New York Times
STUDENTS GUILTY OF FIGHTING DRAFT.
Federal Jury Recommend Mercy for the Former Columbia Men.
SURPRISE TO DEFENDANTS
Motion to Set Aside Verdict to be Argued —College Pacifists in Court
Charles Francis Phillips and Owen Cattell, a son of Professor James McK. Cattell, head of the Department of Psychology in Columbia University, were found guilty last night of conspiracy to obstruct the operation of the Selective Draft law. The verdict returned in United States District Court was a great surprise to the defendants, and about 100 young pacifists and anti-conscriptionists who had stayed in the court room all afternoon waiting to hear the fate of the two former Columbia University students. The maximum penalty is two years imprisonment, or $10,000, or both.
The defendants had sworn when on the stand that it had been their intention to strike from an anti-conscription pamphlet which they had prepared, and which formed the basis of the Government’s action in bringing them to trial, several paragraphs in which they advised men of draft age to resist registration, even though by so doing they had to go to jail. Professor Cattell, Professor Brumhill, also of Columbia University, and Harry Phillips, father of young Phillips, all testified that they had advised the authors of the illegal document to bring it "within the law" before putting it in circulation. The Government’s contention, which was sustained by the jury, was that the conspiracy was complete when the manuscript of the pamphlet, from which none of the illegal utterances had been erased, and was delivered to the printers.
Miss Eleanor Parker, the Barnard College senior who was indicted with Phillips and Cattell, but who was acquitted on Wednesday by direction of Judge Julius M. Mayer, was in court, and during a recess announced to reporters that, while she had been acquitted, she still considered herself as guilt as her two companions. In her opinion, the difference between their cases and hers was only technical.
Morris Hillquit, the Socialist lawyer, as leading counsel for the defense, made the plea for the defense to the jury. He maintained that, as the pamphlet was written before the President signed the draft law, no law had been violated. He also pointed out that the pamphlet, which was delivered to the printers after the President signed the Draft act, was not intended for general circulation, but was only for conscientious objectors and members of the Collegiate Anti-Conscription League.
Mr. Hillquit said that the defendant were neither unpatriotic or un-American. He described them as enthusiastic young idealists, and "happy is the nation," he added, "that has such young people who now and then preach the gospel of peace." He emphasized the fact that the defendants had consulted a lawyer who had given them to understand that their actions appeared to be legal.
Assistant United States District Attorney Content, in summing up for the Government, said the defense set up by the defendants, that they had intended to revise the pamphlet and eliminated to revise the pamphlet and eliminate all illegal matter was "an afterthought," and added that "the willful, seditious, and cowardly conduct and attitude of the defendant at the time of their arrest is in striking contrast with their apologetic attitude today."
"If these defendants," added Mr. Content, "had informed the agents of the Department of Justice who called on them after the seizure of this manuscript that they intended to eliminate their illegal matter, then no arrests would have followed."
Mr. Content also pointed out that on June 5 Phillips, who is of conscript age, had refused to register and did not consent to do so until the following day, when his parents and other relatives persuaded him to obey the law. The Government, Mr. Content said, had no intention of taking away the defendant’s or anybody else’s freedom of speech or action, but the Government did intend to prevent them and persons like them from defying the law and bringing about a condition approaching anarchy.
In his charge to the jury Judge Mayer was careful to emphasize all points brought out by the defense and the Government, and said that the fact that Phillips had refused to register was not to prejudice the jury against him so far as the conspiracy charge was concerned. He also pointed out that Phillips’s defiance of the law in no way affected the situation so far as Cattell was concerned.
Mr. Hillquit, Professor Cattell, and both defendants said afterwards that they considered Judge Mayer’s charge fair in all respects.
When the jury returned a verdict of guilty, with recommendations of mercy, Mr. Hillquit moved to set the verdict aside as being contrary to the evidence. Judge Mayer on next Friday will hear argument on Mr. Hillquit’s motion.