Showing 2 results

Archival description
Hoyt, Franklin Chase (1876–1937), American judge
Print preview View:

2 results with digital objects Show results with digital objects

Circular letter by Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

Transcript

Circular letter.

Women’s Cosmopolitan Club, 133 East 40th Street

Nov. 2. {1}

Well! Since I landed at New York on Monday a week ago, I have not had a dull minute. I’ve really been thrilled all the time. So far, I have not begun to sort up my impressions at all—I am much too taken up with receiving them.

This morning I was invited to attend the Children’s Court[.] Judge Hoyt is the permanent Acting Judge in this Court. He is the grandson of Chase {1}, who was a Member of Lincoln’s Cabinet, a man, thirty-five years of age—Conservative in politics but in this matter of reform an enthusiast. He has been educated to his present position by Miss Doty a solicitor & barrister who at present holds an official position as one of the Prison Commissioners. Arriving at the Court, seats were placed for us beside Judge Hoyt who explained the cases to us & handed us the wonderful dossiers supplied with each little offender—giving all details as to parents, character of home, school-record—health record—standard of living & every conceivable fact to be ascertained with regard to the child, his conditions & surroundings.

The Judge has a personal talk to each child brought before him & encourages the child to talk to him & to confess his fault[.] If confessed, he can deal with the matter without any formality. If the offence is denied, the procedure of a trial with witnesses has to be gone through—but it is very informal—the group stands right in front of the Judge—face to face—& there are no police to be seen, unless it is the officer who has arrested the culprit, then he comes up to give his evidence like anybody else & goes away again as soon as his witness is ended. The Parents of the child stand just within call—and the Probation Officers who have first won the confidence of the children, stand beside them to encourage them or to confer with the Judge.

There are 26 Probation Officers attached to the Court, besides missionaries of very denomination—there is also a Guild of “Big Brothers” which the Judge himself has founded—each Big Brother taking voluntary friendly charge of some wayward little brother & trying to pull him through the critical period of his life.

Every child is put under probation for a certain number of months, only in very hopeless cases is he (or she) sent to a Reformatory—as the Judge holds that almost any sort of a home is better for a child than a semi penal institution. The parents are visited & helped by sympathy & advice. About 10,000 children pass through this Court per annum & the greater percentage of these turn out well under the system. A new Children’s Court is now being built—here the Judge’s bench is begin done away with entirely, & he will see every case alone—in conference with probation officers, parents etc. Waiting rooms are large airy & comfortable & a special waiting room is set aside for Mothers with babies. We saw 7 cases dealt with in an hour & a half. Most of these were remanded—or were being dealt with at a a second or third hearing after being thoroughly investigated in the meanwhile.

In one case a little boy was arrested by the police intolerantly & in an ill judged way. The small boy gave his version of the story to the Judge, obviously sincerely & truthfully, & his word was taken & the boy was discharged quite kindly & left the Court. Judge Hoyt is very proud of the record of the Court for the last four years. Speaking to Miss Doty he said. We have done this thing between us. “You educated me & I have educated the Court[.]”

He would like to have Miss Doty as Assistant Judge to deal especially with the girls. But that would need a Bill being passed in the Legislature, as Women Judges are not yet admitted into the scheme in New York State. There is some hope of such a Bill being passed before very long.

We returned to lunch with Miss Doty & had a most thrilling talk. Before taking up the duties of Prison Commissioner—Miss Doty went to prison for a week as an ordinary criminal. No one knew of her identity except the Head Commissioner who sent her to Sing Sing Prison under the escort of two police officers. Some of her stories of prisoners were simply wonderful. One about a man who was executed for a murder, (in her opinion the man was innocent of the charge) was the most touching I ever heard. They made a compact together to use his story to help save “the kids” & he was writing this story for her up to the very moment that he was taken from his cell for execution. Many other stories she told us till we had to tear ourselves away to keep the next appointment. Tomorrow is the anniversary of her voluntary imprisonment & she is dining with us & we are going together afterwards to the Night Courts, to see how New York attempts to deal with its women prostitutes.

Subsequently today I had an interview with Miss Mullholland who is trying to get a Bill introduced in the Legislature to alter the law that deprives American women of citizenship upon their marriage with aliens. This she thinks will be taken up & passed owing to the women’s votes in the Western States.

Tomorrow the Elections will take place & we shall know how many more Suffrage States are to be added to the record.

This letter only deals with a few hours out of one day. And every day is full.

My own work is going on all the time too. And when I am not listening & learning—I am talking & laying down the law!

I am going to Boston, Washington & Chicago shortly. At the latter place we are invited to stay with Miss Jane Addams at Hull House.

Now I must go. Love & greeting to the circle of dear friends at home.

Emmeline Pethick Lawrence

Yesterday was a typical day. Here is my Diary—

10. a.m. Interview—Mrs Chapman Catt
1.30 Luncheon[.] Miss Lewisohn & friends.
4.0 Tea. Miss Doty & a large circle.
6.30 Dinner. Miss Stanton Blatch.

—————

{1} The inscription at the top of the letter and the date are underlined; the address is printed.

{2} Salmon Portland Chase (1808–1873). Judge Hoyt was the son of Chase’s youngest daughter, Janet, known as ‘Nettie’.

Copy of a circular letter by Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

(Carbon copy of a typed transcript, with two handwritten corrections.)

Transcript

COPY OF A LETTER RECEIVED FROM MRS LAWRENCE
Dated Nov. 4, 1914, 1. a.m.

Election Night.

Although it is one o’clock in the morning, I must try before I sleep to get down some of the impressions of the evening. Miss Doty, whose article in the Century interested me so deeply, and her friend “Elizabeth” (Miss Watson) celebrated the first anniversary of their voluntary imprisonment by dining with me and taking us afterwards to the night court. On the way to the Court we mixed with the Election crowd—The streets were thronged. It was a superb night, the moon just past the full. We reached the Court about 9.30 and were taken to the front place where we could see and hear well. A case was being heard concerning two coloured women—a mother and a daughter. Two detectives, a white man and a coloured man[,] gave evidence of how they had entrapped the younger woman to take into her home first one and the other—The story of detective which was one infinitely shocking {1}—and what I have heard since about this business impresses me still further both with the futility of the system and above all with the terrible power placed in the hands of men against women—a power likely to lead to the most grave abuses. Both mother and daughter poured out a dramatic volume of words and gesture as they sat just in front of the judge, addressing their remarks to him as one would address a man in his office or study—no formalities at all. With what seemed to me extraordinary patience, (after my experience of police courts at home) the judge listened without interruption or comment. Finally he discharged the two women. This action was entirely in accordance with the inner verdict which I had pronounced, (for of course every member in the auditorium has his or her own views on every case)[.] Had I been Judge I should not have hesitated between the two sides—the women excited, voluble, indignant, tearful—and the men whom I would not, I felt as I scanned their faces, have trusted a yard. The Judge then retired to his sanctum and invited us to follow. We were introduced and a conversation ensued. We touched on the case. The Judge I found did not altogether believe the story of the women and was inclined to think them guilty. “But”, he said, “you see in this Court I am both Judge and Jury, therefore I have to give the accused the benefit of every doubt.” When he resumed his seat upon the Bench, he asked me to sit beside him. At the opening of the next case he said to the woman who had been just arrested, {2} “You must understand that you have a right to obtain the services of a lawyer, you have a right to telephone for your friends or mail for them free of charge. You can have your case tried now, or you can have it postponed. But you may have to pass the interval in the detention cells.” The woman elected have her case tried at once. It was a very trivial affair of ringing a house-door bell and causing annoyance to a tenant of the house. The woman denied the wish to annoy and promised not to ring the bell again and was discharged.

Being Election night and the police apparently otherwise engaged, no further cases were forthcoming and the Court rose till midnight. Usually there are many cases of soliciting, which as at home is a penal office {3} for a woman but not for a man. I was told by my friends that women who had to pass through the streets alone at night were constantly pestered by men, but there was no remedy; they just had to put up with it. As in England the legal tradition is that men have to be protected from the temptation of the woman who who† alone is responsible for the social evil. After the Session was over we had another interesting talk with Judge Barlow, who I am told is the best and most fairminded of all the judges, at the Night Court (as in the case of Judge Hoyt) {4} I saw the brighter side of the administration. He invited me to come again on some more typical occasion and was most friendly, reminding me very much of Tim Healy. He wore just a blase† graduate’s gown. I was then taken over the place, introduced to the prison or native police-court Matron, and allowed to enter the cells and to talk to the inmates. The whole place compares very favourably with our police court arrangements. I have not yet seen a prison, but from Miss Doty’s record, the prison conditions seem to be worse than our own.

One great feature of the Court is the total elimination from it of the police. The one or two officers are civilians. This reform dates from 1910. Judge Barlow confessed that he was very much averse to the change at the time, but that its results have been wholly good. Detectives attend as witnesses, but have no privileged status, and are treated exactly as other witnesses, by the Judge. In spite of their good points I am, as I said before, horrified at the methods of the detectives in hunting out prostitutes. In some cases they will take a woman into a saloon and give her drinks for a week, and will tempt her in every way to invite them home. They will confess to letting the women get them supper, to playing cards with them and staying from 11 till 3 a.m. After all this is done they will suddenly turn and arrest them and drag them into court. They have these women entirely in their power, and men being men it is inconceivable that they do not take advantage of their power when it suits them. I would not trust such men, placed in such conditions, one inch. On matters relating to morality and the judicial treatment of sex problems, New York seems to me to be worse than London—though some details of administration are better. The point of view is worse. It seems to me that the women of New York, speaking generally, are much too complacent with regard to this status of their sex in very many respects. We came back and mixed with the crowd again—learnt that Governor Glyn (Democrat) was out and Whitman (Republican) was in, and wondered how this would affect the position of our women comrades Commissioner Doty and Investigator Watson, both holding appointments under State patronage. Could not get any news of Suffrage States, so returned as it was half an hour over midnight already. These two women know New York through and through. If only I could find time to let them take and educate me for a week as they want to do! Miss Watson knows everything there is to be known about women[’]s labour conditions and wages in New York. She is the recognised expert investigator par excellence, and employed on all enquiry commissions. The point of view of both these women is identical with my own[,] while their knowledge of facts is perfectly wonderful. They are completely human in their outlook. We are already great friends and have several plans to carry out together, if time can be found. Truly this is a most fascinating world and I’m learning hard.

Greeting to all friends.
(Signed) E.P.L.

——————

{1} Altered by hand ink from ‘The story of detective [blank] was to me infinitely shocking’. The copyist evidently had difficulty reading the handwriting here.

{2} Comma substituted for full stop.

{3} A slip for ‘offence’.

{4} ‘as … Hoyt’ interlined. Brackets supplied.

† Sic.