Thomas Dies was known to be a person who followed the same political philosophies as Mr. Crump and that made him a target.
In reality those policies were often an advocacy of the needs of average Memphis citizens. In this case, the demands Thomas Dies made on the Street Railway Company regarding fare changes and transfers worked in favor of people who depended on the streetcars to get to work on a daily basis and to move around town.
He believed Memphis and its citizens needed an alternative form of public transportation and the. The Jitneys filled that void. They also created a competition for ridership, a situation that worked in favor of average Memphians. Most of who depended on public transportation.
By this time it became evident that the Street Railway Company intended to do whatever it could to prevent the Jitney buses from becoming a permanent part of life in Memphis. They went over the ordinances with close scrutiny and challenged various aspects of them. The Railway Company’s main complaint was with allowing the Jitneys to use the streets where Street Railway track existed.
As it seemed the local powers that be had aliened themselves against the Jitney’s. For Mayor Love it became a political balancing act. He continued to vote no to the ordinances as they were written with limited explanation.
On December 7, 1915 the second reading was voted on during the regular city commission meeting. The vote was once again in favor of the Jitney’s with all four Commissioners voting yes and the Mayor voting no.
A discussion initiated by Attorney Miles at the end of this meeting clearly defined the stance of Mayor Love, Commissioner Ashcroft, Commissioner Dies and Commissioner Miles on the Jitney issue.
After a long meeting and much discussion, Commissioner Ashcroft moved that the ordinance be placed upon second reading. At the same time he stood up and voiced his support for the ordinance. Commissioner Ashcroft cited several changes in the ordinance. He recognized that there had been much said about the ordinance hurting the Street Railway Company. Commissioner Ashcroft voiced his support of the ordinance and that he intended to vote for it as the Commissioners had all decided to vote yes on the second reading of the ordinance.
Attorney Miles asked if the Commissioners had agreed unanimously or with reluctance.
Commissioner Ashcroft stated that all of the Commissioners had agreed freely with the exception of Mayor Love.
Mayor Love then spoke. “I have been a member of this board for 12 years. I object to this ordinance because it allows Jitneys to run on streets with Street Railway tracks. I stated to the other members of the Commission that I would be agreeable to allowing them to run no more than a half mile along existing tracks. I do not believe in adopting whole routes on existing Streetcar lines”.
Mayor Love then addressed Commissioner Dies. “In an interview recently you stated that the Jitney’s were for the poor people. It is my observation that the poor people live in the suburbs and back places where the Street Railway does not reach. Most streetcar tracks are along permanent streets. You can’t have permanent streets in the suburbs along which the Street Railway can run unless you build them. The people cannot pay the cost.
Mayor Love also stated, “I have been with the city government for 12 years and if a person, firm, or corporation has a contract with the city, I will vote to uphold it. But, if any person, firm, or corporation tries to flinch on the contract I will vote to bring it to taw”. “I vote no on this ordinance”.
Commissioner Dies spoke next. He said he was “for the people and had been for 12 years”. He also said that “while a number of business men were in the council chamber, the working people for whom he was working could not attend”. “I favor the ordinance because I believe the people want it”.
Attorney Miles asked Commissioner Dies if he favored providing other routes for the Jitneys before the Street Railway Company declined to give six tickets for a quarter?
“We probably would have found other routes”, replied Commissioner Dies.
“Then your primary reason for voting for this ordinance is to punish the Street Railway Company for its refusal to meet that demand”, asked Mr. Miles.
“Yes sir”, replied Mr. Dies. “That is the primary reason, the refusal of the Street Railway Company to meet the demand”.
Commissioner McLain commented that he was voting in the interest of the people.
The Ordinance passed four to one with the Commissioners voting yes and the Mayor voting no.
Sides had been clearly defined during the council meeting of December 7, 1915. The comments by the Commissioners and the Mayor left no questions about how and why they intended to vote on the Jitney ordinances.
In an article on December 14, 1915, prior to the vote, the Commercial Appeal indicated that the four Commissioners were not free to vote their own sentiments. It also stated that Thomas Dies was “fetching and carrying”. No facts were present to prove this.
On December 14, 1915, the third reading was taken. The vote was the same, the four Commissioners voted yes and the Mayor voted no. The Jitney ordinances were passed on the third and final reading.
This should have been the end of the discussion; with the Jitney franchises beginning operation thirty days after the third reading was passed. It did not turn out that way. Mayor Love, after the third reading was voted on and passed, stated that he would not sign the ordinances as passed. A rule had been found in the Act of 1905. It provided that no franchise could become effective without the signature of the Mayor.
Immediately discussion began on the legality of this and other issues. City Attorney Bryan was brought to the meeting and he stated that the veto by the Mayor could be voted over. Immediately the vote was retaken. The ordinances were again passed over the Mayor’s veto.
Mayor Love went through the sections of the ordinances one by one that he did not approve of. Once he had read these he again stated he would not sign the ordinances as passed.
Thomas Dies began to question the reasons why Mayor Love was against the Jitney ordinances. On December 16, 1915, in a statement published in the Commercial Appeal he accused Mayor Love of being under the control of corporate interests.
Commercial Appeal December 16, 1915. Statement of Thomas Dies:
“I am now serving under a fourth Mayor of the City of Memphis. While criticisms of various kinds have been offered against all of them, it is the first time in my 12 years of service that I have known any mayor or anyone connected with the City government, who takes orders in so direct a way from corporation interests”
Thomas Dies, Commissioner of Public Utilities.
Mayor Love responded with a statement of his own.
Commercial Appeal December 16, 1915 Statement of Mayor George Love.
“I became a member of city government the same day as Commissioner Dies did 12 years ago, and to my knowledge Commissioner Dies is the only city commissioner that has ever laid himself liable to the accusation of holding up a corporation.”
George C. Love, Mayor of the City of Memphis
Mayor love became irritated and vocal about the accusation and hinted at blackmail and an accusation of blackmailing a corporation directed against Commissioner Dies. He ended with a vague reference to the Rock Island Letter
Though the Rock Island Letter was never published, it was hinted at and it was general knowledge among the local newspapers that a letter did exist. Immediately the Commercial Appeal began questioning the contents of the Rock Island Letter. The newspaper speculated on what it might contain and why it was rumored to exist, but had never been seen.
The Commercial Appeal speculated that it might have something to do with the building of the Harahan Bridge and an attempt to take care of friends. The morning paper stated that they believed the proposal was initially given orally. But at some point, Thomas Dies had written a letter stating his position on the matter that was intended to go to the Chicago officials of the Rock Island Railroad. This did not immediately occur. Attorney L.P. Miles was the initial recipient of the letter. His name was left out of the published information.
The morning paper said the letter might not have surfaced had Commissioner Dies not made the accusation against Mayor Love.
The Commercial Appeal apparently knew a lot about the circumstances but they were doing a careful dance around the information that they published. The letter would have been in the possession of Attorney L.P. Miles if it still existed.
A discussion between Mayor Love and the four Commissioners including City attorney Bryan went back and forth through most of the meeting. The question again was could the ordinances be passed without the Mayor’s approval. The meeting adjourned with the matter still unresolved.
On December 22, 1915, the Commissioners once again voted to pass the Jitney ordinances on a fourth reading. Mayor Love again voted no. Attorney Miles asked when the ordinances would be effective. City Attorney Bryan answered it would become effective 30 days from last Tuesday is it was decided the Mayor had no power to veto. He further stated that if it is decided he did have the power to veto, the ordinances would become effective 30 days from December 22, 1915.
The Jitney matter was resolved as far as the Commission was concerned, but it was believed that the Street Railway Company would file a breach of contract suit.
The problems for Thomas Dies were just beginning. The facts surrounding the Rock Island Letter would bring him under public scrutiny. The bitter fight over the Jitneys would have repercussions that would severely affect his Political career. The political storm surrounding the ouster law and the relentless scrutiny by the local media would place him under a public microscope.
Once the Rock Island Letter was referred to at a Commission meeting by Mayor Love it became a matter of public record. The local press began expounding on what its contents might be and why it was hidden from the public before now.
On December 17, 1915 the Commercial Appeal published a full page story on the Rock Island Letter and its contents. The story was detailed and a copy of the letter was published. The source of information was most likely from Attorney Lovick P. Miles. Miles was the attorney who represented the Rock Island Railroad locally and was the son-in-law of Commercial Appeal President Luke E. Wright. He was a principal player in the situation involving the letter, Commissioner Dies and Mayor Crump.
The story was that attorney Miles had “trapped” Thomas Dies as he described it, into rewriting the letter sent previously and sending a copy to him. The request was made with misleading information. Miles told Commissioner Dies he intended to submit the letter to the Rock Island president. This was not true. He held the letter and later used it to force Mayor Crump and Commissioner Dies to vote yes on the Harahan Bridge Ordinance. The Commercial Appeal made it appear that he had trapped Commissioner Dies into putting his terms on paper.
Thomas Dies denied he needed to be trapped and that he had written the letter freely and that the letter was not a secret. Several Commissioners and Mayor Crump were aware of the situation and there was nothing to hide.
City attorney Bryan attempted to get the letter back in a meeting with Attorney Miles according to the Commercial Appeal. The morning paper stated in an article that Miles stated he would return the letter only after it was published. Bryan declined.
City attorney Bryan later, after the Rock Island Letter became public in 1915, denied that he ever went to Miles and asked for the letter back. He stated that the Commercial Appeal information either “Came from a perverted brain or was an outright lie”. He stated “the letter could have been released at the time it was written”.
The article continued with statements from the president of the Rock Island Railroad and others. Nowhere in the letter was there a direct accusation of wrong doing. There was a question about how it transpired and why they only tried to help the Georgia Street Investors and not the other property owners. Commissioner Dies retained the position that felt they were morally obligated to them under the circumstances. Possibly a more detailed explanation from Commissioner Dies and former Mayor Crump might have eased the pressure, but there is no information that it ever happened.
On December 18, 1915 the Commercial Appeal continued the detailed coverage regarding the Rock Island Letter. A statement by Commissioner Dies was published on Page 5, Commercial Appeal December 18, 1915. It was quoted as a Crump-Dies statement by the Newspaper.
The statement issued from Mr. Crump’s private office yesterday noon quoted in the name of Dies is as follows:
This controversy has proven beyond any doubt the underhanded, scheming insidious, slick and cunning methods that Mr. Miles tried to work when he now admits that he wanted to trap me into writing a letter. I would not hesitate to write the same letter tomorrow, under similar conditions.
I had always heard that Miles, who is a son-in-law of the president of the Commercial Appeal, which represents the interlocking directors, was a lawyer of very ordinary ability, but through that influence became associated with General Luke E. Wright’s Law Firm in representing their interests. However I had not fully sized him up as being a creepy, sneaking, snake-in-the-grass, that would designedly come to City Hall to get me to write a letter that he could make capitol cut of.
Mr. Miles says he thought he would trap me and did not intend to send the letter anywhere, yet there appears in the morning paper what purports to be a letter from the President of Rock Island Railroad, dated in Chicago the very next day after my letter and referring to having received my letter. This on its face shows that Miles is not telling the truth about the matter.
Miles is very mad at me and has been for a very long time. He has been trying to get me to give the Rock Island Railroad the cities one-eighth right-of –way on Broadway, which I will never d, unless the city of Memphis gets full value for it. Miles does not like my stand on the streetcar-jitney matter. He likes the stand of temporary Mayor Love, for it was Miles who presented Love with a lot of amendments which the temporary Mayor offered word for word in the city council. It was the same Miles, a very ordinary lawyer, but of trickster ability, perhaps that presented Temporary Mayor Love last Tuesday, just before the council meeting, with a veto message. It is written on the same paper as the streetcar company’s protest, written apparently by the same typewriter, and dictated by the same street car lawyer. I would not say that Miles wrote it, for the document shows something more than just ordinary ability; I simply say that he acted as a messenger and brought it to the city hall.”
“Temporary mayor Love had the city clerk read this message which miles had handed him, without knowing what the meaning was, and did not dot an ‘I’ or cross a ‘t,’ but ‘let her ride’ just as she came from the street car company’s attorney’s office. I have not voted to suit the interlocking crowd, I might say, on any matter. I did not act to suit them on the telephone reduction proposition and I am not going to act to suit them on the first of the year when the matter comes up for cheaper electric lights for Memphis. I realize fully that I will be mauled over the head every morning by the same interests that are now after me, but it will make no difference, for I propose to work and vote for any measure that will come before the council which will mean cheaper lights for the city of Memphis.
“The fight that is being made on me comes from the interlocking interests whose ambition is to throw every man out of office who has the nerve to stand for the people. I, for one, am going to stand with the people to the last ditch, for, after all, it is their fight against the interlocking interests.”
On December the 19th, the relentless attack on Commissioner Dies continued. The Commercial Appeal published information on property values in the 4th and Georgia area. The City and County appraisals were much lower than the Georgia Street Investors asking price. The area was not well developed. It had great potential with the railroads main access point to the Frisco Bridge only a block away. The property values were not based completely on potential. The value was in the type of development and its potential. In the case of the Georgia Street investors this was potentially lucrative.
Memphis was lacking in warehouse space and the Georgia Street Investors were speculating on the railroad access and the lack of competition. They had drawn up blueprints and were ready to begin construction. All that was required was that the plans be approved by the Commission. Space had already been reserved by customers anticipating the availability of storage space. The potential for profit was there for the Georgia Street Investors. The unfortunate part was the timing.
Commissioner Dies and Mayor Crump recognized this. They whole heartedly supported investors like these and in any other situation would have welcomed their willingness to invest in Memphis. But, this situation stretched that loyalty to the limit and Mayor Crump and Commissioner Dies had to choose what was in the best interest of the city. Even though the Georgia Street investors were there first the Harahan Bridge project was the clear winner.
On the 20th Commissioner Dies issued a statement regarding the area property values. The Commercial Appeal again, on the 21st, attacked his statement. Breaking it down and countering his facts. A map of the property and the surrounding area was published showing the lot numbers and a small drainage ditch that ran through the property. It also shows this ditch crossing Georgia Street in two places. No photos exist.
The Commercial Appeal’s continued criticism of Commissioner Dies escalated daily. They devoted 4 or 5 columns each day after the Rock Island Letter surfaced challenging his statements and attacking his actions. The morning paper accused Commissioner Dies of being under the thumb of Mayor Crump. They used colorful terms like “fetch and carry”, and referring to those who “stand in” with City hall. Both terms were intended to closely associate Thomas Dies with former Mayor Crump’s administration and policies, policies that had resulted in his ouster as Mayor.
On December 22nd, The Commercial Appeal began comparing the actions surrounding the Rock Island Letter with the events that resulted in the ouster of Mayor Crump and Commissioner Utley. The term they applied indicated that some of the saloon keepers had “stood in” at City Hall more than others. It was stated in the article that the saloon keepers who donated large sums to political campaigns were the last to be shut down. The morning paper gave no examples of this nor did they name any names. They simply applied the term to them and the Georgia Street Investors.
A Wayside Bill of Exceptions was issued by the states attorney prosecuting the ouster case. This is a statement listing the facts he intends to prove in ouster suit. In this case, it involved how the process of shutting down the saloons was handled. It charged that most of the last ones shut down had contributed large sums to political campaigns. The ones who hadn’t contributed were the first ones closed.
This is where the Commercial Appeal arrived at the term “Standing in at City Hall”.
The article went on to say that Thomas Dies received his statements in written form from the office of E.H. Crump. It is possible this might have been the case. Commissioner Dies had intimated to friends that he felt the statements were humiliating him. The Commercial Appeal went on to say Thomas Dies had always allowed this to happen during his time as a Commissioner. All Statements from Mr. Dies were submitted to the afternoon News Scimitar. No statements were given to the Commercial Appeal.
Commissioner Dies was becoming isolated in his circumstances, under scrutiny from the press and betrayed by his friends.
On December 22, 1915, L.P. Miles had an Evening Scimitar reporter accompany him to Thomas Dies office. Miles stated intention was to establish who was responsible for the publication of the Rock Island Letter and answer accusations he alleged were made by Commissioner Dies.
Miles denied being responsible for the publication of the letter and that he had not used it in any way since 1913 in regards to the passage of the ordinance for building of the Harahan Bridge.
According to the article, Miles stated that Mayor Love came to him in early November and asked to see the letter. Miles showed him the letter. Miles stated he was not aware at that time of a split between officials at city hall and that Mayor Love wanted to see the letter for “organization”. Miles also stated that Commissioner Dies had asked for a copy of the letter and it was given to him.
The following text is from the Evening Scimitar Page 1 and 14 December 22, 1915.
When Miles entered Commissioner Dies office, Commissioner Dies said to him, “Mr. Miles I do not care to have anything to say to you”.
Mr. Miles replied “You are a public official and I have a right to see you and to ask you some questions”.
“As I said, ” Commissioner Dies replied, “I don’t want to have anything more to say to you”.
“Who gave you a copy of that Rock Island letter.” asked Miles.
“You know who gave me a copy.” Mr. Dies replied sharply.
“Who has it?” asked Miles.
“I refuse to answer that question”, Dies replied.
“Did I furnish you with a copy of the letter”? Miles asked.
“I refuse to answer that question.” Mr. Dies replied.
“From the date you wrote the letter until last Tuesday a week ago, did I ever mention to you the letter or intimate that I would ever use it in connection with any matter ever pending before you or the commission?” asked Mr. Miles.
“As I said before.” replied Mr. Dies, “I refuse to answer that question.”
“Now then, answer this question, if you will.” said Mr. Miles: “Did you or the city ever make to the Rock Island or the Rock Island ever make to the city, any proposition stating the basis upon which the Broadway right of way might be acquired by that company?”
“What is the use in asking that question?” replied Mr. Dies.
“When I gave you a copy of the letter,” continued Miles, “on last Tuesday a week ago, did I not say to you in effect that if you heard a rumor, or report, or an imagination, that I intended to or would use the letter in connection with the Jitney ordinances or any other matter before you or the commission, that you should absolutely dismiss it from your mind?”
“You said,” replied Mr. Dies, “that you had no idea of using it in the Jitney matter. I intended to publish the letter as soon as the Jitney matter was settled.”
“And did I not tell you that the letter was written in connection with a transaction entirely foreign to any other matter before you, and in connection with the business of another client?” asked Mr. Miles; “and that it would not and should not be used by me?”
Mr. Dies replied; “You said that you would not use it in connection with the Jitney franchise.”
“Now, Mr. Dies, some people have the idea that it was I who gave the letter to, the News Scimitar, when in fact you know that it was you who gave it publicity, and the purpose of this interview is to make you admit it?”
“Why certainly I gave it to the News Scimitar; but who gave it to the Commercial Appeal and caused that paper to first refer to it?” Mr. Dies inquired.
“I know nothing about that,” Mr. Miles replied, “but you will recall that when I gave you the copy I told you that Mr. Love had called at my office early in November and had asked to see, and was shown a copy of the letter. To show how ignorant I was of political affairs, and of relations between you gentlemen up here, I assumed that Mr. Love wanted to see the letter in the interest of the ‘organizations’. He came in and remarked that there was going to be an election in a few days, that he understood I had a letter which you had written me in connection with the bridge matter, and wanted to see it. I had then heard nothing of Mr. Crump’s intended submission to ouster proceedings and supposed Mr. Love referred to some public election of which I knew nothing.
“I knew nothing of any friction between you. In half an hour I learned of Mr. Crump having submitted to ouster and later learned that Mr. Love referred to an election to fill vacancies on the board.”
“At the time I gave you a copy of the letter last week,” continued Mr. Miles, “not a person in the world had seen the letter or a copy of it except members of our firm, officials of Rock Island, “Mr. J.A. Riechman, Mr. Mallory and yourself, and nobody had circulated a copy.”
“Well, somebody had been talking about it, and I got a copy intending, after the Jitney business was settled, to publish it.” said Mr. Dies.
L.P. Miles gave this statement regarding his visit to Commissioner Dies office accompanied by a News Scimitar reporter:
“I knew, first, that the public would not have to rely upon either what he or I said as to what occurred, and I knew further that if he answered truthfully my questions, he would have to assume full responsibility for publishing the letter, would have to admit that I never threatened or suggested the use of the letter in connection with any other matter, that I never referred to it from Jan. 23, 1913, until last week, when, at his request, I gave him a copy: that I never suggested that the city give the Broadway right of way to the Rock Island. Indeed, I knew, if he answered truthfully my questions he would stamp as falsehoods many statements recently published and accredited to him.”
Mr. Dies statement in response to L.P. Miles.
“I am satisfied beyond any doubt that Mr. Love, Miles and probably others had circulated information regarding this letter before Mr. Crump was ousted, and before Mayor Love is said to have gone to the office of Wright, Miles, Waring, & Walker to see the letter.”
“I heard about the reports in circulation, in fact it was being said when the jitney ordinance was up that I would weaken because they had something on me. Former Mayor Crump said to me that if there was no way for me to get the letter published (for I wanted it published right away), he would bring it out the first day he returned to the mayor’s office, so the people could see the whole transaction.”
This conversation or confrontation, however you see it, was an attempt by L.P. Miles to cover his back by causing Thomas Dies to answer carefully worded questions in a way that kept Miles from looking like he had crossed a line where legal issues might be in play.
The Rock Island Letter was an enigma of sorts. It was definitely in the public domain. It was written by an acting city commissioner on City of Memphis stationary while conducting city business. It legally could be viewed by any interested party.
L.P. Miles being the attorney of record of the Memphis and Arkansas bridge company, builders of the Harahan bridge, was bound to them by attorney client privilege. It was possible Miles had entered into a verbal agreement to not release the letter publicly. At the time it was written, the Rock Island people apparently wanted the project to be a positive improvement and didn’t want any negative issues or publicity. This was probably the reason the letter was not made public at the time.
As time went by, the only copy of the letter or possibly the original was in the files regarding the bridge at the Wright Law Firm. In order to view a copy, it was necessary to go to Miles and ask to see it.
Miles would be on legal ground to show the letter to an acting city commissioner and to provide a copy. That would include Commissioner Dies and Mayor Love. What they did with it after that would not affect him legally. He just could not legally provide a copy to the newspaper.
Thomas Dies issue was how the Commercial Appeal was able to publish a copy before The News Scimitar, to whom he had provided a copy. Miles gave standard denial statements denying and knowledge of how the morning paper got it first.
It was natural to suspect Miles of providing the copy to the Commercial appeal due to his father-in-law being the president of the newspaper company and the owner of the law firm in which he was a partner. Even though it would be impossible to prove, it was a valid suspicion.
The last issue was the timing of the request by Mayor Love. He had apparently had little interest in the letter at the time it was written and the events surrounding it. Suddenly it became an issue when the possibility of an election in which he would be running against Thomas Dies for Mayor became a reality. At least Miles was honest enough to include this in his statement. He was again covering his back in case the timing of visit by Mayor Love came up later. Naturally he denied any knowledge of events surrounding the visit and request for a copy of the letter by Mayor Love.
The situation left Miles on what attorney’s refer to is the ‘slippery slope’. He defended it as best he could and claimed victory in his statement.
The Commercial Appeal did not cover L.P. Miles visit to Thomas Dies office as far as I can determine.
On December 24th, an ouster suit was filed in Chancery Court against Commissioner Thomas Dies by State Attorney General Frank M. Thompson. The complaint was served by Captain G.T. Fitzhugh to Commissioner Dies on Christmas Day.
The complaint alleged Commissioner Dies was part and party to allowing certain saloon keepers to stay in business by ignoring the law that required them to close. It also alleged the property he owned in several locations in Memphis was rented to people who turned the location into a “Bawdy House” and at the same time selling, using and making liquor. The compliant stated that Commissioner Dies did nothing to stop this and allowed it to continue in collusion with former Mayor Crump, Vice Mayor Utley and Judge Stanton. The complaint alleged that Commissioner Dies was complicit in not enforcing the Prohibition Laws and allowing gambling and prostitution with former Mayor Crump, Vice Mayor Utley and Judge Stanton.
The compliant goes on to allege that the events surrounding the Rock Island Letter involved moral turpitude and were an attempt to convey special favors from certain parties. It states that within the last few days Thomas Dies admitted he wrote a letter addressed to the Rock Island Railroad president stating his intention to withhold his yes vote for the ordinance to build the Harahan Bridge. He stated in the letter he would not vote to pass the ordinance until the Georgia Street investors were paid a higher amount for their property than was offered by the railroad.
The ouster law provided that 5 days after an ouster petition was filed a hearing was to be held to determine if the defendant should be suspended from office. Thomas Dies hearing was scheduled for December 30, 1915 in Chancery Court.
Commissioner Dies retained three Memphis attorneys to defend him against the allegations, Attorney J.L. McRae, Judge R.M. Barton and Attorney T.K. Reddick. These three lawyers were also representing former Mayor Crump.
On December 30th, Attorneys McRee and Barton appeared in Chancellor Fentress’s, Court room with Judge Heiskel sitting in an advisory capacity. Both Chancellors were presiding over Commissioner Dies suspension hearing.
Commissioner Dies was not present at the hearing due to an illness. The attorneys had a letter from his doctor that was presented to Chancellor Fentress and accepted. It was determined that Commissioner Dies did not need to be present while the preliminaries of the case were being worked out.
E.H. Crump. Vice Mayor Utley, Judge Stanton and separately Commissioner Reichmann had previously pleaded guilty to the charges against them in the ouster suit. The attorneys had found what they believed was a loophole in the law that they were trying to exploit. They interpreted the ouster charges to be valid only in the term of office they were serving in at the time. Once that term expired they could once again hold office.
This petition was filed with the State Supreme Court shortly after the defendants admitted to all charges included in the original suit. A decision had not been made as of December 29th.