UNDER THE AMERICAN SYSTEM THE CHAIN GANG HAS NO PLACE IN THE JURISDICTION AND PROCEDURE OF POLICE COURTS WHERE TRIAL BY JURY IS NOT A RIGHT OF THE ACCUSED. OPINION BY JUDGE EMORY SPEER, IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF GEORGIA, JUNE 28, 1904.

Macon: Burke's Linotype Printshop, 1904. Original stapled and printed gray wrappers with wrapper title, as issued. Presentation copy, inscribed above the caption title: "With compliments of Emory Speer." Fine.
[With] Typewritten letter laid in, signed by Judge Speer, written from his Chambers in Mt. Airy, to William Sayre, Editor of The Evening Standard, New Bedford, Mass.: "Replying to yours of the 21st instant forwarded me at this place, I write to say that it gives me great pleasure to mail you under separate cover a pamphlet containing my decision in the case of Henry Jamison. I am sure you will use it in a practical way toward the amelioration of condition of human suffering for the most trivial causes which my limitations as Judge obliged me but faintly to describe."

Henry Jamison, "a respectable colored man between fifty-five and sixty years of age," was arrested for a "trivial" violation "of a minor municipal ordinance" [disorderly conduct, drunk and disorderly] Arraigned in Recorder's Court "without any indictment, accusation, or written charge of any kind and without any form or semblance of a judicial trial, he was sentenced to pay a fine which he was wholly unable to pay, and then to serve a term of two hundred and ten days on the county chaingang of Bibb county." Such sentences were not unusual in the post-War South: they were a convenient way to circumvent the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished Slavery and involuntary servitude "except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted," See, Blackmon, SLAVERY BY ANOTHER NAME: THE RE-ENSLAVEMENT OF BLACK AMERICANS FROM THE CIVIL WAR TO WORLD WAR II. [Anchor Books: 2008].
Judge Speer [1848-1918] had been a Confederate volunteer in the Fifth Kentucky Regiment. After the War, he practiced law in Georgia and was the State's Solicitor General for several years. President Chester Arthur made him a federal judge in 1885. Judge Speer decided that a mere police court judge, whose jurisdiction was limited to petty offenses for which a jury trial was unavailable, had no power to sentence Jamison to a chain gang.
Speer describes the unpleasant ordeal of the chain gang, which included indiscriminate whipping and other punishments. In closing his eloquent opinion, he quotes from an argument that he himself had made to a jury many years earlier: "A magnanimous people, a just people, they owe it to themselves to be magnanimous and just to the colored people... This is no color line case. It is a negro today. It may be a white man, aye, a white child or a white woman tomorrow. In this court the law is equal for all."
Not in De Renne, Work or LCP. OCLC 79612679 [1- Harv. Law], 44623275 [3- Wesleyan, Boston Ath., U NC] as of June 2021. Item #37665

Price: $1,750.00

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