local ordinance, the WatchTower Society sent into the City of Wheaton a soundtruck to blast unwilling listeners with WatchTower propaganda. Of the four "out-of-town" JWs in the soundtruck, two refused to pay the fine for their "disturbing the peace" convictions, and both filed appeals. Two JWs smirked at authorities when they entered jail with two suitcases packed in anticipation of spending time in jail.
After being denied permission to canvass the City of Peoria, Illinois, on Sunday morning, October 25, 1936, a caravan of 200 "out-of-town" Jehovah's rolled into town depositing across the city scattered groups of JWs, who proceeded to knock doors and awaken and/or pester citizens who had not gone to church that morning. Readers should bear in mind that this was in a day and age when "soliciting" on Sunday, especially Sunday morning, was considered sacrilegious even by non-churchgoers.
Additionally, the JW caravan included several soundtrucks which were blasting the town with WatchTower propaganda. Two or more of these soundtrucks even stopped outside churches and forced services to halt.
This is one of those occasions which the WatchTower Society and sympathizers frequently cite as: "50, 100, or 200 Jehovah's Witnesses" were "persecuted" for "exercising their constitutional rights", when they were "wrongly arrested" by Police, who were "following the orders of local preachers and priests".
In September 1938, the WatchTower Society held a regional Convention in Hartford, Connecticut. One Maine JW was jailed on an unspecified nuisance charge, which must have been over-the-top given that the local judge was releasing other JW convention-goers with a warning. Two JWs from Massachusetts were released after being arrested for disturbing the peace with a soundtruck, and at least 25 other JWs were released after being arrested for parading without obtaining the required permits.
INDIANA v. CULVER and INDIANA v. DAVIS were two related court cases which involved the two leaders of a "demonstration" conducted in Franklin, Indiana in August 1939. The WatchTower Society sent in approximately 70 "out-of-town" and "out-of-state" JWs to parade in Franklin with signs reading: RELIGION IS A SNARE AND A RACKET. Although annoying to local residents, the police allowed the JWs to parade, but ordered Kenneth Culver, of Indianapolis, and Erman Davis, of Brooklyn, New York, who were directing the marchers from a soundtruck, to stop blasting the town with their loud recordings. When the Dimwitted Duo refused to comply, they were arrested for "disturbing the peace". The Duo were released on $500.00 bond, but Erman Davis was re-arrested for unclear reasons -- either he violated a court order not to leave town, because he was from out-of-state, or he went back out and started using the loudspeakers.
FOUR - FIVE OTHER INDIANA PROSECUTIONS. At the time of the Franklin arrests, Erman Davis and his wife, Carrie Davis, and a different Indianapolis JW, were still dealing with being arrested in Shelbyville, Indiana, only a few weeks previous. What they did in Shelbyville to get arrested is not known, but the three were charged with resisting arrest, desecration of the American Flag, and vagrancy. Erman Davis was obviously a "Zone Servant" for the WatchTower Society, who had been ordered to "stir things up in Indiana". There are also some indications that Erman Davis also stirred up hornet's nests in other Indiana counties, and was probably arrested in Liberty, Indiana, and possibly even was later charged with "perjury" in connection with one of these criminal trials.
SOUTH CAROLINA v. LANGSTON and SOUTH CAROLINA v. GODWIN were two related 1939 court cases which involved a group of JWs which "invaded" Drayton, South Carolina, and developed facts practically identical to the above Indiana cases. The WatchTower Society attempted to to use these cases to get their unrestricted use of loudspeakers pronounced constitutionally protected, on the grounds that unrestricted use of loudspeakers was part of their right to "freedom of religion". However, the South Carolina Supreme Court upheld the two "disturbing the peace" convictions, and, SCOTUS denied certiori and refused to review such in 1940.
FIVE TENNESEE JW PROSECUTIONS. In September 1939, five Jehovah's Witnesses from the Knoxville and Tazewell Tennesse areas, including a female from New Tazewell, named Cole (Linda, or possibly Lilly, or even Lila), were arrested and charged with "disturbing public worship". These arrests stemmed from an incident when the JWs had parked a loud-speaker truck outside the Goins Chapel Baptist Church, and had blasted the church with a WatchTower recording during church services.
Apparently, several understandably irate church-members came out of the church and proceeded to disable the speakers. The JWs then had the nerve to have the church-goers criminally charged for destruction of property. Those charges against the church-members were dismissed, but then the Baptists filed charges against the JWs for "disturbing public worship". The JWs were charged and released on bond. Outcome unknown.
STATE v. HOPKINS, STATE v. JONES, STATE v. DODDS, STATE v. JAMES, and STATE v. STIGERS. A January 23, 1936, incident in McFarland, California resulted in the arrest of five Jehovah's Witnesses -- all from "out-of-town". Christian James and James Stigers, were from Los Angeles, which means that the only two men were from the WatchTower Society's California branch office. The three women, Miriam Hopkins, Mrs. Jimmie Jones (Johns), and Ula Dodds were all from Bakersfield.
On a Thursday, apparently during the noontime recess, the five JWs arrived at McFarland Grammar School in two vehicles. They parked across the street from the school's playground. One vehicle was equipped with loud-speakers, which began to play "military band" music. Once the attention of all the children on the playground had been gained, the loudspeakers began to blare a recording of Judge Rutherford's "Saluting The Flag" speech, which proclaimed that the American Flag was an "idol", and that saluting or pledging the flag was an act of false religious worship worthy of God's vengeance.
It is unclear just how long the five JWs were outside the school, or whether the Principal tried to get them to cease and desist, or whether the JWs refused to stop and/or leave, but the Principal had time to go to a Judge, swear out the complaints, locate a Deputy Sheriff, and then have the five JWs arrested for "disturbing the peace" and "loitering in the vicinity of a public school".
After being arrested, one of the two JW males from Los Angeles asked for his telephone call. It was placed to WatchTower HQ in Los Angeles. During his call, he apparently purposefully talked so that the Police could hear, and it was discussed that three more loud-speaker trucks be sent to "serenade" the city of McFarland. The Police let them know that if more trucks showed up, then all JWs in them would be arrested.
Interestingly, the reason for this illegal demonstration was due to the fact that 3-5 JW children at this school had recently started refusing to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Even more interesting is the fact that instead of suspending the 3-5 JW children, as most all schools were doing at that time, the local school system decided that rather than taking punitive action that school officials would temporarily ignore the JW students' non-participation, and attempt to persuade participation. In fact, that is why the JW leaders attempted to stir up this hornet's nest. Non-participating students at two other local schools had already began to recite the Pledge.
The jail and courts which served the town of McFarland were located in Bakersfield, which likely explains why the two JW HQ Instigators brought along the three JW females from Bakersfield. Sure enough, three weeks later, at trial, the cases were plea bargained down to all charges being dropped against the one male and two females in the second car, who claimed only to have passed out flyers, and the male and female in the loud-speaker truck pled guilty to merely "disturbing the peace".
FOOTNOTE: Christian James died in Utah in 1949, while traveling as a representative of the WTBTS. Local authorities sent telegram notifications to the WTBTS and relatives, but noone responded. They did sufficient research to find out that he was a WWI veteran, so the local Mormon Church gave James a funeral, and the American Legion gave a military burial.
In November 1935, an unidentified JW adult male was ejected from an elementary school and a junior high school in Adams, Massachusetts, after school officials discovered him passing out to students flyers which discouraged the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance.
PEOPLE v. CIOCARLAN and PEOPLE v. FOX and PEOPLE v. PEEL are three consolidated 1947 Michigan Supreme Court cases which have been all but forgotten, because the Jehovah's Witnesses LOST.
On Saturday morning, August 21, 1943, Jehovah's Witnesses fanned out throughout the streets of Detroit, Michigan to advertise the fact that the President of the WatchTower Society was going to give a speech at a local high school on Sunday. John George Ciocarlan, Stella Fox, and Hazel Peel were all cited and later convicted of violating Detroit's ordinance prohibiting any male under 12 years of age and any female under 18 from engaging in "street trades". The JWs appealed and lost. The JWs then appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court, and lost again.
Taking a station at a busy Detroit intersection, John George Ciocarlan, age 52, together with his wife and three daughters, Elizabeth Ciocarlan, age 6, Ruth Ciocarlan, age 8, and Adeline Ciocarlan, age 12, had leaflets for distribution, and sandwich signs telling of the lecture they were advertising. They also had a supply of WatchTower literature. John G. Ciocarlan took his position on the south side of the intersection, while his wife and the three children crossed over to the northwest corner. Elizabeth, the youngest of the children, was holding up in her hand a copy of "Watchtower" and "Consolation" magazines. Elizabeth had a cloth magazine bag suspended by a strap from her shoulder on one side of which was printed the words "The Watchtower explains the Theocratic Government, 5c a copy," and on the other side of which was printed, "Watchtower and Consolidation, 5c per copy." The citing police officer testified that eight year old Ruth also was holding up in her hand copies of the same magazines, and had a similar bag, but Ruth denied this in her testimony. The three children were standing together, and the mother was from about 10-25 feet away from them. The citing police officer testified that there were many people on the sidewalk at that intersection, including "bums". The children testified that they were engaged in this activity for the purpose of preaching the gospel of God's kingdom, and that such was their way of worshipping God.
At another intersection, Stella Fox and her 12-year-old daughter, Dorothy Fox, both were wearing sandwich signs, and both were passing out handbills advertising the lecture, plus had a variety of WatchTower literature for sale. The citing police officer informed Stella Fox that she was breaking the law, but Fox replied that it was her sacred duty to have her child serve Jehovah; that she had placed her daughter Dorothy there; and that she permitted her daughter to do what she was doing.
At another intersection, Hazel Peel and her two sons, Duane Peel, age 8, and Allen Peel, age 10, were all wearing sandwich signs, and were all passing out handbills, plus had a variety of WatchTower literature for sale.
The JW Attorney cited the multiple 1940s court cases overruling various local ordinances which restricted JWs from selling their literature and preaching on city streets. However, the Michigan SC cited Prince v. Massachusetts, and pointed out that SCOTUS had ruled that local governments had broader authority over the activities of children as opposed to the activities of adults: "However Jehovah's Witnesses may conceive them, the public highways have not become their religious property merely by their assertion. And there is no denial of equal protection in excluding their children from doing there what no other children may do."
PENNSYLVANIA v. GEUSS and PENNSYLVANIA v. FLEISCHMANN were related 1949-50 Pennsylvania Supreme Court cases, which, given the cases they lost back in the 1930s and 1940s, are evidence of how the WatchTower Society persisted in their efforts to run roughshod over city governments and commonsense laws designed to protect the rights of all citizens.
Two Jehovah's Witnesses, named Paul S. Geuss (WatchTower Society "Zone Servant") and Erich Fleischmann, were arrested for illegally operating a soundtruck on the streets of Allentown, Pennsylvania, which was used to violate the rights of non-JWs by blasting unwillingly listeners with the "anti-everything" message of the WatchTower Society. A Pennsylvania appellate court denied the appeals of these JWs, who claimed that "anti-noise" laws violated their own constitutional right to freedom of speech and religion. The JWs appealed to Pennsylvania's Supreme Court, and lost. Then, the JWs appealed to SCOTUS, and lost.
PENNSYLVANIA v. RICHARD B. PALMS is an interesting example of what the WatchTower Society expects of its Jehovah's Witness members. Richard Palms was so exemplary at being an "agitator" that the WatchTower Society continuously promoted him over the decades from local Leader, to District Manager, to Zone Manager in Florida, and finally to a position at WatchTower international Headquarters in Brooklyn.
In May 1939, Richard Palms, of Reading, Pennsylvania, led a band of approximately 100 out-of-town Jehovah's Witnesses into Kutztown, Pennsylvania, on a Sunday morning. The caravan included one or more soundtrucks which started blasting the sleepy village with WatchTower sermons. The pack of 100 JWs first staged a parade on the sidewalk along the main street, and then they started ringing doorbells. Reportedly, when homeowners refused to answer their front doors, the pesky JWs went around back and started banging the backdoors. In some instances the JWs forced their way into homes, and would not leave when requested to do so. Richard Palms was charged with directing the persons who comported themselves in the manner described. Palms was initially arrested by the Chief of Police after the Chief observed Palms repeatedly ringing the doorbell and knocking at the door of a homeowner who refused to come to the door. Not to be detered, Palms then even started peeping into the window. Arrests were made only after numerous complaints from local citizens.
In April 1940, Richard Palms led another WatchTower Assault on the village of Bonneauville, Pennsylvania. This time, the local Fire Chief brought a firetruck and hosed down the JWs' soundtruck. Palms had the Fire Chief arrested for assault and battery -- charges that were eventually dismissed at trial. Interestingly, Palms and the other JWs displayed "heavy canes" to the angry townspeople, and Palms' cane was even taken from him by the village Priest. Palms testified that he had not been attempting to strike the Priest, even though he admitted that he had been holding the cane above his head when the Priest tore it from his grip.
PEOPLE v. VAUGHAN was a 1944 California criminal appellate court case which demonstrates the attitude of many Jehovah's Witnesses, as fostered by the WatchTower Society, of not only that period, but even of today. In this 1940s instance, two Jehovah's Witnesses, named Grace Vaughan and Leon Scheerer, were arrested and convicted of disturbing the peace in Los Angeles. The conviction was upheld on appeal.
On a Sunday morning, Vaughan and Scheerer decided to go to the Daily Hotel to perform recruiting activities. Vaughan was a female Jehovah's Witness, and she requested that Scheerer, a male, accompany her to the Daily Hotel, because Vaughan was expecting trouble. Vaughan had performed recruiting activities at the Daily Hotel on at least two previous occasions. Only six weeks earlier, Vaughan had been confronted by hotel employees, and she was told to leave the premises. On that earlier occasion, the Hotel Manager had told Vaughan that the hotel had a rule that required "visitors" to come to the office and ask for the specific "guest" that the visitor wished to see. The Manager explained to Vaughan that her repeated knocking and talking was disturbing the hotel's guests, many of whom worked nights and were day sleepers. However, according to the Manager, Vaughan insisted that the Lord sent her to the hotel; that she had a right to knock at the hotel's doors without the Manager's consent; and that she would continue to do so.
On the Sunday morning in question, Vaughan and Scheerer arrived at the hotel around 9:30 A.M., and began their soliciting by knocking on the doors of the rooms on the second floor of the three-story hotel. By the time the Hotel Manager confronted Vaughan on the second floor, there was also a commotion on the third floor, which was probably caused by Scheerer. The Hotel Manager again told Vaughan that her activities were disturbing the guests who were sleeping, and that the two Jehovah's Witnesses must leave the premises. Per the trial court record:
"The defendants, who appear to have fortified themselves with information on various legal decisions in which their organization has been involved, said to this, 'We have a right to knock on these doors and talk to people.'"
The Hotel Manager then called the police. However, according to the trial court record, the two Jehovah's Witnesses apparently were able to intimidate the two Los Angeles police officers by citing various SCOTUS cases won by the WatchTower Society and other Jehovah's Witnesses. The two police officers told the Hotel Manager that they had no grounds for arresting Vaughan and Scheerer, because no offense had been committed in their presence. Before leaving, the two police officers did tell the Hotel Manager that the staff could use whatever force was necessary to keep the peace. After the police left, Vaughan and Scheerer resumed their solicitations. Thereafter, the hotel's Desk Clerk forcibly pulled Scheerer out of one of the guest rooms, and an argument ensued. Believe it or not, Vaughan then called the police. When the police officers returned, the two Jehovah's Witnesses asked that the Desk Clerk be arrested for "assault and battery". Instead, the Desk Clerk and the two JWs were taken to the police station. There, the two JWs were eventually arrested on the Desk Clerk's sworn complaint of "disturbing the peace".
At trial, the Hotel Manager, the Desk Clerk, and seven or so hotel guests testified as to how Vaughan and Scheerer had disturbed the peace at the hotel on the Sunday in question. One female guest testified that she worked at nights and was asleep when she was awakened by pounding on her door. She turned over and went back to sleep. A few moments later, she was again awakened by pounding on her door. She got up to see who was there and found Vaughan at her door. Vaughan offered the female guest some literature, which was refused. The guest said she was sleepy and tired and did not want to be disturbed. However, Vaughan "kept talking and I closed the door in her face." The guest went back to bed, but again heard pounding on the doors of adjacent rooms, and loud talking outside of her room. She heard a man who rented a room across from her room tell Vaughan, "Get out of here and stay out."
One male hotel guest testified that he worked nights, and that he was in bed when there was a knock at his door. He got up and went to the door, and there found Vaughan. She spoke about her religious views, came into his room, and put some literature on his dresser. He told her he had been working all night, and had been sleeping, and was tired, and that he had no time to talk to her. "She made a statement about I was in the bed and the bed was afire and I was the kind of man who didn't know it was on fire and she wanted to wake me up." Vaughan kept on standing in the doorway talking, and she would not leave until the male guest made several requests. The local appellate court upheld the trial court's criminal conviction of the two Jehovah's Witnesses (who later unsuccessfully attempted to get the California Supreme Court to review and overturn this decision), stating in part:
"Defendants contend that they have a constitutional right to go into the halls of such a hotel as is here involved and knock on the doors of the rooms for the purpose of preaching the gospel and distributing religious literature to the tenants and that the operator of such hotel cannot lawfully exclude them. We doubt whether this claimed right is determinative ... of the case, for even if defendants' presence in the hotel was a proper exercise of such right, we are aware of no decision that freedom of speech, press and religion carries with it a freedom to disturb the peace of others in the manner shown here. We find no such holding in Cantwell v. Connecticut (1940), ... , or in Martin v. Struthers (1943), ... , on which defendants rely.
"But if the right of defendants to enter within the hotel is material, we think they did not have such right, in face of the hotel management's order excluding them. ... The Fourteenth Amendment, on which the defendants base their claims, applies only to action by or under color of the authority of the state; it does not run against the action of private individuals, whether hotel proprietors or others, not purporting to be an exercise of the power of the state. ... From the evidence the place in question appears to be an ordinary hotel, or at least a lodging house. Its character in this respect is not necessarily altered by the fact that many or the majority of its guests are not transients and that some of them occupy their rooms on a monthly basis. ... The guests of such a place are not tenants and have no interest in the realty; they are mere licensees and the control of the rooms, halls and lobbies remains in the proprietor. ... Since the proprietor, rather than the guests, has the control of the place and its lobbies and halls, he may exclude persons such as defendants therefrom, or make rules regarding their admission. In Goldstein v. Healy (1921), ... it is held that the guests of a hotel may invite others to visit them, as of right, and that such invitees are lawfully in the hotel and entitled to the exercise of due care for their safety by the innkeeper; but there the court also held this right of ... the guest to be subject to reasonable regulation by the management. Here there was such a regulation, which the defendants violated; moreover, they had not been invited by any guest to enter and hence this rule is not applicable to the case. In support of their argument on this matter defendants rely mainly on Commonwealth v. Richardson (1943), ... and Martin v. Struthers ... . In the Massachusetts case a statute referring to the person having 'lawful control' of premises was involved and the court held that by reason of the construction and arrangement of the lobbies and halls of the apartment house there in question the tenants had control thereof and the landlord did not. The place in question here had no housekeeping facilities for its guests; as far as appears they occupied single rooms, not suites or apartments; there were no means by which they could control entrance to the lobby or halls and it was clearly not an apartment house. The Massachusetts case is not applicable to it. Martin v. Struthers dealt with governmental action and is not applicable to the conduct of hotel keepers, but it recognizes the right of those in control of private property to exclude therefrom persons on errands like that of defendants. ... ...
"Defendants' further attack on the statute is not against its terms in general but on the ground that it enforcement against them infringes on the rights guaranteed them by the Fourteenth Amendment. We have already sufficiently discussed this matter We are satisfied that the guarantee of freedom of speech, press and religion does not entitle any person to go into a hotel or lodging house, over the objection of the proprietors, and there disturb the peace of the guests, in the manner shown by this record."
HALL v. COMMONWEALTH was a 1948 Virgina Supreme Court decision which ruled that Jehovah's Witnesses do not have the constitutional right(s) to trespass onto privately owned apartment buildings, complexes, or other multi-family residential properties. SCOTUS dismissed the appeal.
In this 1946 instance, Dan Leroy Hall and four other Jehovah's Witnesses persisted on illegally entering and knocking at all the doors of a privately owned and operated apartment building. The apartment manager had them arrested for trespass. At trial, it was explained that the apartment building had a rule that no "visitors" were allowed into the apartment building without being announced to, and approved by, the individual tenant from the front desk. That rule had been explained to Hall on one or more occasions, but Hall and the other JWs refused to comply, and continued trespassing on private property.
The JWs were convicted, but fined only $5.00. They thereafter appealed their case all the way to the Virgina Supreme Court, where they lost a case which any first year law student could have predicted. This was simply one more instance of Jehovah's Witnesses making anyone and everyone "pay" for having the audacity of standing up for their own constititional rights, and not kowtowing to the will of the WatchTower Society.
WATCHTOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY v. METROPOLITAN LIFE INSURANCE COMPANY was a 1948 New York "Supreme" Court decision. Hayden C. Covington handled the case for the WatchTower Society, and LOST! SCOTUS refused to hear the WatchTower Society's appeal.
As part of its investment portfolio, in the 1930s, METLIFE constructed in the Bronx what at that time was the largest apartment complex in the world. Parkchester opened in 1940. On 129 acres were 171 apartment buildings, ranging from seven to twelve stories tall, which housed 12,000 apartments. The population was approximately 35,000 people. The property also had a number of commercial rental units, which were rented to businesses, which provided services to the residential tenants.
From the start, there was an oral rule, which was put into writing in 1944, and modified in 1946, that "NO SOLICITING" was permitted in any of the buildings, with the exception that any individual tenant could invite specified solicitors into their own apartment.
Starting in 1941, and continuing until 1944, "teams" of Jehovah's Witnesses would sporatically violate Parckchester's "NO SOLICITING" regulation. However, starting in 1944, the Jehovah's Witnesses started blatantly thumbing their noses at METLIFE and started soliciting throughout Parkchester on a regular basis. Evidently, Parkchester Security would throw out the JWs only when a tenant complained and the JWs could be located. Having been a JW, I know that the JWs simply made a "game" of this. However, by March 1946, the trespassing by the JWs had finally become a big enough issue that METLIFE decided it needed to be dealt with. A questionaire was mailed to all tenants asking whether the JWs should be stopped from door-knocking. Only 30 responses favored allowing the JWs to continue (probably all JWs themselves). METLIFE notified the JWs that from that time forward, they could only visit those 30 tenants that welcomed their visits.
The WatchTower Society then filed this lawsuit "to have it adjudged that defendant's regulation, ... infringes the constitutional rights of plaintiffs, and that they have an absolute right, despite the regulation, to go at will through any or all the apartment buildings of Parkchester, to propagate their religious beliefs." In fact, the WatchTower Society even sent 700 JWs to again trespass throughout Parkchester seeking additional signatures of tenants who would welcome their visits. They actually obtained 1500 "valid" signatures, along with 200 signatures of people who were not even tenants, but at trial METLIFE showed that most signers did not know what they were signing, or simply signed to get rid of the pests. Interestingly, the Courts ignored this 1500 figure, and worked with the "30" figure originally obtained by METLIFE.
The Trial Court held that METLIFE's regulation was reasonable and valid and was not in violation of any rights of the JWs; pointing out that no case had held "that Jehovah's Witnesses, or others having similar pursuits, have a constitutional right to enter within an apartment house or multiple-dwelling house, against the wishes of its owner or occupants." Judgment was entered, dismissing the complaint and affirmatively declaring that METLIFE's regulation was reasonable and valid, that the regulation had been lawfully and properly applied against the JWs, that the regulation left to each tenant the right to determine for himself whether he wishes to be called upon by Jehovah's Witnesses, and that the JWs who enter the Parkchester apartment houses in contravention of the regulation were trespassers whom METLIFE had the right to remove.
The WatchTower Society appealed, and the Appellate Court unanimously affirmed the trial court's decision. The WatchTower Society then appealed to the supreme court level, which also affirmed the trial court's decision. The Court of Appeals of the State of New York actually had an easy time with this simple case. The court distinguished the facts in this case from those in Martin, Marsh, and others. The Constitution does not afford JWs the right to enter onto private property in order to disseminate their beliefs. In this case, METLIFE only wanted to stop the JWs from entering private property where the JWs were not wanted. Neither was METLIFE attempting to keep JWs from soliciting in any public or quasi-public areas outside of the apartment buildings. The JWs were still allowed to visit the 30 apartments, and any other apartment where the tenant had notified METLIFE that the JWs were welcome.
NEW YORK v. WILLIAM R. THORPE and NEW YORK v. LEWIS VAN DYK were related 1950 NYC criminal court cases. These two NYC Jehovah's Witness Ministers were charged with disorderly conduct, and were represented in local magistrate's court by Hayden Cooper Covington.
On a Saturday morning in February 1950, the two JWs went to the Endicott Hotel, in Manhattan, to pester its guests. Thorpe started knocking doors on the second floor, while Van Dykhead went to the top floor. WatchTower literature was offered, and "contributions" were both encouraged and accepted. The hotel manager was eventually notified, and he located the two JWs and told them to leave the premises. Both JWs refused, and continued their door-knocking. The police were summoned, and the responding NYC police officer first located Thorpe, and told Thorpe to leave. Thorpe insisted that he had the Constitutional Right to preach inside the hotel, and that he would not leave without first being placed under arrest. Thorpe was taken to the lobby by the officer, and in the meantime, the hotel manager located and brought Van Dykhead to the lobby. Both the hotel manager and the officer "trespassed" the two JWs. After making a call box call to his sergeant, the officer released the two JWs with a warning.
The two JWs headed straight back to the Endicott to resume their door-knocking. At some uncertain point, Van Dykhead even telephoned WatchTower HQ to get further instructions. Apparently, they were told to resume door-knocking at the Endicott, because the police were again called, and the two JWs were arrested and charged with "disorderly conduct" after they literally had to be physically restrained from re-entering the Endicott.
The synpathetic liberal NYC judge, named Bushnell, ruled that the JWs had no rights whatsoever to door-knock inside a hotel, and then proceeded to find the two JWs "guilty" of disorderly conduct, before then suspending their sentence, and letting them go.
GOOD v. DOW CHEMICAL COMPANY was a 1951-2 Texas court case prosecuted by Hayden Cooper Covington and Tom S. Williams (see Financial Honesty cases). Readers somewhat versed in the JW constitutional law cases are familiar with the MARSH case, in which JWs were given the right to preach and distribute literature on the streets of company towns, and the multiple state court cases in which JWs were given the right to hold religious services in city parks. What many students don't realize is that there were many similar cases, after those cases, in which JWs attempted to strain even more public access from the courts, but failed.
In this GOOD case, Dow Chemical Company owned a tract of land adjacent to and adjoining others of its properties around Lake Jackson, in Brazoria County, Texas, which Dow had developed into a park and picnic grounds for the social and recreational use of itself, its various departments, employees, and their friends and family. In the wake of the Marsh victory and ruling, Jehovah's Witnesses in Texas began using Dow's private park for their own public WatchTower meetings. When confronted by Dow, the Texas JWs claimed their right to meet on Dow's private property based on Marsh. Dow was forced to obtain an injunction from a local court prohibiting the JWs from using Dow's park. On appeal, the Texas appellate court upheld the injunction on the grounds that Dow's park was not a "public park" in any fashion -- thus making the Texas Jehovah's Witnesses "trespassers".
The GOOD case noted LOUISIANA v. MARTIN, which was a 1941 state court case that preceded MARSH. In the Martin case, a group of Jehovah's Witnesses were convicted of trespass for using the private roadways of a private farm, without permission, to get to houses occuppied by farm laborers. In that case, the Louisiana appellate court had upheld the convictions, stating: "These guaranties of freedom of religious worship, and freedom of speech and of the press, do not sanction trespass in the name of freedom. We must remember that personal liberty ends where the rights of others begin."
NEBRASKA v. CURLEE was a 1950 Nebraska criminal court case. In January 1950, a Jehovah's Witness, named Edward Curlee was convicted of "disturbing the peace", after he refused to leave the premises of an Omaha, Nebraska, apartment building -- not only after being ordered to do so by the owner, but also after he was ordered to do so by Omaha Police. Curlee immediately filed an appeal. Outcome unknown.
As evidence that some WatchTower Society "Zone Servants" apparently were in such dire straits for companions to travel with them to help them distribute WatchTower literature, and probably to make their "numbers" appear larger at "public meetings", when one group of JWs were arrested for "unlawful assembly" in Nebraska in June 1940, one of the JW group was also charged with "intoxication". When he appeared in court the next day along with the unidentified WatchTower Society Couple, who had given "Brooklyn, New York" as their place of residence, he not only pled guilty to the "intoxication" charge, but he even agreed to salute the American Flag in the courtroom in order to have the other charges dropped.
STATE v. MOSER was a 1944 Ohio criminal court case. A Jehovah's Witness named Walter E. Moser, 64, was arrested and charged with two counts of disorderly conduct after two Greenfield homeowners complained to police that Moser refused to exit their property and continued to try to force WatchTower literature on them after they had requested that he leave. The Greenfield Police noted that these were not the first complaints that they had received about Moser. Moser was unable to post bond. Outcome unknown.
WATCHTOWER ET AL v. CITY OF GAINSVILLE was a 1950-3 Texas federal court case, in which the City of Gainsville, Texas, Gainsville's Chief of Police, the County Sheriff, the School Superintendent, and several other city, county, and school officials were sued for $100,000.00 (close to $1,000,000.00 in today's dollars), after the JWs were evicted from a local junior high school while holding a weekend WatchTower convention. Hayden Covington LOST at the USDC level, LOST unanimously at the USCA level, and apparently was denied cert at the SCOTUS level.
In 1949, the school board in Gainsville, Texas, had rented the school auditorium to the JWs for a weekend convention. The JWs used such without any problems on Friday evening, and part of Saturday. However, sometime Saturday afternoon or evening, the 800 attending JWs took an intermisson and went out on the streets of Gainsville and door-to-door to advertise a "public talk" on Sunday afternoon. It is not known what the JWs did, but they apparently "did something" that stirred up a hornet's nest in a town that up until then "obviously" had been fully cooperative with the JWs. Notably, there was even a Kingdom Hall and local JW congregation in Gainsville, which means that the people of this community had locals living amongst them who were JWs, and the community was already use to having JWs regularly call at their doors.
However, by the time the Saturday night program ended, a group of 30-40 angry townspeople showed up with the school superintendent, who presented the JW leaders with a refund check for the weekend rental, and told the JWs that the rental was revoked. When the JWs refused to leave, a confrontation was prevented by local police who made everyone leave.
On Sunday morning, the 800 JWs showed up for the convention, but the school building was closed. A group of 100 or so townspeople arrived and moved the JWs' sound and projection equipment, literature, etc. out of the school to "help" the JWs leave. There is no indication that any damage occurred. At some point, the only reported blow was struck, and it was a JW who struck one of the townspeople on the chest. The JWs apparently re-congregated at the local Kingdom Hall.
In any event, the townspeople apparently were so "non-violent" toward the JWs that there were no arrests of locals nor JWs. Apparently, this example of "non-violence", which got the best of the JWs, so angered the JWs that they filed this FEDERAL lawsuit, which alleged a conspiracy to deny them their constitutional rights. The USDC ruled against the JWs, who then filed an appeal, but Hayden Covington then lost in the USCA also. There was likely an appeal to SCOTUS, where the JWs evidently lost, or we would know more about this case.
Again, readers should keep in mind what is disclosed in the first paragraph above. Local JWs evidently had a good relationship with the local citizens of Gainsville, Texas, but during the influx of "out-of-town" JWs for this convention, something happened to change the locals' opinion. Despite the fact that no arrests were made that weekend, even though there was police presence on both Saturday and Sunday, and the only reported blow was one from a JW, and despite the fact that the JWs did not file any official reports or complaints, during the course of the LOST trial and appeals, and for years afterwards, the losers (JWs) attempted to paint a completely opposite picture of what happened in Gainsville that weekend, and there apparently were rewards for doing so.
First, a WatchTower "Zone Servant" later testified that, instead of stacking the convention materials on the sidewalk outside the school building in an orderly fashion, that their materials had been removed in such a fashion that much was damaged. Then, why was no official complaint filed then and there, while police were present to witness such damage?
Second, one single JW male was admittedly "kidnapped" from the scene on that Sunday. The JWs did report this "verbally" to the police, but they apparently were not even worried enough about that JW's safety to even bother to file an official complaint. One reason might have something to do with the fact that when asked to comment on such by a local reporter, one of the "JW leaders" stated that the "kidnapped JW" was given the ride out of town because "he talked too much".
Interestingly, for years thereafter, that JW painted a picture of being beaten, driven to Oklahoma, dumped, and told that he would be "hanged" if he ever returned to Gainsville. Sometime not long afterwards, that JW was rewarded by the WatchTower Society by "inviting" he and his wife to attend Gilead (WatchTower's Missionary School), and then spending only two years in Central America, before being brought back to do more recruiting in Texas.
Some of the missing facts are that this "Massachusetts JW", of Italian descent, had just arrived in Texas not long before the Gainsville convention, and that he and his wife evidently were "special pioneers" (paid WatchTower recruiters) after converting to the JWs in 1946. (It is not typical that a JW reach that level in less than three years after converting. This guy must have had some "special talent" to have been relocated from Massachusetts to Texas in such a short space of time.) Additionally, Gainsville, Texas is located on the Oklahoma border, and this JW was driven to the first major town in Oklahoma. If he had been "beaten", then why did he not file charges with either Texas or Oklahoma state authorities? This was 1949, not 1939. And, why were federal charges not filed with the FBI with regard to the "kidnapping"?
All of this tells me that, at the time, the JWs did not want state or federal law enforcement to investigate everything that occurred that weekend in Gainsville, Texas, but preferred to wait and make up their own tales, which could be told later on as they saw fit. Does anyone really believe that fellow Texan Hayden Covington was not directing everything the JWs did that weekend, and afterwards?
As just one more example of how the WatchTower Society and its Legal Department continued to pick "fight" after "fight" with anyone and everyone they could after the end of World War II, Jehovah's Witnesses "bullied" city governments over the use of public buildings and property, and also Boards of Education over the use of school buildings. There were literally dozens, if not hundreds of lawsuits and threatened lawsuits against local school systems. In contrast, some city councils were so scared of being sued by the JWs, that other local groups were asked to give up previous committments so that the local facility could be used by the JWs on the dates desired, city councils approved the hanging of Covention banners across city streets, etc.
WATCHTOWER ET AL v. AMBRIDGE BOARD OF EDUCATION was a 1950 Pennsylvania court case, which was settled out-of-court essentially after the school system caved-in to the JWs demand that they be allowed to use the High School auditorium for a three-day convention in March 1950.
WATCHTOWER ET AL v. WOOD CO. BOARD OF EDUCATION was a 1950 Ohio appellate court decision in which an Ohio court ruled against the JWs, who claimed that a school board's refusal to rent a school auditorium for use for a weekend WatchTower convention violated the JWs' constitutional rights. The Ohio Supreme Court refused to hear the JWs' appeal, which, as usual, resulted in the JWs running all over the state of Ohio trying to rent school buildings, and then filing lawsuits against any school board that did not kowtowed to their demands. Lawsuits or threatened lawsuits followed in communities such as Bowling Green and East Liverpool.
WATCHTOWER ET AL v. KANAWHA CO. BOARD OF EDUCATION was a 1955 West Virginia appellate court decision. When the Kanawha County (Charleston, West Virginia), school board denied the JWs' rental request in 1954, the JWs sent them a threatening letter, which read in part:
"It is definitely unlawful for the board of education to discriminate against religious organizations, and grant the use of such facilities to the light opera guild, unions, forums, dance recitals, political meetings, teacher associations, and numerous other uses which have been customary practice. ... I feel certain that legal action in this matter would prove embarrassing to the board. I recommend that you confer with counsel, as I know he will have to advise that your refusal would violate, not only our state, but also our national constitutions."
A few weeks later, the JWs honored their promise to sue when a lawsuit was filed in state court requesting that the Kanawha County Board of Education be compelled to rent school buildings to the JWs. The lawsuit was dismissed at trial level, and the West Virginia Supreme Court affirmed. The JWs then threatened to take this case to SCOTUS, which refused to grant certiori.
EVEN MORE AND MORE INTERESTING MISCELLANEOUS COURT CASES ON NEXT PAGE!!!
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