|This image from Michael Schaack's book is probably adapted from a very similar one that appeared in the Pictorial West on November 20, 1887. This kind of borrowing, usually without attribution, was a common practice.
The Haymarket trial was conducted in the grand courtroom—some one hundred feet long—that occupied much of the second and third floors of the Criminal Court building. The judge sat with his back to the south wall, whose windows overlooked Michigan (Hubbard) Street. In front of him sat the jury, to his right the defendants and their attorneys, to his left the prosecution. The main floor of the courtroom was often packed with court officials, police, witnesses, relatives, friends, and spectators. There was a gallery at each end. The court met in double sessions six days a week, the morning session starting at ten, the afternoon session at two.
In his own memoir of the case, published in 1893, Gary complained that the courtroom was both too large and too crowded—he might have added that it was frequently very hot —and that he tried to keep things as orderly as possible.
He also defended his practice, evident here, of permitting female spectators to sit beside him on the bench. Gary said that this allowed his wife and other guests to have a particularly good vantage from which to hear the speeches to the jury. One newspaper commented early in the trial, "Who these ladies are that hedge about the Judge nobody exactly knows, but they have the entreé to the courtroom when others who have business there have to plead for it; they occupy seats near the bench from day to day, when those whose business calls them to the court-room, and would gladly get rid of it, have to struggle to get in." As for the principle by which these women were admitted, the reporter observed, "The lady who is readiest admitted is the one who looks the prettiest."
It is hard to reconstruct who was admitted and why, and this article may reflect some carping by a catty journalist who was looking for a feature story and was also resentful of his own less comfortable and convenient seat in the courtroom. But this seating of lady spectators where they could watch him "perform" justice reveals the extent to which Gary, despite his remarks to the contrary, recognized the dramatic dimensions of the trial.
A far weightier critic than the newspaper reporter, attorney Samuel McConnell (soon to become a judge himself), recalled that he and Judge John Rogers were appalled by many aspects of Gary's conduct. "I never was in the courtroom during the trial when he did not have on the bench sitting with him, or near him, three to five women," McConnell wrote. "He seemed to treat the affair as a Roman holiday and so did the women, and the thumbs were all down from the start."
One day McConnell's wife, who was also Judge Rogers's daughter, was one of Gary's guests, and in the course of the trial Gary showed her a puzzle. "When I heard of this I was shocked at his levity, with eight men sitting there in dire peril of their lives," McConnell remembered, "certain to die if he continued to rule every motion against them as he did." In this last comment McConnell points out that it was Gary's rulings rather than his behavior that were most inexcusable. "Judge Rogers agreed with me," McConnell recalled, "that Gary was making new law and ignoring every rule of law which was designed to assure a fair trial for a defendant on trial for his life."
The questionable proceedings included Gary's final instructions to the jury before their deliberations. Both sides had submitted a list of what they wished Gary to tell the jurors, and he once again overwhelmingly favored the prosecution. For example, he refused to instruct the jury, as the defense had asked, that a guilty verdict required evidence that showed a clear connection between the defendants and the bomb-throwing. Similarly, Gary refused to say that the jurors had to believe beyond a reasonable doubt that the eight men on trial had entered into an illegal conspiracy involving someone who was directly or indirectly responsible for the bomb.