Fred's "American Legal Quotations" scores a hit

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Thu Oct 3 20:25:13 UTC 2013

At 10/2/2013 11:07 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>On Oct 2, 2013, at 9:27 PM, Joel S. Berson wrote:
> > Yes Salem is in Massachusetts.  In its colonial law, all capital
> > crimes had to be presented to and by a grand jury.  It was the
> > prevalent belief, not only of magistrates but also of the people,
> > that witches existed.  The controversy was whether spectral evidence
> > was valid.
>Ah, spectral evidence...reminds me of that Sally Rogers song about
>Susanna Martin from Amesbury (just 37 minutes from Salem via I-95,
>and even less by broomstick):

Susanna Martin gets 5 pages (a lot; the average for the 20 executed
is about 2) in Daniel Allen Hearn's "Legal Executions in New England" (1999).

I see that I was in error about a newly-appointed governor stopping
the trials.  Sir William Phipps set up the court on his arrival, and
then departed on a military expedition against Canada.  When he
returned, he was dismayed by what had ensued (including, I think, an
accusation against his wife), and then dissolved the court.


>Susanna Martin was a witch who lived in Amesbury
>With brilliant eye and saucy tongue she worked her sorcery
>And when into the judge's court the sheriffs brought her hither
>The lilacs drooped as she passed by
>And then were seen to wither
>A witch she was, though trim and neat with comely head held high
>It did not seem that one as she with Satan so would vie
>And when in court when the afflicted ones proclaimed her evil ways
>She laughed aloud and boldly then
>Met Cotton Mather's gaze
>The neighbors 'round swore to the truth of her Satanic powers
>That she could fly o'er land and stream and come dry-shod through showers
>At night, twas said, she had appeared a cat of fearsome mien
>"Avoid she-devil," they had cried
>To keep their spirits clean.
>The spectral evidence was weighed, then stern the parson spoke
>"Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live, tis written in the Book"
>Susanna Martin so accused, spoke with flaming eyes
>"I scorn these things for they are naught
>But filthy gossips' lies"
>[she's hanged a bit later in the song based on the spectral
>evidence; quick justice in those days]
>LH (a few yards down from Mather St., which is named for guess who)
> >  After about 100 (I think) had been convicted and about 20
> > executed, there was widespread repugnance.  We can't say what later
> > grand juries would have done, because the prosecutions were halted by
> > a newly-appointed governor.
> >
> > Joel
> >
> > At 10/1/2013 10:58 PM, David A. Daniel wrote:
> >> Isn't Salem - as in witch hunting - in Massachusetts? Did they have grand
> >> juries? If so, I guess all those charges must have been justified.
> >> DAD
> >>
> >> -Sent: Tuesday, October 01, 2013 8:58 PM
> >> Subject: Fred's "American Legal Quotations" scores a hit
> >>
> >> -
> >> poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> >> Subject:      Fred's "American Legal Quotations" scores a hit
> >>
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >> ---
> >>
> >> "There is a famous saying, a grand jury will indict a ham sandwich,"
> >> said Bassil.  "I look forward to challenging this in court.  I really
> >> do.  If a grand jury is supposed to protect citizens from
> >> overreaching prosecutors, then there is a lot of work to be done here."
> >>
> >> Bassil, counsel for Shayanna Jenkins, Aaron Hernandez's fiancee and
> >> baby mother, is objecting to her indictment for perjury by a Bristol
> >> County, Massachusetts, grand jury.  A spokesman for the Bristol
> >> District Attorney "defended the grand jury process, noting that the
> >> indictment was voted on by the grand jurors, who are citizens of
> >> Bristol County."
> >>
> >> Boston Globe, today.
> >>
> >> Massachusetts has a long history of grand juries not indicting ham
> >> sandwiches, dating from colonial times, when if a law was considered
> >> overly severe or its punishment harsh, the citizens of a grand jury
> >> might refuse to indict and those of a petit jury refuse to
> >> convict.  (One good example is charges of adultery.)  Bassil seems
> >> not to understand the rectitude of Massachusetts grand juries -- if
> >> this one thought the charge was unjust, it would not have voted to indict.
> >>
> >> Joel
> >>
> >> ------------------------------------------------------------
> >> The American Dialect Society -
> >>
> >> ------------------------------------------------------------
> >> The American Dialect Society -
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society -
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

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