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Indictments for murder, found since the date of the last annual report, have been disposed of as follows:
WALTER Smith of Clinton, indicted in Worcester County, May, 1903, for the murder of Thomas Smith, at Clinton, April 23, 1903. He was arraigned May 22, 1903, and pleaded guilty of murder in the second degree. This plea was accepted by the government, and he was thereupon sentenced to State Prison for life. David I. Walsh was assigned by the court as counsel for the defendant. The case was in charge of District Attorney Rockwood Hoar.
GEORGE L. 0. PERRY, indicted in Middlesex County, February, 1903, for the murder of Agnes McPhee, at Somerville, Oct. 3, 1902, and Clara A. Morton, at Belmont, Nov. 1, 1902. The prisoner was not arraigned. He died on March 8, 1903. The case was in charge of District Attorney George A. Sanderson.
Nicolo FIORE, indicted in Essex County, January, 1903, for the murder of Bennedetto D'Pietro, at Haverhill, Dec. 3, 1902. On Feb. 2, 1903, he was arraigned, and pleaded not guilty. Edmund B. Fuller was assigned by the court as counsel for the defendant. At the September sitting, 1903, of the Superior Court, the defendant was again indicted for manslaughter. Upon this indictment he pleaded guilty, and was sentenced to not less than fourteen nor more than seventeen years to State Prison. The indictment for murder was placed on file. The case was in charge of District Attorney W. Scott Peters.
JOHN MAROTTA of Boston, indicted in Suffolk County, June, 1903, for the murder of Katherine J. Keenan, at Boston, April 26, 1903. He was arraigned June 9, 1903, and pleaded not guilty. Frank Keezer appeared as counsel for the defendant. On Oct. 27, 1903, the defendant was tried for manslaughter, and found guilty by the jury. He was thereupon sentenced to State Prison for not less than ten nor more than thirteen years. The case was in charge of District Attorney Oliver Stevens.
MARY E. AMBLER of Rutland, indicted in Worcester County, for the murder of her infant child, at Rutland, Jan. 21, 1903. She was arraigned Aug. 17, 1903, and pleaded guilty of murder in the second degree. This plea was accepted by the government, and thereupon she was sentenced to the Reformatory Prison for life. John W. Sheehan was assigned by the court as counsel for the defendant. The case was in charge of District Attorney Rockwood Hoar.
The following indictments for murder are now pending :
Wong CHUNG and CHARLIE CHin of Boston, indicted for murder in the second degree, in Suffolk County, November, 1903, for the murder of Wong Yok Chong, at Boston, Oct. 2, 1903. They were arraigned Nov. 11, 1903, and pleaded not guilty. Charles W. Bartlett, Michael J. Creed, Thomas J. Barry and Edward T. McGettrick appeared as counsel for the defendants. In November, 1903, the defendants were tried by a jury before White, J. The result was a verdict of guilty upon the indictment. Exceptions were taken, and the case is now pending. The case is in charge of District Attorney Oliver Stevens.
GEORGE WILLIAM HERBERT, alias HUBER, indicted in Berkshire County, January, 1903, for the murder of Gertrude Ottillie Bertha Rentall, at Monterey, Sept. 14, 1902. He was arraigned July 21, 1903, and pleaded not guilty. William Turtle and Charles Giddings were assigned by the court as counsel for the defendant. No further action has been taken. The case is in charge of District Attorney John F. Noxon.
Rosario DISANO of Stoughton, indicted in Norfolk County, September, 1903, for the murder of Hiram H. Poole, at Canton, Aug. 2, 1903. He was arraigned Sept. 11, 1903, and pleaded not guilty. James E. Cotter and Frank Keezer were assigned by the court as counsel for the defendant. No further action has been taken. The case is in charge of District Attorney Asa P. French.
SELMAR AKERSON of Quincy, indicted in Norfolk County, December, 1903, for the murder of her infant child, at Quincy, Sept. 10, 1903. She was arraigned Dec. 14, 1903, and pleaded not guilty. No further action has been taken. The case is in charge of District Attorney Asa P. French.
ANGLES SNELL, indicted in Bristol County, November, 1903, for the murder of Tillinghast Kirby. He was arraigned Nov. 18, 1903, and pleaded not guilty. Hugo A. Dubuque and James P. Doran were assigned by the court as counsel for the defendant. No further action has been taken. The case is in charge of District Attorney James M. Swift.
JOHN E. GALLAGHER of Taunton, indicted in Bristol County, February, 1900, for the murder of Joseph F. McMahon, at Taunton, Nov. 21, 1899. He was arraigned April 22, 1903, and pleaded not guilty. Milton Reed and Harold F. Hathaway were assigned as counsel for the defendant. No further action has been taken. The case is in charge of District Attorney James M. Swift.
PAYMENT DAMAGES FOR PROPERTIES TAKEN UNDER
RIGHT OF EMINENT DOMAIN. I urge, as of the utmost importance to the interests of the Commonwealth and of municipalities as well, the enactment of a law authorizing the payment or tender of such sum of money in damages as may be considered by the Commonwealth or a municipality adequate compensation for property taken under the right of eminent domain; and that petitioners shall recover no interest after such offer, tender or payment, except upon such sum in damages as shall, upon final award, exceed the amount of such offer, tender or payment. By reason of delays, in part caused by the congested state of the dockets of the Superior Court, in part because of conditions inevitable in all litigation, and in part because many petitioners are quite content complacently to endure, and to encourage, postponement in the settlement of claims which, until final adjudication, bear interest constantly accruing at a rate which insures an investment of rare excellence, enormous sums of interest are annually added to the public burdens, and the condition must continue unless some change be made in the law. Obviously, in almost every such case awaiting trial, the only issue to be determined is the amount to which the petitioner is rightfully entitled, there being some sum concededly due. The respondent ought not to be compelled to pay interest on an admitted liability, immediate payment of which is suspended only because the petitioner claims the amount to be insufficient. The suggested legislation would be of practical and substantial benefit to those persons of small means whose property has been taken, who, until payment is made, may be deprived of their resources. Such persons would thus be immediately provided with part, at least, of the amount to which they are entitled, without suffering any prejudice to their right to recover any further damages to which they may be entitled. Interest ought never to be recoverable upon any obligations except such as are disputed, or upon which payment is postponed by the debtor.
THE ACCUMULATION OF BUSINESS IN THE SUPERIOR COURT.
It is apparent that the Legislature must consider, and, at no distant day, take action upon, some plan to substantially relieve the congested condition of business in the Superior Court. No improvement in this respect can be reasonably expected with the present force of justices. Material benefit would result if some of the present duties of the court were transferred to other tribunals, or if the jurisdiction of the latter were extended. To that end, I renew my former recommendation, that exclusive original jurisdiction be conferred upon the Court of Land Registration upon petitions for quieting real estate titles, and upon writs of entry, adequate provision being made for appeal, upon actual questions of fact, to the Superior Court, exceptions and reports upon questions of law to be taken directly to the Supreme Judicial Court.
And I invite the very careful consideration of the General Court to the question whether it is not advisable and appropriate to confer upon the Probate Court original and exclusive jurisdiction upon libels for divorce and petitions for the annulment of marriage.
I suggest that good reason exists for relieving the Superior Court from the duty of approving the by-laws of towns, .not only because that court would be so freed from this not very onerous burden, but rather because there is doubt, at least, as to its constitutional power to exercise a function that may be held to be legislative rather than judicial.
It has come to my knowledge that immediate action is required to provide sufficient accommodations for the Superior Court in Suffolk County, as the additional sessions which the present business seems to require cannot, under existing conditions, well be attempted, and those sessions now required by statute cannot be held with reasonable convenience. Business has already accumulated in three counties of the Commonwealth to such an extent as to threaten, and even present, serious embarrassment and delay to litigants, for which little prospect of relief appears, and a like condition is becoming imminent in another county.
SITTINGS OF THE SUPERIOR COURT IN BERKSHIRE COUNTY.
I am informed that a change in the sittings of the Superior Court for civil business in Berkshire County is deemed imperative, and I recommend that the three sittings for civil business now provided for be abolished, and in lieu thereof there shall be two sittings, one to be held beginning on the first Monday in April, and the other on the first Monday of October.
COMPENSATION OF STENOGRAPHERS. It appears that the statutory provisions with regard to compensation of court stenographers for transcripts of evidence should be amended and perfected, the provisions now obtaining not being consistent, and not ensuring to the stenographers in different sessions a uniform compensation.