Haymarket Affair Digital Collection

Illinois vs. August Spies et al. trial transcript no. 2
Examination of Sydney H. Warner with subsequent court discussion, 1886 June 21.

Volume A, 38-51, 15 p.
Warner, Sydney H.
Member of the Board of Trade.

Examined by Mr. Foster. Peremptorily dismissed by Counsel for the Defense (see Questioning of W. P. Upham, Vol.A 67).

Objection by the Court to the Defense's question, "Provided it was not established beyond all reasonable doubt, that these defendants threw the bomb, or that they aided, participated in or advised the commission of that wrong, would the fact that they were socialists or communists have any influence upon your mind in determining their innocence?" Also contained in this section is the surrender of Albert R. Parsons to the court (vol.A 43).

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Q. Your name is warner?

A. Yes sir.

Q. You stated that you are a member of the regular Board of Trade?

A. Yes sir.

Q. Doing business in the Board of Trade Building?


Q. Where were you on the occasion of the alleged riot at

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hay-market square, on the 4th of May?

A. I was at home.

Q. Where is that?

A. 582 West Taylor street.

Q. Do you remember where you first heard of the difficulty at the hay-market?

A. I heard of it in the morning.

Q. Do you remember the source from which you heard it?

A. I think I read it in one of the papers.

Q. I will ask you the same question that I did Mr Aldrich, as to whether or not you have continuously been reading the newspapers and accounts connected with this affair, the indictment of the defendants, and the various proceedings in court from that time to the present time?

A. I generally read papers every day. I don't think I have missed any.

Q. Have you also had conversations with different individuals, in reference to the facts of the case?

A. I probably have talked, yes sir.

Q. Have you ever had a talk with any one that undertook to narrate the facts, what they alleged to be the facts in the case?

A. No sir.

Q. Did you ever have any conversation with any policeman that was there at the hay-market square?

A. No sir.

Q. Did you ever have any conversation with anybody that was there, or claimed to have been there?

A. No sir.

Q. The conversations that you had generally, were they about your place of business, the Board of Trade, or where

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was it?

A. Well, all over, as far as that is concerned.

Q. From the time you got up in the morning, until you went to bed?

A. I didn't talk aout that all the time.

Q. I will ask you from all that you heard and all that you read whether you formed an opinion at the time you heard it and at the time you read it, upon the question of the guilt or innocence of these defendants, or any of them?

A. I never formed an opinion as to any of these men, but I knew it was wrong whoever did it, but I never formed an opinion as to any of these men.

Q. You knew what was wrong?

A. I knew that the killing of these policemen and the murder committed was wrong.

Q. I want to know whether you considered the throwing of the bomb or somebody was wrong?

A. The whole business I think was wrong.

Q. You mean the violence that produced death you considered was wrong?

A. Yes sir.

Q. Was that as far as your opinion went. Were not you told that the defendants here or some of them were the men who were responsible for what was done in the hay-market square?

A. Never been told that-- I have read it in the paper.

Q. Did you at that time form an opinion upon the question of their guilt or innocence?

A. No sir, I don't think the papers always could tell right. I don't form an opinion

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from them.

Q. You don't take much stock in what the reporters say?

A. They are very likely to be wrong sometimes..

Q. In this particular instance did you regard them wrong, or did you come to any conclusion as to whether they were wrong or right?

A. I don't know that I thought much about it, whether right or wrong.

Q. Have you now, at the present, time, any opinion upon the questions of the defendants' guilt or innocence of any one of them?

A. I have if they were proven.

Q. Have you now, as you sit there, any opinion as to whether either of these seven men are guilty or innocent?

A. I can't say that I have.

Q. Can you say you have not?

A. I don't think I consider them guilty until proven so.

Q. You would not say they were innocent until they were proven so?

A. No sir.

Q. Would it require some evidence to overcome the opinion you now have, whatever it would be?

A. I suppose it would.

Q. It would require no testimony to unbias your mind?

A. I don't consider my mind is biased.

Q. You answered to the State's Attorney that you were not a member of any organization of socialists?

A. No sir.

Q. Or anarchists?

A. No sir.

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Q. Or anything of that kind, communists?

A. No sir.

Q. Now, I want to ask you this question. Suppose it should appear in evidence that the meeting held at the hay-market square was a meeting called by socialists or anarchists, and was attended by others; suppose that it should further appear that the bomb which is alleged to have produced the death of Mr. Degan, was thrown by some one in sympathy with the socialists or anarchists; now I will ask you, provided it was not established beyond all reasonable doubt, that these defendants actually threw the bomb, or that they aided, participated in or advised the commission of that wrong, would the fact that they were socialists or communists have any influence upon your mind in determining their innocence?

Objected to.

THE COURT: I wont permit that question to be answered until there has been some further consideration of it. That it has been a practice in this court, I am not disposed to deny, but that it is a practice that ought to obtain anywheres I think is not true. Questions as to the present condition of the mind of a juror, and as to his past associations, bias and prejudice, I think are admissible, but no man can swear with any truth as to what he will do in the future. Nobody knows what he will do in the future. My opinion is that no such question ought to be allowed..No reform ever can take place unless it has a beginning, and I

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think it ought to begin now.

Mr. ZEISLER: The answer to that question would show the condition of the mind at the present time. If he would, for instance, say, if he would answer the question put by Mr Foster by yes, or no, that would show what he thinks about the whole case. It would show the condition of his mind.

THE COURT: The effect of such a question is to argue the question beforehand.

Mr. GRINNELL: I see Mr. Parsons is in court, and I ask that he be put in the custody of the sheriff.

Mr. BLACK: It was very ungenerous for Mr. Grinnell to arise so promptly. Mr. Parsons desires to surrender himself and to be permitted to plead and join in this defense. I want him arraigned at once. I desire to have him plead and join in this defense. I think Mr. Parsons is sufficiently advised of the indictment to be permitted to waive---

Mr. ZEISLER: Let the motion be entered to quash the indictment which will be overruled, and the plea of not guilty.

Mr. GRINNELL: As the theatrical part of it is over, let Mr. Parsons take a eat with the prisoners.

THE COURT: Enter the plea of not guilty, and the same motions that have been presented on behalf of the other defendants. Will the stenographer please read now what has been going on.

The stenographer here read the last question.

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THE COURT: I think, Mr. Black, that outside of this Statem there has never been allowed in examining jurors as to their competency, any questions as to what will be their future action, as to what will be their future action, except in one or two southern states, where the prisoners were colored men and the jury white, and in California where Chinese were involved--- and those are exceptions.

Mr. BLACK: I think it is doubtless true that speculations as to the future mental condition of the juror are not probably competent. In part, because no human foresight or wisdom can forecast the condition of the mind. Yet, so far as a hypothetical question may tend to throw light upon the present condition of the mind, or of the feeling of the juror, it is competent, and I submit to your Honor, whether or not this question in that view may not be a proper and a competent question. The question substantially, is this: Suppose that it appears here there was a meeting of socialists, communists and others, that the bomb was thrown by one in sympathy with the socialists or communists, would that fact of itself show the guilt or innocence of these parties accused. It seems to me there is a propriety in putting a question of that kind. It is a fact within the knowledge of many of us here, and probably of us all, that there have not been wanting people in the city of Chicago, within the past six months who have openly expressed a readiness to visit

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condine punishment upon men simply because of their relationship, without reference to testimony, or without reference to their guilt or innocence. It has been a common observation, it has found its way into the press. It has found its echo upon the street. Now, if we should to find a juror, who while ready to say that he believes that he could give a fair trial, yet would have to confess that the fact being shown that a communist or socialist threw the bomb, then the fact that some of them were socialists or communists would be a fact that would prejudice him, a fact that in itself would fortify, would influence his judgment in reaching his determination as to the guilt or innocence of theaccused, it seems to me that shows a mental condition which rebuts the answer he has given, however hosestly that answer may have been. And your Honor will observe under the statute it is not simply enough that a juror will say that he believes he can give a fair and impartial trial without reference to what he has heard. It is necessary that the court must be satisfied of that fact. It must be apparent to the court when he is asked simply as to his belief, that his bias, his mental attitude is such that beyond all reasonable question he is in such an attitude as not to give a fair and impartial and just trial to the accused to the extent of their political or societary relations, without reference to the fact as to who really may have committed the crime. It seems to

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me that with a view to aiding the court to determine this question, which the court as well as the juror is called upon to pass on under the statute, and with a view perhaps to enlighten the juror himself, because your Honor must bear in mind that he must be such an exceptional juror who has made such a study of mental operations as to be able to answer with any degree of certainly, with any degree of assurance a to what will be the extent to which some previous prejudice or previous feeling may influence him--- I say it seems to me that it is proper with reference to these considerations that such a question should be presented.

THE COURT: It seems to me you have furnished yourself the conclusive objection to any such question. There is no man sufficiently acquainted with the operations of his own mind as to know before what he will think upon anything until he has tried. He can't tell himself. It is merely a metter of conjecture; and yet you require him to swear what will be the operation of his mind upon evidence that has not yet been presented to him, and which he has not tried. It struck me with surprise when I first came here, for the State to ask--- if you from the evidence believe they are guilty beyond all reasonable doubt--- unless the evidence satisfies you beyond all reasonable doubt of that--- of course the examination has never been heard of elsewhere. The Supreme Court

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has sanctioned very extreme questions to be sure, but I notice in the last one of the later volumnes, that they have begun to conceive of the subject differently. As I said before hypothetical question as to what a man will do in the future on a given state of facts have been sanctioned in some of the southern states, where negroes were on trial, and in California where Chinese have been on trial; but with those exceptions there is no precedent for this question as to what the juror will do hereafter. What is their present feeling and present state of mind as to any opinion, any opinion upon the question of the guilt or innocence is proper. Beyond that, I don't think it is, except that under this statute there is a statutory provision that in a single case a juror shall be questioned whether he believes he can fairly and impartially try the case, but further than the statute goes, I don't see it.

Mr. ZEISLER: Do I understand the court to say that the opinion in the California case is a proper one?

THE COURT: The statute of this State provides that criminal cases shall be conducted according to the common law, except where the statute otherwise provides. You can save you point.

Mr. FOSTER: If I understand the court correctly, we may ask in regard to his opinion now.

THE COURT: Whether he now has any opinion, or is prejudiced

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as to the guilt or innecence of any one of these defendants.

Mr. FOSTER: I understand we would have a right to ask that but the State's Attorney has been permitted to ask jurors if they would have any hesitation in convicting a man where the punishment would be capital, in the case made.

THE COURT: No, that is the statutory provision.

Mr. FOSTER: I didn't have reference to the statutory question- as to whether they have any conscentious scruples as to the death penalty, but the State's Attorney asks a dozen questions of every juror, as to whether he would hesitate in the given case under proper proof of conviction.

THE COURT: Then I wasn't paying attention.

Mr. FOSTER: There isn't any question in my mind but what he asked a number of questions as to what they may not or would not do. He asked whether they were in favor of the prosecution of the law, asked them whether they were opposed to persons who were in favor of the overthrow of the law. That is not a question touching the guilt or innocence of these defendants.

THE COURT: I say you are entitled to the present state of the juror's mind, and their feelings, whether prejudiced for or against any one of them, as to their guilt or innocence. You can ask him whether he had any prejudice for or against particular things. But if Mr. Grinnell asked the juror

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whether he would do so and so, that escaped my attention.

Mr. BLACK: We will note an exception.

Mr. FOSTER: Q. I will ask you Mr. Warner whether you have any prejudice against a class known as socialists or anarchists?

A. I never had no use for them, no.

Q. I don't ask you whether you had any use for them. I ask you whether you have any prejudice against them.

A. I don't believe in their order, no.

Q. I don't ask you that. I ask you whether you have any prejudice against them?

A. I should say I had.

Q. That is you have a prejudice against their belief or their views?

A. From what I have heard their believe is, I have a prejudice against them.

Q. Would that prejudice have any influence on your mind in a trial in which their lives were involved?

THE COURT: That is the same question.

Mr.FOSTER: I will change that question and say--- has that prejudice?

A. I think the fact of their being socialists would prejudice me? I don't think it would.

Q. What do you say in regard to their being anarchists--- would that prejudice you?

A. I consider them about the same thing--- I don't know the difference between them.

Q. I understood you to say a moment ago it would prejudice you. Now, do I understand you to say it would not?

Mr. GRINNELL: He said he had a prejudice against them as

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a class, but not on the trial here.

Mr. FOSTER Q. Now then let us go over the ground a little. In the first place you say you have no opinion, have neither formed one nor expressed one upon the defendants' guilt or any one of them the charge of the murder of Mr. Degan?

A. I don't think that I have.

Q. You say that the fact that the evidence might show that they were socialists or communists or anarchists would not influence you in returning a verdict under the evidence?

A. No sir.

THE COURT: I shall refuse you, unless further enlightened, all questions to the juror as to what he believes, as to the operation of his own mind, except statutory. Whether he is now in fact prejudice against any association of individuals or against any association of individuals by any name, whether he is now in fact prejudiced, you are entitled to, but whether that can affect him in his verdict, or will affect him in his verdict, and any such prejudice as to affect him in his verdict, are all matters of opinion as to the operations of his own mind, which nobody can tell any more about, the operations of his own mind, than any other person.

Mr. FOSTER: Q. I have forgotten what your answer was as to whether you were a member of church?

A. I don't think I was asked the question.

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Q. Are you a member of any church?

A. I am not a member of any church. I attend once in a while.

Q. You are a married man and go to church with your wife?

A. Yes sir, sometimes..

Q. Were you ever a member of any church?

A. I never was a member. I used to attend regularly but was never a member.

Q. What church did you attend?

A. Professor Swing's.

Q. Were you ever or are you now a member of the State militia?

A. Of this State, no sir.

Q. I will ask you whether or not the fact that the defendants affirm, rather than swear, take the ordinary oath would in anyb way in your mind affect the credibility which you would give them?

Objected to; objection sustained, exception by counsel for defendants.

Q. I will ask you whether it would in any way, in your judgment, affect their testimony, provided it would appear that they were aethists or were not believers in a personal God?

Objected to; objection sustained; to which ruling of the court counsel for defendants then and there excepted.

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