100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

Corrupt Judge Resigns In Washington

Cornelius Holgate Hanford was born in Winchester, Iowa in 1849. He began to study of law in 1873 and was admitted to the bar in February 1875. In March 1889 Hanford was appointed Chief Justice of Washington Territory by President Benjamin Harrison. In 1890 Hanford was appointed Washington state’s first federal district court judge.

In May 1912 Hanford deprived Leonard Oleson of Tacoma, Washington his citizenship papers 2 years after they had been granted to him because Hanson deemed he was a Socialist.

“Oleson admitted he was a Socialist, a frequenter of assemblages of Socialists in which he participated as a speaker, advocating propaganda for radical changes in this country. He claimed to have a clear understanding of the Constitution of the United States and to know by one of its articles deprivation of life, liberty and property without due process of law is forbidden, and yet the evidence introduced in his behalf proved that the party with which he was affiliated and whose principles he advocates has for its main object the complete elimination of property rights in this country.”

Socialist congressman from Wisconsin Victor Berger brought the matter up in Washington and accused Hanson of drunkenness and corruption. Charges were brought by the US House of Representative’s Judiciary Committee and impeachment proceedings have begun with many witnesses spoke of Hanson intoxication in public and in the court. His defense was these were mannerisms that were misunderstood.

On July 22, 1912 Judge Hanford resigned. This will curtail the investigations which were beginning to reveal corrupt rulings favoring large corporations and influential attorneys who were friends of Hanson. Scheduled testimony was to be heard that might implicate powerful interests in the Pacific Northwest. With this resignation, it is thought that the House will drop its investigation.

Judge Cornelius Holgate Hanford


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