Solemnly facing iron bars and prison walls,
I assert my love for justice
and my faith in its ultimate triumph.
-John R Lawson
Hellraisers Journal, Saturday June 9, 1917
From the United Mine Workers Journal: John Lawson Is Freed!
From the Journal of June 7, 1917:
Colorado Supreme Court Reverses
Denver, Colo., June 4.—The Colorado supreme court today handed down a unanimous decision, all seven judges present and concurring, reversing judgments against John R. Lawson, who had been convicted by picked judge and jury in the Las Animas circuit court on the charge of first degree murder of a mine guard who fell in an attack upon the Ludlow tent colony, and against Louis Zancanelli, convicted in the court presided over by the same judge, Granby J. Hilliard, ex-coal operators’ attorney, on the charge of killing George Belcher, Baldwin-Feltz mine guard, on the streets of Trinidad, Colo.
The trials accorded these two miners have long been recognized by the decent lawyers and citizens of Colorado as a glaring intentional perversion of justice and a disgrace to the state. The decision rendered by the supreme court, reversing judgment, was based upon the fact that objection was entered by the defense against Judge Hilliard, recognized as an operators’ attorney, who had been appointed special judge by Governor Carlson to try, and convict, miners charged with crimes alleged to have been committed during the strike of 1913-14. After the trials of Lawson and Zancanelli, the supreme court handed down a decision prohibiting Judge Hilliard from trying any others of the strike cases.
The objection raised at the opening of the trial of John R. Lawson and Louis Zancanelli by lawyers for the defense—charging prejudice against Judge Hilliard and challenging his right to preside as judge, was considered sufficient cause for the reversal of judgment by the members of the supreme court. Other objections, equally as well founded, were not considered as the first objection was upheld. The defense had proof that the juries were selected from known enemies of the union miners, including several hired gunmen of the companies; that those of the jurymen who objected to rendering a verdict of guilty had been threatened with starvation, by order of the court, and one juryman in the Lawson case was told that his wife was dangerously ill, thus breaking down his opposition to the iniquitous verdict.
While the eases against John R. Lawson and Louis Zancanelli have been remanded back to Las Animas county for trial, there is little doubt but that the cases will be “nol-prossed” by the present district attorney at the first term of circuit court. Our persecuted brothers are practically free.
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