The Man Who Rode the Tiger: The Life and Times of Judge Samuel Seabury

By Herbert Mitgang | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9
Wanted. Man to Fight Tiger

AT eleven o'clock on the evening of August 26, 1930, the telephone rang in Judge Seabury's suite at the Carlton Hotel in London. A reporter for an American wire service was calling. Was it true that Seabury had been named to investigate the magistrates' courts in New York? Did he have any statement to make about his appointment, about corruption, about Mayor Walker? The Judge, puzzled, said he had no comment, not a word until he received official notification. He replaced the phone on the hook, pondered the cryptic information for a few moments, and then went back to reading The Just Lawyer, a rare first edition, printed in 1631, that he had tracked down after years of searching all over the British Isles.

The following morning a cable arrived from Edward R. Finch, the acting presiding justice of the First Department, Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court. It informed Seabury that he had been appointed referee to conduct an investigation of the magistrates' courts of New York City. Judge Finch's appointment order had come after consultation with Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt, who had requested a broad formal investigation.

He handed the cable to Maud, and when she had read it, he told her what he knew of the trouble brewing in Manhattan's criminal courts. He decided they would have to return to the United States at once. Maud, as usual, did not object. They got in touch with their

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