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Witness Edna Ferber has called it "chie" to attend the trial. Enzo Fiermonte declared it a "knock-out," while Dolly Madison of the Young Republicans brought her knitting and completed only three stitches. Clifton Webb called it "heart-breaking" and Jack Benny was assured "this was serious business." Lynn Fontanne thought Hauptmann a handsome young man, while the former Mrs. Jack Dempsey was sorry for him whether he was "guilty or not." Hence, whatever Cleric Burns, the interrupter on Tuesday, tried to say, seemed quite immaterial.
But Mr. Frances McDonald of the New York Goodwill Court, has pointed out that the Reverend's outbreak was more than an isolated incident, worthy of special note. In murder trial after murder trial, all over the land, courthouses have been swarmed with people who have no business there. Flemington was not unusual. In a French-revolution air, the courtroom was suffocated with people eating, people chewing, people drinking ginger ale from quart battles, people demonstrating in every conceivable fashion their contempt for the court. Mr. McDonald recalls an eminent alienist's examination of a row of 12 women at the Loeb-Leopold trial; only one of the 12 did not readily exhibit recognizable signs of psychosis.
Scarcely a day went by at Flemington without both the prosecution and the defense being pestered by the mentally infirm. Hag after hag claimed she knew the secret of how the kidnaper perpetrated his crime. Copies of the ransom notes were made to substantiate each individual's "confession." Yet what right have picnic parties to break up solemn proceedings? Why should the insane get away with contempt of court? Executions are officially witnessed, yet barred to the public. Why should murder trials be open to the public--when the "public" which swarms to the kill is mainly lunatics and monomaniacs?
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