January 24, 1907
Dispute Over Missing Legal Papers Caused AttorneyHardin to Land on Attorney Buckner,Who Grabbed a Chair--Jury Was Dismissed.
It did not add to the decorum of the circuit court yesterday when Lawyer Ben T. Hardin and Claim Agent John Mathis, of the Metropolitan Street Railway Company, played tennis, using Lawyer T. B. Buckner for the ball in division No. 3 of the circuit court. A composite view of the various versions of the unpleasantness would tend to show that Mr. Buckner said something offensive to Mr. Hardin, that Mr. Hardin thereupon tapped Mr. Buckner on the east side of his face and that while Mr. Buckner was drawing a chair with which to reply to Mr. Hardin, Mr. Mathis flanked the chair movement and landed one behind Mr. Buckner's ear, where he would hear it and pay attention.
Judge Seehorn, as official referee, fined Hardin and Mathis $50 each for contempt of court, but is holding the fine till the case is over. Meantime both men are prisoners of the court -- on their own recognizance.
It all happened while a panel of jurors was being called. Court was in session, but Judge Seehorn was not on the bench. Pending the bringing up of the panel from the floor below he was stretching his judicial legs by walking about on the court room floor. A dispute began among the lawyers regarding the disappearance of certain papers in the case of A. Cole against the Metropolitan Street Railway Company which was then called for trial. The dispute grew warmer and finally Buckner said:
"It seems as if you are trying to keep the records of this case out of this court."
"If you say that," said Hardin, "you say what is a falsehood."
Here the testimony differs. Hardin says Buckner directed his charge unmistakably at him. Buckner says he did not. At any rate--
Hardin, who is more than 6 feet tall, had landed with his open hand on the left side of Buckner's face. The two men weigh about the same, though Hardin is much the taller. Both of them are older than they were a few years ago. Buckner accumulated a chair and was trying to impress it on Hardin when Mathis boarded it with one hand and struck Buckner in the back of the head with the other.
By this time Judge Seehorn, who was standing close to the two men, and the court deputy sheriff got into the game and stopped the fight. While this was going on the jury was coming in to take its place for the trial.
"This panel will be excused," said Judge Seehorn, "and another will be called. I will fine Mr. Hardin and Mr. Mathis $50 each for contempt of court."
A new jury was brought and the lawyers went on with the case.
When court was over for the day Judge Seehorn suspended the fine till the case is finished, which will be sometime today.