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"PARDON ME"

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

The adverse decision of the Connecticut judiciary board in regard to the Chapman appeal for a new trial foreshadows the defeat of one of the most prolonged and stubborn defenses which has ever featured a criminal trial. Since the newly-discovered evidence on which the appeal was based had been held in reserve as their strongest point by the defense attorneys, its rejection means that Chapman's greatest hope has been lashed. Three stays of execution had been granted because of the mere technicality which grew out of Chapman's being a federal prisoner, and it was a curious bit of irony, that the more convincing plea prepared at the last minute should thus be so abruptly dismissed.

In truth, the hasty disposition of the new evidence was characteristic of the acerbity which has marked the attitude of Connecticut authorities towards the defendant since his arrest. For in refusing to hear the new witnesses, Judge Jennings, the presiding justice of the board, remarked that in his opinion their testimony in no way would have changed the result of the first trial.

Since the trial, however, hinged upon a choice between two sets of conflicting evidence, it is by no means clear that the new evidence consisting chiefly of a confirmation of the defence alibi, would have been altogether negligible. The credibility of this evidence, to be sure, is doubtful, but it compares favorably, nevertheless, with that introduced at the trial. Furthermore the zeal of the attorney-general upon that occasion so far transcended the bounds of ordinary legal ethics as to bring sharp criticism from the journals of opinion. And although circumstantial evidence and the past record of Chapman point very strongly to his guilt, the treatment accorded to him by the Connecticut bench will always be viewed by unprejudiced observers as a sign of the "crime-wave" hysteria which has been undermining the ordinarily cautious procedure of our courts.

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