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"Private detectives, 90 per cent of them, as a class, are the worst lot of crooks and blackmailing scoundrels that live outside DETECTIVE BURNS of prisons." This charge has been reiterated and
emphasized on any and all occasions when a sensational opportunity was at hand, or could be created, by the most conspicuous, if not the most notorious detective of the day, William J. Burns. In view of events of the recent past, the charge demands consideration. It appears that Burns' personal practices and "inside" information have had much influence in his reaching his conclusion and making his charge. It is said by scientists that in some cases in the ego of great wrongdoers or criminals they will describe their own guilt by ascribing it to others; that many a crook has been brought to justice by just this species of ego mania.
It is in view of recent revelations that the bombastic and flatulent mouthings of Detective Burns can be understood that he always did and will, to use his own language, "get the man I am after." In what follows no connection exists in regard to any labor case, but it discloses the trend of mind and the method of Detective Burns and his own characterization of private detectives, of which he is so notorious an example.
It will be remembered that a few years ago there was considerable discussion as to the system of land grabbing and land frauds in the far west. That there was considerable basis that the land of the people and of the Government was being unlawfully and fraudulently stolen, there can be no question. That some men charged were guilty there is no doubt, but that men wholly innocent were convicted by the Burns' methods employed is now fully and officially established.
When the newspapers of the country, a few days ago, published the fact that the President had pardoned Willard N. Jones, of Portland, Oregon, and that the pardon was based upon an official report made to him by United States Attorney-General Wickersham, the following letter was addressed to the President of the United States:
"WASHINGTON, D. C., June 10, 1912. "DEAR SIR: I have read with unusual interest the press reports of the pardoning of Mr. Jones in the land cases. I would esteem it a very great favor if you would have sent to me a copy of the report in the case upon which you issued the pardon. "Thanking you in advance for your courtesy, I remain,
"Hon. Wм. H. TAFT,
"Very respectfully yours,
"President of the United States,
"White House, Washington, D. C."
SAMUEL GOMPERS, President,
To which the following reply was received:
"THE WHITE HOUSE, WASHINGTON.
"JUNE 11, 1912.
"MY DEAR MR. GOMPERS: I have yours of June the 10th. I have great pleasure in sending you a copy of the full report in the case. Sincerely yours,
"Mr. SAMUEL Gompers,
"801 G Street, N. W.,
"Washington, D. C."
"WM. H. TAFT.
The report, which the President received from Attorney-General Wickersham which accompanied the President's letter, disclosing the indisputable evidence of Detective Burns' criminally crooked methods to bring about a conviction of Mr. Jones, follows:
"WASHINGTON, D. C., May 10, 1912.
"IN THE MATTER OF THE APPLICATION FOR PARDON OF WILLARD N. JONES. "The President.
"SIR: On March 1, 1911, you commuted the sentences of Willard N. Jones in effect to four months' imprisonment in the county jail and to pay a fine of $12,000. On March 16th you received a telegram from H. H. Schwartz, formerly Chief of Field Service of the General Land Office, charging irregularities in the filling of the jury box from which grand jurors and petit jurors were drawn in the Jones cases, and also in the trial of the cases, and pursuant thereto you directed a further investigation to be made and that the execution of the penalty be deferred until the investigation be completed. Shortly thereafter additional papers were filed to sustain the charge, and a report was received from United States Attorney McCourt with which he transmitted additional papers formerly belonging to William J. Burns, detective, which were found in the United States Attorney's office. All of these were sent to you April 24, 1911, with a statement that I thought enough facts were submitted to throw a very decided doubt upon the fairness and impartiality in the method of selecting the jury and that in my opinion it would not be just to allow a man to be sent to prison as the result of a trial before a jury procured in the manner in which it was shown by the papers the jury which Jones was tried was selected. I stated further that the papers also tended strongly to show an atmosphere surrounding the whole prosecution which was hardly consonant with the impartial administration of justice. I referred, however, to the fact that the papers had not been submitted to Mr. Francis J. Heney, the attorney who conducted the prosecution and who was at that time in California, and recommended in view of the delay which would result from securing a statement from Mr. Heney, that the sentence be commuted so as to relieve the defendant from actual imprisonment, or if you desired Mr. Heney's statement before acting, that the papers be transmitted to him for an expression of his opinion concerning the points of criticism. On April 28, 1911, you replied saying that you believed the execution of the sentence should be withheld until the papers had been submitted to Mr. Heney for comment and
"Mr. Heney's report, a lengthy document covering seventy-seven pages, dated May 23, 1911, was received by the Department June 28, 1911. Mr. Heney disclaims any knowledge of the matters charged, offers explanations and conjectures regarding the alleged irregularities, and expresses the firm conviction that the charges are baseless. I read the statement and referred it to the Pardon Attorney directing him to look over the report carefully and also the papers and documents which had been received since your prior action on the case, and requested him to inform me whether or not in his opinion there was anything in the papers which should modify the conclusions shown in Mr. Heney's report. This the Pardon Attorney attempted to do. On August 26, 1911, he informed me that he had practically completed the preparation of his report, and although he had reached a fairly satisfactory conclusion, there were matters which he could not settle with absolute certainty from the papers before him and said that he thought it desirable the Department should have at least some statement from Mr. Burns; that he had in my absence caused a telegram to be sent to Mr. Burns inquiring how he obtained possession of the list of names which were in the possession of Captain Sladen and Jury Commissioner Bush prior to the filling of the jury box, to which Mr. Burns replied that there was no truth whatever in the statements that Captain Sladen or the Jury Commissioner had furnished him with advance lists of prospective jurors, and stating that he would look up data and furnish the Department with a complete report of his connection with the matter, which was entirely straight and honorable;
that he expected to be in Washington within a short time and would then make a report, and answer interrogatories by any one interested. Thereupon I directed the Pardon Attorney to delay the completion of the report until he had seen Mr. Burns. Mr. Burns, however, did not make his report, or come to the Department for months afterward, although repeatedly communicated with about the matter.
"The papers received up to this time and reviewed by the Pardon Attorney in connection with Mr. Heney's lengthy report were so voluminous that the Pardon Attorney's brief had reached nearly eighty pages. He delayed the completion of his report styled 'Supplemental Report' until October 10, and then closed it with a statement that he did not think any fair or proper conclusion could be arrived at until the Department had received a complete statement from Mr. Burns, and that it might be necessary to receive statements from others connected with the prosecution; and in view of the size to which his report had grown he thought it would be well to make the result of his further investigations the subject of another communication. This he has done, styling it 'Second Supplemental Report.' It is well that he has done so and that he has delayed his report until this time, as the Department is now in receipt of such further information in documentary form that there is little left to conjecture as to what actually transpired regarding the filling of the jury box and the correctness of the charges made by petitioner and his friends. Fortunately this evidence is of such a character that it will not be necessary for you to follow very carefully the line of reasoning, conjecture, and comparison of documents and reports received, which otherwise would have been required in order to reach, I think, a thoroughly satisfactory and convincing idea of what actually transpired.
"Nor is it necessary to review the offenses of which Jones was convicted, for the reason that if the charges made by him are true it matters little what the offense was; he should not be required to serve a day of imprisonment or be otherwise punished. The facts relating to the conviction are, however, fully set forth in my former report, which is sent herewith.
"It is charged by the defendant and his friends that William J. Burns, who was investigating jurors for Mr. Francis J. Heney, as stated by the latter in a communication to me dated August 23, 1911, sent his agents throughout the several counties from which names of jurors had been taken for the purpose of filling the jury box, and had these proposed jurors investigated prior to the time the box was filled. It is claimed that these agents reported to Burns, and that he was able in some way to control, and did control, the selection of names that went into the jury box; that in this way the jury box was filled with names of persons predisposed to convict, to wit, Democrats, Populists, Socialists, and Republicans belonging to what is known as the Simon faction, who were antagonistic to the so-called Mitchell faction of the Republican party, to which Jones and the persons prosecuted belonged, and that none of the persons objectionable to Burns were selected. It is also claimed that offenses against the public land laws were of such common occurrence by reason of the lax methods employed by the Government officials, or even by their acquiescence, that very many people in that section of the country had made themselves liable to conviction and punishment under a strict interpretation of the law; and that the prosecution, through intimidation by threats of indictment and conviction, compelled witnesses both before the grand jury and petit juries to testify falsely, and that witnesses did testify falsely in the Jones and other cases. These charges have been substantially proven, particularly those relating to the irregularities in the filling of the jury box.
"The Department has in its possession the original reports of Burns' agents to him and those assisting him regarding the names of proposed jurors, which reports were made prior to the filling of the box. Some of the comments upon these names were as follows: 'Convictor from the word go.' 'Socialist. Anti-Mitchell.' 'Convictor from the word go; just read the indictment. Populist.' 'Think he is a Populist. If so, convictor. Good reliable man.' 'Convictor. Democrat. Hates Hermann.' 'Hide-bound Democrat. Not apt to see any good in a Republican.' 'Would be apt to be for conviction.' 'He is apt to wish Mitchell hung. Think he would be a fair juror.' 'Would be very likely to
convict any Republican politician.' 'Convictor.' 'Would convict Christ.' 'Convict Christ. Populist.' 'Convict anyone. Democrat.' Burns favorite way of describing an unsatisfactory juror was to designate him as a 's- -n of a b―h,' and lists are checked as 'S. B.' 'S. B.' etc. Attached to the Polk County list found among Burns' papers is a slip bearing the following endorsement: 'Pat McArthur Checked all on Polk County list who were good; Checked on said list for s▬▬▬▬▬▬s of b———s.'
"The Department also has Burns' original statements of adversely reported names, some in his own handwriting, others typewritten. Evidently Burns, or some one for him, had gone over the reports received and picked out the bad reports and had them typewritten. This was done county by county, with the exception of Multnomah County, concerning which reports are meager, and in practically every instance all of the names on these lists were left out, and occasionally were the only names left out from a particular county unless the name bore a circular check, which indicated that although the name appeared upon the list yet for some reason the proposed juror would be satisfactory. The conclusion is obvious. It would have been a remarkable coincidence for the jury commissioners to have selected for rejection even from one county only the names which were reported upon adversely and which had been collected and typewritten as above stated, but when the situation obtains with substantial uniformity throughout all of the counties save one, it is impossible to reach any other conclusion than that Burus in some way, either with or without the actual knowledge of the jury commissioners, caused the selections to be made in conformity with his wishes. In view of the high regard in which Captain Sladen and the Jury Commissioner were held and the positive statements made regarding the probity of these men, I am disposed to regard it as improbable that they really understood the nature or the extent of what was being done, but there is abundance of evidence, in my judgment, to show that the work was probably done by Burns acting in collusion with Marsh, who was Deputy Clerk at the time. It is noticeable that the positive statements of denial are chiefly in the nature of an assertion that neither Captain Sladen nor the Jury Commissioner could have been implicated in the affair. Even Burns in his first telegram does not reply directly, but says that there is no truth in the statements that Captain Sladen or Bush furnished him with the information; and Mr. Marsh's emphatic statements have been largely of a similar nature. Indeed, some of the information which Mr. Burns secured, and secured so promptly, it would seem could not have been obtained in any other way.
"It is impracticable to go into all the details of the corroborating evidence on this point, but if there were any doubt regarding Burns' connection with the affair and what he actually accomplished it would seem to be set at rest by his own telegram in cipher to Mr. W. Scott Smith, then Secretary to Hon. E. A. Hitchcock, the then Secretary of the Interior, on August 19, 1909, the very date the jury box was filled and on which the grand jury was drawn. The Department has this original telegram. It reads as follows:
"Jury commissioners cleaned out old box from which trial jurors were selected and put in 600 names, every one of which was investigated before they were placed in the box. This confidential.'
"In addition to this an affidavit was received on the 12th instant from C. N. McArthur, who was one of Burns' agents in the field and afterwards Speaker of the House of Representatives of Oregon. Mr. McArthur makes a complete disclosure of the whole situation which leaves no possible ground for doubt. Among other things he states that on or about July 25, 1905 (the jury box was filled August 17, 1905), Burns telephoned to him that he wished to see him in the District Attorney's office, and while there, and in the presence of Francis J. Heney, Burns handed him a typewritten list and said, as nearly as Mr. McArthur can remember: 'Here, Mac, is a list of prospective jurors from several counties. Take it, weed out the s-3 of b-s who will not vote for conviction, and return it to me as soon as possible, for we are going to make up a new jury box, and we want to be sure that no man's name goes into the box unless we know that he will convict, for by Gd we are going to "get" Williamson this time, you can bet your swee life, and we will send this whole d-d outfit to jail where they belong. We are going
to "stack the cards" on them this time.' Mr. McArthur states that he became indignant and told Burns that such methods as he proposed were altogether improper and that no self-respecting man could be a party to them, and Burns replied: 'Any methods are justifiable in dealing with these ss of b-s.' He states further that on or about September 1, 1905, he met Burns, and the latter said to him: 'Well Mac, we weeded out the s- —s of b—s, at least I think we did, and we will "get" Williamson this time, and by G- d we will get the whole d- d crowd. Old Sladen kicked like h-1 because my men worked the lists over before they went to the jury commisioners, but it didn't do the old sn of a b―h any good, and the corrected lists went in anyhow.'
"Mr. McArthur, it is to be remembered, was one of Burns' agents and furnished many of the reports which are on file in the Department. He claims, however, that he did so with great reluctance and under duress, and after much persuasion. He does not state the nature of the duress, but I am informed is willing to do so if you insist.
"There are also on file affidavits of persons who claim that they were induced through intimidation and threats to testify falsely in the Jones case. Such representations in the absence of other corroborating evidence would not be entitled to very great weight, but when it is considered how emphatic have been Mr. Burns' denials and his statements that the whole thing is a tissue of falsehoods from beginning to end, it is apparent, notwithstanding these denials, that the prosecution very probably resorted to intimidation of witnesses also.
"In line with these practices it is further shown that one of the defendants, with Jones, a man named Sorensen, while he was presumptively being tried by the Government, was in the active employment of Burns and received compensation from the Government under the name of George Edwards. In this way Burns kept tab on Jones and the latter relying upon Sorensen because he was a fellow defendant accepted as jurors persons to whom he would otherwise have objected.
"I need not go further in a recital of the high-handed outrageous conduct on the part of officers of the prosecution in these cases. The Government can not properly countenance, nor is it expedient in these times of attacks upon courts and the judicial system of the United States, for it to lend its approval to any such procedure. In the light of the facts as they appear from the documents and reports before the Department, it does not seem to me that any person convicted of land frauds by a jury drawn from the box referred to had a fair and impartial trial. For this reason I feel it my duty to advise you that in my judgment Willard N. Jones should receive a full and unconditional pardon. In this connection I should say that Mr. Burns has been given the fullest opportunity to make a statement. The Pardon Attorney went to New York and interviewed him by appointment, but could not obtain a statement from him, though he informed Mr. Burns that he had with him all of the documents that had been filed, and would be glad to show him every one and receive what comment he had to make. Thomas B. Neuhausen, Burns' right-hand man in the investigation, and also closely connected with Mr. Heney in the prosecution of the cases, has been given an opportunity to make a statement, the Pardon Attorney, informing him of the nature of the representations made and the documents filed and and indicating the conclusions to which the documents unanswered and unexplained must lead. No reply has been received. Such statements as have been secured are of an evasive character or are directly contrary to the documentary evidence before the Department. Even Judge Gilbert has submitted an explanation of his former emphatic statement denying that the charges made could be true. The course of the Executive, however, seems to me to be clear, and that is, he can not countenance the methods employed in the prosecution of these cases by requiring an enforcement of the sentence imposed in the Jones case; and I think also and for the same reason a pardon should be granted to Franklin P. Mays, although my impression is that the man is really very guilty and deserving of punishment.
GEO. W. WICKERSHAM, "Attorney-General of the United States."