Disgraceful Proceedings

Some of the scenes presented yesterday in U.S. Commissioner McKay’s office, in connection with the proceedings in the case against Royal B. Young, were extremely disgraceful to the prosecution. If there was such a feeling in the breast of U.S. Attorney Dickson as a sense of decency, he would, on mature reflection, be thoroughly ashamed of himself. He may not realize it, but it is nevertheless true, that his conduct in some respects is beginning to inspire a feeling of intense disgust in the minds of thoughtful people of all classes. He is robbing his office of every particle of that dignity that ought to be attached to it.

The threats and intimidation used by Mr. Dickson toward Mr. Young yesterday afternoon, for the purpose of compelling the latter to produce witnesses to prosecute himself, were not only undignified and extra-oflicious, but absolutely unprofessional. They were a means to which no highminded official or gentleman would resort.

A good many people talk, in connection with the present anti-“Mormon” raid, about search warrants. Such a document is not authority to search an individual, but for the recovery of stolen property. A warrant of arrest may, under the common law, give authority to enter premises where the accused is presumed to be. This, however, is a disputed point, in view of our written statutes. But we repeat, a subpoena is not authority to make forcible entrance into private premises.

It may be held that an evident effort to evade the service of a subpoena is a questionable proceeding on the part of a person who is wanted as a witness. This depends upon circumstances. In the instance under consideration they were exceptional, as was subsequently demonstrated as the investigation proceeded.

The witness wanted was a lady. The sad experience of others of her sex placed on the witness stand in cases of the same character naturally gave her a terror of being placed in a similar position. Doubtless there are delicate and refined ladies who would as soon face death as be subjected to the brutal browbeating, purposely broad and indecent interrogations, sneers and innuendoes of Prosecuting Attorney Dickson and, if possible, his more unscrupulous and vulgar assistant, C.S. Varlan.

If there be any doubt in regard to the brutality of the ordeal through which delicate ladies are dragged by the prosecution let such peruse the account of yesterday’s proceedings before Commissioner McKay. After Mr. Dickson had interrogated a lady witness and received answers completely covering the ground in regard to the most intimate relations a woman could have with her husband, he propounded another incorporating elements of the broadest vulgarity, and indecency. In view of its being entirely unnecessary no gentleman would have thus insulted a lady, the fact of her being temporarily at his mercy making his proceeding all the more inexcusable. Not content with this way of putting the lady witness through a crucible of cruelty, he followed up his insulting course by broad innuendoes in relation the winding up of a clock, his ribald irony being of such a character that it was seized upon this morning as presenting an opportunity to the Salt Lake Tribune to get off one of its nauseating obscene jokes.

Let decent people note yesterday’s proceedings in the case against Mr. Young and they can easily form their own opinions as to whether Mr. Dickson acted the role of a dignified and conscientious officer and gentleman, or whether he enacted the part of a bully, an intimidator and an ignorer of ordinary amenity and decency. There will not be any difficulty of reaching a conclusion as to the character of our opinion upon the subject.

[Journal History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Feb. 11, 1885, 12]
[Deseret News, Feb. 11. 1885]

[transcribed and proofread by David Grow, May 2006]


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