Chicago Tribune

MORALS COURT TO OPEN WAR ON VICE
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Judge Olsen Says Novel Civil Suit Has Given Citizens Power to Close Dives.
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OFFICIALS FORCED TO ACT

Chief Justice Harry Olson of the Municipal court last night gave the Bankerís association the "inside" story of the Chicago vice commissionís report, and explained why the present administration is trying to follow the suggestions laid down by that commission month ago.

Although advising his hearers at their annual banquet in Hotel La Salle to "read between the lines," Justice Olson said it was a civil suit in court that really forced the levee to close. He asserted the lid was put on only because the present administration feared private citizens would invoke the courts to enforce the laws when the authorities themselves refused.

Announcing that "graft" and "protection" in the levee would be prevented hereafter. Mr. Olson stated a Morals court would be established on April 1, with one judge in charge of all cases arising from the vice district.

Says Laws Must Be Enforced

"The state and the city," he said, "cannot tacitly permit such important laws regarding public health and sanitation to lie dormant merely because the exploitation of vice has been commercialized and its financial magnates infest and seek to dominate the politics of the city. Should cobwebs accumulate on the furniture of the Morals courtroom, the fact will be due to the inactivity of the second of the second superintendent of police."

A card index will be kept of all persons arrested, not only inmates, frequenters and lessees of property used for improper persons but also the owners.

Judge Olson spoke on "The Administration of Justice in the Modern City." Besides discussing the vice commission report he criticized the present local judicial system. He demanded better representation of Chicago on the state Supreme bench and advocated a complete change in the local judicial system which would place all courts under concurrent jurisdiction with proper subdivisions.

His argument on the selection of judges for the state Supreme court was based on the fact that Chicago gets only one of the seven judges now elected while that judge represents nearly 3,000,000 of the 6,000,000 people of the state.

Relates Findings of Board

"On June 21, 1910," said Judge Olson, going into the question of vice and morals court, "an ordinance was passed by the city council by unanimous vote creating a vice commission, which was appointed on July 5, 1910. After nine months labor it transmitted to the city council its report on existing conditions respecting vice, together with its recommendations for the suppression thereof.

"This commission recommended constant and persistent repression of prostitution should be the immediate method; absolute annihilation the ultimate ideal. In order that such a program might be put in force effectually and unremittingly the commission recommended:

"1. The appointment of a morals commission.

"2. The establishment of a morals court.

"The commission also presented an ordinance for consideration of the mayor and city council, creating a morals commission, to be composed of five persons, the commission of health to be ex-officio a member of the commission.

Civil Case Causes Trouble.

"On July 1, 1912, an important event happened, which set in motion efforts on the part of public officials to prevent the breaking down of law enforcement in regard to this subject. A bill in chancery was filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County by Philo Otis against Shiveley Birely and Cora Abbott, charging one of the defendants was the owner and the other defendant was the lessee of certain real estate lying within the so-called restricted vice district of this city, and adjacent to the premises of the complainant; that defendant, lessee conducted on the premises a disorderly house, with the knowledge and consent of the lessor.

"The papers in the case charged the keeping of such a house was in direct violation of the law of the state and ordinances of the city; not withstanding said prohibitory laws and ordinances, the chief of police of the city promulgated certain rules for the regulation of vice; that vice was fostered and protected within the district under said rules and regulations.

Otisí Contention Upheld

"The plaintiff alleged that to permit the further enforcement of said rules by the duly constituted authorities of the city would be a denial to him of the protection of the law to which he was entitled; and that the conduct of the inmates of the house adjacent to complainantís premises was a constant source of damage to the complainantís premises and depreciated the sale and rental value thereof. An injunction was prayed for to enjoin the further maintaining of said house. The house was closed by the strong arm of the chancery court.

"The action of the distinguished chancellor was a warning to executive officials that private citizens had the power, independent of them, to set in motion a force not hitherto utilized in the warfare upon vice. The chancery court on a proper showing could summarily close one at a time every house in the restricted district. This order of the chancery court was the Appomattox of the war on openly tolerated vice in Chicago.

Stateís Attorney Took Notice

"The then stateís attorney of Cook county took notice, and in order to show that the ordinary methods of law enforcement were not ineffective, he gave an exhibition of the power inherent in his office by closing the vice district.

"In the meantime the city council had appointed a committee, which has not yet reported, to further investigate this mysterious subject. On Dec. 10 1912, the council passed an ordinance reorganizing the police department, abolishing the office of inspector, and creating an official new position to the department, known as the second deputy superintendent of police.

"This official, under the direction of the general superintendent of police, is charged under the ordinance with Ďthe supervision of the strict enforcement of all laws and ordinances pertaining to all matters affecting public morals.í It is evidently contemplated that this official will do the work of the proposed morals commission proposed by the vice commission.

 

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