Mothers Hysterical in Boy Vandal Trial

Judge Gavel and Book Stock Photo

Camden Courier-Post – June 29, 1933

Refuses Leniency to Sons, Blames Hartmann, Who Hits Back, Charges Inconsistency and Reveals Threat

Hysterics among three mothers, one of whom fainted, as their young sons were held for court yesterday inspired another attack on Police Judge Garfield Pancoast by Frank J. Hartmann, Jr., secretary of the North Camden Civic Association.

The three women shouted frantically as their sons, each 15, were led from the court to be taken to the Juvenile Detention Home on charges of incorrigibility. They had been accused of vandalism in North Camden. It was brought out, however, that Hartmann did not make the complaints against the boys, who will be detained until the next session of juvenile court is held by Judge Samuel. M. Shay.

Hartmann in a statement last night disclosed that a threat had been made against him by the father of one of the boys who allegedly declared he “had a gun and was going to use it.”

Led from the courtroom after screaming and after one had fainted, the women cried so bitterly in the corridor that court attendants ordered them to leave.

The episode was one of the most turbulent in the history of the Camden police court, according to veteran attendants. So great was the turmoil there was question whether Pancoast would not have to recess other hearings.

Pancoast remained adamant in his decision despite the shrill protests of the mothers; the plea of one of the boys, who begged for release with arms outstretched, and of the complainant, who urged leniency.

Criticizes Hartmann

Pancoast criticized Hartmann for “condemning him for showing leniency in such cases, yet never making formal complaint himself against youthful vandals in a specific case.”

Pancoast added that he “was compelled to act as he did because of the facts in the case and general complaints against vandalism in North Camden and other parts of the city.

The boys are: Lester Jamison, of 326 North Second Street; Frank Smith, of 521 Elm Street, and Henry Egerton, 15, of 212 Bailey Street.

Complaint against the youths was made by G. T. Moore, of 313 State Street, who charged that he had found the boys destroying a property at the northeast corner of Third and State Streets.

Value $25,000, Now 25 cents

“That property once was worth about $25,000,” Moore testified, “Today it could be bought for 25 cents because of vandalism.”

The youths admitted they had been on the premises, but denied they had caused any damage.

The court then directed that a disorderly conduct charge against them be changed to incorrigibility, the complaint for which was signed by Moore.

Moore testified that the defendants and other boys had been warned to keep off the property, but they would cross the street and ridicule him. He urged leniency, however, when the court revealed that the boys would be sent to the detention home. He said he did not want to see the, youths placed in confinement and their reputations blemished.

Calls Him Liar

“I can’t be lenient in his case,” Pancoast replied. “I’ve been charged by Mr. Hartmann, of the North Camden Civic Association, with taking care of criminals and politicians who come to this court, and that is a lie. Also there has been a great deal of publicity about vandalism in North Camden, columns and columns of it, yet Hartmann has never made a single formal complaint against any boy in my court. As a citizen, if he knows such things are going on, it is his duty, as well as that of other citizens, to make a complaint to us.

“This occurrence by these boys is undoubtedly a part of the vandalism going on in North Camden and I’m going to send these boys to the detention home.”

Moore again pleaded for leniency for the boys, but Pancoast said he had no other alternative than to sentence them under the circumstances.

The arrests on complaint of Moore were made by Gus Reihm and Wilbur Prentiss, motorcycle policemen.

Civic Clubs Protest

Apprehension of youthful vandals has been urged repeatedly by the North Camden Civic Association officers, including Hartmann, who said recently that damage by the vandals in the city has reached more than $500,000 and the city officials and police have “done little or nothing about it.”

Hartmann and other officers of the association appeared before the city commission last week, urging prompt remedial measures by the city officials, and charging that too much leniency is shown in such cases. Mayor Stewart replied that the city had taken steps to eliminate the evil and was doing, all that could be done to end it.

North Camden Civic Association officers, including Hartmann, who said recently that damage by the vandals in the city has reached more than $500,000 and the city officials and police have done little or nothing about it.,

Hartmann and other officers of the association appeared before the city commission last week, urging prompt remedial measures by the city officials, and charging that too much leniency is shown in such cases. Mayor Stewart replied that the city had taken steps to eliminate the evil and was doing, all that could be done to end it. The civic association’s officers protested nevertheless that this was not so, and that the police could minimize the damage if they were on the job.

Hartmann, in company with Frederick von Nieda, president of the Congress of Civic Associations, to which the North Camden association is allied, and George I. Shaw, vice president of the uptown group, conferred with Captain Arthur Colsey, at police headquarters. Captain Colsey promised further co-operation of the police in stamping out the practice of wrecking vacant dwellings and invited all citizen to report such instances to the police.

Hartmann’s Reply

In replying to Pancoast’s criticism Hartmann said:

“I learned from the father of one of the boys committed to jail by Judge Pancoast that the three boys could not be released unless I gave the word. This parent was quite alarmed, and I am told made threats against me. He declared that he had a gun and was going to use it. I can appreciate this man’s feelings, because I understand that when he returned he found his wife in a terribly excited condition, an because of the fact that their son was arrested for playing tag with some chums. But I can’t go to the detention home and order release of the boys. That’s impossible. Only the judge can do that.

“The attitude of Judge Pancoast in criticizing me indirectly as the complainant not only is uncalled for but is the direct cause of this threat, as well as the distracted state of the boy’s mother.

“Judge Pancoast is trying to throw a cloud over the real state of affairs in Camden.

“As a member of the North Camden Civic Association I have helped to point out conditions here that have existed for a long time without the police taking any notice of them, conditions which should not have been tolerated and which have caused considerable expense to property owners.

“This needless expense could have been prevented by the police and Judge Pancoast, in a quiet, yet determined manner.

‘Children Victims of Anger’

“Simply because we have criticized him and the police is not reason for Judge Pancoast to vent his anger at us upon innocent children, such as he has done in this particular case.

“He states that because we have complained it is necessary for him to hold the three young boys for court.

“On top of this he said that we never made any complaints.

“The latter is true, for we have not accused any child and do not intend to do so. It is the job of the police department to stop the wave of’ vandalism, not our task.

“Judge Pancoast’s attempt to blame me in this situation is ridiculous. As I look at it he seems to be trying to evade the real issues.

‘Reprimand Sufficient’

“He made a disgraceful example of three boys, to whom a reprimand would have been sufficient had they; been brought before him for merely playing tag, but if they were accused of vandalism then I think his action in committing them to the detention home was justified. But, since the charge against them was changed from vandalism to incorrigibility it. is apparent that there is some doubt in the judge’s mind.

“Even with this reasonable doubt I cannot reconcile a case with the disposition of two others, immediately prior to the hearing of the three boys. I understand that two defendants on charges of stealing pipe from a vacant dwelling were dismissed.

“The difference in these two instances, certainly does not give evidence of Judge Pancoast’s sincerity in dealing with vandalism, or convince me that he is co-operating with the mayor in correcting the evils of which the Citizens and taxpayers have rightfully complained.


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