May 2, 1908
Growing out of the use of the word "blackmail" yesterday in the taking of depositions in the Richards-Humes $100,000 alienation of affections case, Attorney Battle McCardle resented the method of examination adopted by Attorney John T. Harding, and a personal encounter ensued. Mr. Harding struick Mr. McCardle and was himself about to be struck when others interfered. McCardle was pulled into another room and Harding forced back to his desk.
Notary Crum summarily adjourned the hearing until 10 o'clock this morning, when E. J. Richards is to go on the stand in the law offices of Brown, Harding & Brown, to be cross-examined by Attorney Harding, for Humes, and later to be cross-examined by his own lawyer, McCardle. The "blackmail" question, which caused hostilities yesterday, will be put again, but this time it will not be resented. McCardle, discussing the affair yesterday afternoon, said, "It is a privileged question and, if it is put exceptions will not again be taken to it. Tempers which were lost can remain lost so far as I am concerned."
The evidence given yesterday was prosaic, for the reason that it was cut short by the fisticuffs. The cross-examination today will be, so it is predicted, most sensational . Even at that the attorney for the plaintiff has promised to omit all mention of the wives of some of the men who, with their husbands, belonged to the kissing ring, and at least one husband is to be left out of the controversy.
The alderman in the coterie will be named, however, and his deposition is to be taken. This will be done under the new regime which was ushered in yesterday morning when Circuit Judge H. L. McCune appointed Senator A. D. Cooper, special commissioner, to hear evidence. Commissioner Cooper will begin his hearings about next Monday.
At the opening of the hearing yesterday, Richards was compelled to tell who it was tipped off to him that while the Beardsley administration had him making a speech at the Sexton hotel on the matter of clean streets, Humes was visiting the Richards flat. H e said it was a detective, but could not remember from what agency nor what the detective's name was.
"Beside the Indian game, you did a Napoleon stunt out at Mr. Humes's house, did you not?" Attorney Harding inquired.
"I did," was the answer, "but that was all of it." The attorney did not ask for particulars, and Richards did not volunteer them, more than to say after the hearing: "They said I looked like Napoleon, and I used to pull my hair down like that.
"Your fun was all innocent when you and these others met?" was asked.
"Do you not know that it was all innocent?"
"I do not know that it was. Probably part of it was."
"You were perfectly innocent in your kissing part of it?"
"I certainly was," Richards answered.
Taking a new tack, Attorney Harding asked Richards if he knew that two weeks ago yesterday his own attorney, Mr. McCardle, had been out to the interrogator's house and had suggested a settlement before going to court, and that Humes had refused to offer a cent to forestall the suit. Attorney McCardle instructed Richards to refuse to answer, and in that way half a dozen questions were not replied to.
"I would like you to keep out of this, Mr. McCardle," said Mr. Harding. "When I want you to testify I will take your deposition."
"And you will get it all right. You cannot bluff me. I told you in your house what sort of man I am. No one in the world can bluff me, John."
Notary McCrum had left the room and a messenger was sent for him. In his absence Attorney Harding asked Witness Richards:
"Did not you or your representative come to my house and threaten to expose Humes and Mrs. Humes and their friends and their friends' wives unless there was a settlement reached?"
"Refuse to answer," again was the prompting.
"Did not Mr. Humes and myself say it was blackmail and --"
The row interrupted the delivery of this question. Attorney McCardle recalled the private mission to Attorney Harding's house, spoke of Mr. Harding having charged him with being privy to sharp practice but afterwards calling him up by telephone and apologizing for saying anything so offensive in his own house. The lie passed, the two attorneys rose to their feet simultaneously and struck at each other across the table. Someone seized Harding by the arms, and meantime others got between the two lawyers and prevented a continuance.
Alderman E. E. Morris issued the following statement yesterday:
"Believing that my standing with the people of Kansas City is such that a statement from me, regarding this unfortunate matter, will be received with full credit and that it will help to do justice to innocent persons, I am pleased to say that I have known Mr. Humes for many years and am glad indeed to claim him as my friend; I have always found him to be an honorable, upright gentleman wholly incapable of any of the things with which he is charged. I have known Mr. and Mrs. Richards for about a year and, since becoming acquainted with them, have met them at the Humes home perhaps five or six times. On most of these occasions six or seven couples were present and participated in the entertainment and hospitality of Mr. and Mrs. Humes. Should the case ever come to trial it will be shown that these participants were clean, decent, moral representative citizens against whose characters not one truthful word can be said.
"It is true that the parties were jolly ones but they were not in any sense rounds of Bacchanalian revelry. It is true that as a rule the refreshments did usually include a mild homemade cocktail or similar drink and, incidentally, what home entertainment in Kansas City does not frequently contain the same features? I believe that all the men, and possibly a part of the ladies, partook of these refreshments. There was never the slightest evidence on the part of any one that they were intoxicated.
"True, there were a few kisses exchanged but they were in games and amid the laughter and good natured raillery of all those present. There was not at any time, or any place, any clandestine exercises of this kind except those attempted once or twice by Richards and for which he was most beautifully 'called.' There was not any kissing at all at the party given at my house except that I believe I "dared" my wife to kiss "Dot" Richards as he came into our flat. The conduct of everyone at all times was above reproach with the single exception of Richards himself. He attempted liberties and stories which do not belong in the curriculum of a gentleman and, indeed, on one occasion had to be forcibly restrained by a gentleman present. His boorishness and complete ignorance of the ethics of the gentleman finally became unbearable and resulted in breaking up a jolly crowd of thoroughly good people. Against this crowd can truthfully be said but one thing and that is that they admitted a cad among them."
Richards replies to the charge that he is seeking to involve many in order to coerce Humes by protesting that he is screening some. During the cross-examination today he will be asked to go more fully into some replies he made on direct examination.
Next week, however, his attorney will put on the stand Humes, Alderman Morris and possibly others.