State Ex Inf. Crow v. Shepherd

Decision Date13 October 1903
Citation76 S.W. 79,177 Mo. 205
PartiesTHE STATE ex inf. CROW, Attorney-General, v. SHEPHERD
CourtMissouri Supreme Court

Respondent adjudged guilty.

Edward C. Crow, Attorney-General, for informant.

N. M Bradley and Karnes, New & Krauthoff for respondent.

MARSHALL J. Robinson, C. J., Brace, Gantt, Burgess, Valliant and Fox JJ., concur.


In Banc

Proceeding for Contempt on Information of Attorney-General.


This is an ex-officio information by the Attorney-General, informing the court that the defendant, as publisher of a certain weekly newspaper at Warrensburg, Missouri, called the Standard-Herald, on the 19th of June, 1903, published in said paper, the following article:

"When a citizen of Missouri stops long enough to think of the condition of affairs in his State, it is enough to chill his blood. A grand jury in Cole county has just found indictments against four members of the highest lawmaking body in the State, and the St. Louis grand jury has heard evidence within the past few months that, if it had the necessary jurisdiction, would have indicted many other members of the State Senate. The Missouri citizen has also seen the Cole county grand jury dissolved before the work mapped out for it was hardly begun, on the advice of the Attorney-General of the State. They also see the Chief Executive sitting passively at his office in the statehouse, not making a move to bring to justice the men who have been proven guilty of boodling in the Missouri Legislature by the St. Louis grand jury, but over whom the authorities of that city have no jurisdiction. And now, as the capsheaf of all this corruption in high places, the Supreme Court has at the whipcrack of the Missouri Pacific railroad, sold its soul to the corporations, and allowed Rube Oglesby to drag his wrecked frame through this life without even the pitiful remuneration of a few paltry dollars. Learned men of the law say that Rube Oglesby had the best damage suit against a corporation ever taken to the Supreme Court. This very tribunal, after reading the evidence, and hearing the arguments of the attorneys, rendered a decision sustaining the judgment of the lower court, which decision was concurred in by six of the seven members of the court. This is usually the end of such cases, and the decision of a Supreme Court, once made, usually stands. But not so in the Oglesby case. Three times was this case, at the request of the railway attorneys, opened for rehearing, and three times was the judgment of the lower court sustained. But during this time, which extended over a period of several years, the legal department of this great corporation was not the only department which was busy in circumventing the defeat of the Oglesby case. The political department was very, very busy. Each election has seen the hoisting of a railway attorney to the supreme bench, and when that body was to the satisfaction of the Missouri Pacific, the onslaught to kill the Oglesby case began. A motion for a rehearing was granted, and at the hearing of the case, it was reversed on an error in record of the trial court and was sent back for retrial. That was in the early part of the year 1902. The case was tried in Sedalia before Circuit Judge Longan, one of the ablest jurists in the State, and we have been informed that no error was allowed to creep into the record at the second trial. Again the jury rendered judgment in favor of Oglesby for $ 15,000, and again the case was appealed to the Supreme Court. An election was coming on, and the railroad needed yet another man to beat the Oglesby case. The Democratic nominating convention was kind, and furnished him in the person of Fox. The railroad, backed by four judges on the bench, allowed the case to come up for final hearing, and Monday the decision was handed down, reversed and not remanded for retrial. The victory of the railroad has been complete, and the corruption of the Supreme Court has been thorough. It has reversed and stultified itself in this case until no sane man can have any other opinion but that the judges who concurred in the opinion dismissing the Oglesby case have been bought in the interest of the railroad. What hope have the ordinary citizens of Missouri for justice and equitable laws in bodies where such open venality is practiced? and how long will they stand it? The corporations have long owned the Legislature, now they own the Supreme Court, and the citizen who applies to either for justice against the corporation gets nothing. Rube Oglesby and his attorney, Mr. O. L. Houts, have made a strong fight for justice. They have not got it. The quivering limb that Rube left beneath the rotten freight car on Independence hill, and his blood that stained the right of way of the soulless corporation, have been buried beneath the wise legal verbiage of a venal court, and the wheels of the Juggernaut will continue to grind out men's lives, and a crooked court will continue to refuse them and their relatives damages, until the time comes when Missourians, irrespective of politics, rise up in their might and slay at the ballot box the corporation-bought lawmakers of the State."

Upon the filing of said information, the court caused to be issued against the defendant, the following citation:

"Whereas, it is represented to our Supreme Court in Banc, by the information of Edward C. Crow, Attorney-General of the State of Missouri, ex-officio (a copy of which information is hereto attached), that you, the said J. M. Shepherd, publisher of a certain weekly newspaper at the city of Warrensburg, Missouri, called the Standard-Herald, did on the 19th day of June, 1903, while the case of H. R. Oglesby, respondent, against the Missouri Pacific Railway Company, appellant, was and still is pending in this court, publish a certain editorial and article then and there charging the Supreme Court of the State of Missouri, and the members thereof, with bribery and corruption, in connection with the action of the court in the disposition of said case; and that you, the said J. M. Shepherd, by said editorial and article aforesaid, published in the said Standard-Herald, did defame, degrade and insult the Supreme Court of the State of Missouri and the members thereof, and did charge the said court and its members with corruption and partiality in the discharge of their official duties, and in the judicial official determination and disposition of said case of Oglesby vs. the Missouri Pacific Railway Company; and that said action in publishing said editorial and article, brings the Supreme Court and the members thereof and the highest department of the judicial branch of the State government, charged with the final disposition and enforcement of law and justice, into disrepute, contumely and contempt, and tends to destroy the power and influence of the court as an independent co-ordinate branch of the State government in the enforcement of the law and the administration of justice, and tends to and does causelessly inflame and incite the prejudices of the people against the said Supreme Court, and tends to and does affect the said court so as to directly obstruct and interfere with and impede the administration of justice in the above mentioned cause, and which said cause is now and here pending in said Supreme Court. Now, therefore, you, the said J. M. Shepherd, are hereby commanded to be and appear before the Honorable Supreme Court of Missouri, in banc, on Wednesday, July 22, 1903, at nine o'clock in the forenoon, at the Supreme Court house in the City of Jefferson, in the county of Cole, in the State of Missouri, then and there to show cause, if any you have, why an attachment should not issue against you for the contempt of this court, in publishing said editorial and article aforesaid, and hereof fail not."

On the return day of the rule, the defendant filed the following return:

"In obedience to the command of this court heretofore made upon him, comes J. M. Shepherd, and for his return to the order to show cause heretofore issued herein, respectfully shows:

"1. That this court has no jurisdiction to hear and determine the charges as contained in said complaint.

"2. That said complaint and information does not state facts sufficient to authorize the issuance of an attachment for contempt of this court.

"3. That it is true that on the 19th day of June, 1903, and long prior thereto, he was and is still the publisher and proprietor of a weekly newspaper published in the city of Warrensburg, State of Missouri, called the Standard-Herald, and that at said date he caused to be published in said newspaper the article set out in full in said complaint.

"4. That he denies the other allegations set out in said complaint and information, and demands strict proof thereof.

"5. Said article was not issued or circulated in the presence or hearing of the court, and was not intended to interfere, nor did it interfere, with any of the business of said court or any of its officers.

"6. That nothing in said article referred to in said information tends to or does it affect the said court so as to obstruct or interfere with or impede the administration of justice by said court.

"7. That at the time said article was published respondent believed the cause therein referred to had been finally disposed of by this court, and if said cause was still pending in this court, he had no knowledge of that fact.

"8. Said complaint and information and the notice issued therein and all proceedings thereunder were and are in violation of section 14, article 2, of the Constitution of Missouri, which provision is specially invoked herein.

"9. That said information and the proceedings thereunder as proposed deny to said Shepherd the right of...

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