The Trial of Peter Zenger

By Vincent Buranelli | Go to book overview

Appendix II
Zenger's Lawyers on the Behavior of His Judges

James Alexander and William Smith, disbarred for their exceptions to the commissions of the two Justices of the Supreme Court, won reinstatement in their practice after an appeal to the legislature. Their appeal was printed by Peter Zenger under the title, The Complaint of James Alexander and William Smith to the Committee of the General Assembly of the Colony of New York ( 1735). Here is the centerpiece of their argument:

We conceived the innocence of our client no sufficient security while we esteemed the Governor his prosecutor, who had the judges in his power. We had too much reason for caution from the conduct of the Chief Justice. We heard how His Honor had vented his displeasure against him when he accidentally met him in the street on the Sunday before his arrest. We had been witnesses to sundry warm charges and moving addresses to several grand juries plainly leveled against Zenger, and with intention to procure his country to indict him. And we saw his name among that committee of the Council that conferred with a committee of this House in order to procure a concurrence to condemn some of Zenger Journals without giving him an opportunity to defend them. We heard that the Chief Justice was a principal manager at that conference and spoke much on that occasion. We saw his name among those who issued that order of the Council that commanded the magistrates of this city to attend the burning of some of the Journals, and which sets forth

-139-

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The Trial of Peter Zenger
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Preface iii
  • Foreword v
  • Contents vii
  • Part One. Introduction 1
  • Part Two. the Trial 77
  • Appendix I - The New York Weekly Journal Covers an Election 135
  • Appendix II - Zenger's Lawyers on the Behavior of His Judges 139
  • Appendix III - James Alexander on Freedom of the Press 141
  • Notes to the Introduction 144
  • Suggestions for Further Reading 145
  • Index 151
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