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September 2, 1909



Flattering Description of Despera-
does in Yellowbacks Belied by
Experience Here, Declares
Criminal Judge.

Fade away, Deadwood Dick and all other bold highwaymen who look so strong and big in the yellowbacks. You're fiction. The real highwayman and criminal is between 18 and 22. he's a puny little fellow who has not much more strength of mind than he has of body.

After having carefully inspected Deadwood Dick and all his kind as they pass in and out of the criminal court of Jackson County, Judge Ralph S. Latshaw says:

"The real criminal is not the fierce-looking man, with long mustaches drooping in a manner to make his face look fiercer than it was made by nature. He is not tall and stately in appearance, nor does he stalk with his head up and the proud glitter of defiance in his eye.

"Criminal courts have the hardest time with the boy, just growing into his manhood. He is the fellow who fills the lists of those convicted of crime. From 17 or 18 to 20 or 22 years old is the worst stage.

"Look over the records of the highwaymen and burglars who have been sent to the penitentiary from this court, not only in recent months, but for years. All of them are young men, undersized and weakly. They put a revolver in their pocket and go out to commit crime. If it were not for the weapon concealed in their pockets they would not dare steal. It is the additional false courage the firearm gives them that is responsible for the crimes they commit.

"When you go walking in the evening and see, in the shadows, the tall form of someone slinking away into further darkness, don't feel for your pocketbook. It is safe. But steer around the two little fellows who never had enough hair on their face to grow one tenth of the mustache which Deadwood Dick and his fellows sport in the lithographs.

"Do you mean to say," the judge was asked, "that stature has a direct bearing on crime?"

"Only to this extent," said he, "that a child born of average sized parents, who is smaller than they, is commonly a weakling. And with this physical weakness comes mental deficiency, to a certain extent. The late Judge Wofford used to say: 'These boys give me more trouble than all the rest of the county.' He spoke from long experience, and from keen observation of conditions which obtain now as well as then."

"But many Kansas City lawyers say they read penny dreadfuls to relax their mind," was suggested. "Do you never read them?"

"No, thank you. I do not care for that kind of literature," said the judge.

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March 11, 1909


Thieves Enter Criminal Court Build-
ing While Court in Session.

Not since a thief walked into the office of Judge John W. Wofford in the criminal court building and walked off with the jurist's overcoat has there been so much excitement among deputy marshals as yesterday.

It was about 11 o'clock when Mrs. Margaret Simmons, matron at the jail, reported that her room, not more than twenty-five feet from the judge's bench, had been robbed of $44.25, a watch and other jewelry.

At the time of the robbery court was in session, and had the intruder made much noise, it might have easily been noticed. A chisel, found lying on the floor, gave evidence of how the desk drawers came to be forced.

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April 21, 1907


Checked Out When No Funds Were
in Bank, the Charge.

When a city detective hunts up a private detective and says he wants some "detecting" done the private detective should not feel proud that a city detective has sought him, of all others, to do the detecting, but in reality should be suspecting that the detecting game is only a ruse and that the city detective may really be suspecting the private detective.

This proved to be the case yesterday when Detective Philip Murphy went to a private detective agency in the Temple block and asked that L. C. Henning be allowed to "do some private work." Murphy was really trying to locate Henning and the ruse brought him to view. He was told of the "private work" Murphy wanted as they walked along toward police heaadquarters, where Henning was booked for investigation.

On April 17 Henning deposited $5 with the Pioneer Trust Company, telling Walton H. Holmes, for whom he used to be a gripman, that he would place $1,500 in the bank in a few days. It is charged that Henning then gave a check for $10 to A. E. Murphy, 820 East Twelfth street, one for $7.50 to Charles Knelle, a Twelfth street butcher, and another for $6 to Charles A. Bond. It was said at the bank that other checks had been durned down. Henning did not deny making he checks, but said it was his intention to deposit money to cover them.

The records at the criminal court show that Henning was convicted on a similar charge January 6, 1906, and sentenced to two years. On March 2 of the same year the sentence was reduced to one year in jaail and January 7 last he was paroled by Judge John W. Wofford.

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April 2, 1907


Wallace Gets Criminal Division, With
Porterfield as a Relief -- Slover
Will Try Civil Cases

The appointments of W. H. Wallace as criminal judge, James H. Slover and E. E. Porterfield as circuit judges for Jackson county, were announced yesterday by Governor Folk. Judge Slover, who was named by the governor as criminal judge at the time of the death of Judge Wofford, tendered his resignation as such Saturday in order that the governor's new judgeship slate might be perfected immediately. The new judges will assume the duties of their positions without delay.

From the time the last legislature created the two new circuit judgeships in this county it has been generally understood that Judge Slover would surrender the criminal bench for one of the new circuit courts. There was no surprise occasioned by the appointment of the three above named judges, as it was understood several days ago that the governor had decided upon the man for the various places, and was holding the announcement back in order to give Judge Slover time in which to resign as criminal judge.

W. H. Wallace, who takes charge of the criminal bench, is a criminal lawyer of many years' experience. As prosecuting attorney for Jackson county, he conducted the prosecution of Frank James at Gallatin in 1882. This was his first celebrated case. His appointment to the criminal bench comes as a sort of balm to the disappointment occasioned by his defeat last fall as congressman from the Fifth district.

Judge Slover has served on the local circuit bench for twenty-two years, with two short interruptions. He was a candidate for the circuit bench last fall, but went down to defeat along with the rest of the Democratic ticket. His appointment as criminal judge followed the death of Judge Wofford. He preferred the civil branch of the work to the criminal, hence the transfer.

Attorney Porterfield becomes judge of the Seventh division of the circuit court, which is also division No. 2 of the criminal court. He will serve as a relief to the criminal court whenever its docket becomes too large for Judge Wallace to dispose of in proper time. It will be his first experience on the bench, although he has been a practicing attorney before the Jackson county bar for the past twenty years. He was recommended for Judge Wofford's place on the criminal bench at the time of the latter's death, but when he learned that two new circuit courts were to be created here by the legislature he dropped out of that race and set his sails for the circuit bench.

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February 22, 1907


It Was Said Last Night That He Was
Improving Steadily.
Judge J. W. Wofford of the criminal court, who has been severely ill for the last two weeks, had a sinking spell yesterday morning that was serious enough to alarm his family and friends. Clarence Wofford, his son, who is stenographer of the criminal court, was sent for in a hurry and court was adjourned. Judge B. J. Casteel, of St. Joseph, who has been sitting in Judge Wofford's place during the latter's illness, dismissed court till Monday morning, after a short eulogy on the sick jurist.
Judge Wofford rallied by noon, however, and improved a great deal during the afternoon and more during the evening. His physician, Dr. J. V. Kinyoun, said late last evening:
"Judge Wofford is very much better and has every symptom at present of improving steadily."
Judge Wofford is 69 years old. For a good many years he has suffered with stomach trouble and during the last few months has suffered greatly with acute indigestion. He is sensitive about his condition, and often insisted on holding court when his friends in the court room thought they could see that he was suffering. He "pooh-poohed" any reference to his illness and insisted that he was very well indeed, or that he was at most having a slight attack of indigestion that would soon be over.
Judge Wofford has served on the criminal court bench here for about fifteen years. He was re-elected two years ago for another term of six years. He lives at 1012 Vine street.

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January 30, 1907


Boy Who Disturbed Lone Jack
Worshipers Lectured by Judge

Fred King, 20 years old, stood before Judge Wofford in the criminal court yesterday, charged with disturbing religious services at Lone Jack, his home, last Sunday. Beside him stood the minister of the Baptist church, who had accused him. He had laughed and giggled and scratched a parlor match on the back of another boy's coat.

"Do you think it is smart to disturb religious meetings?" asked Judge Wofford.

"No, sir," said the young man, hanging his head.

"Then why did you do it?"

"I guess I just thought it would be funny."

"Well do you think so now?"

"No, sir."

"You just want to be smart?"

No reply.

"Maybe you thought the girls would think you were smart."

No reply.

"Did you take on e of them home?"

"Yes, sir."

"Did she think it was smart and funny?"

"No, sir."

"Of course she didn't if she was a good, well behaved girl and I have no doubt she was. Girls big enough to "go" with young men your age don't do things like that. They know better. But you don't look like a very bad boy."

"Judge," said the preacher, who was accusing the boy, "I never heard but what this young man was a good boy, only this. He's all right. Maybe this will be a lesson to him."

"Well," said Judge Wofford, "I'll take the risk this time. You take him home and let me know if he ever does it again."

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