« AnteriorContinuar »
Long Branch, N. J., July 31, 1883. Sir: I have received your bill dated July 30th, 1883. By referring to the books of the Department, I find that you have received $27,627 within one year for services rendered. "I submit to you that your charges are higher than ought to be presented. I have said, and frequently written, to all of the counsel in this star-route case that such great cases should not be made mere opportunities of gain; they are occasions of honor and distinction. Furthermore, it becomes all of the counsel to remember that their charges in these cases have beeu made the subject of criticism.
I will have to consider the subject before I direct the payment of this bill. I think it is too high. I think the amount for one year's services, $27,627, is too much; and upon reflection you will say so yourself. I have referred the matter to Mr. Cameron, and will advise with him on the subject when I return to Washington. Very respectfully,
BENJAMIN HARRIS BREWSTER,
Attorney-General. W. W. KER, Esq.,
Special Assistant United States Attorney, fc., Washington, D C .
Hartford, Conn., July 7, 1883. SIR: You favor of the 6th instant, asking for a written account of an interview had with General Garfield upon the subject of Mr. Cook's appointment as attorney in the star-route cases, is at hand.
I have a strong aversion to writing about parties with whom I was once associated, but in the expectation that this communication will be treated as confidential, I will give an outline of the facts.
..A. M. Gibson was first employed at my earnest solicitation. After a time, through his efforts, Mr. Cook was also engaged. Gibson wrote me several letters (perhaps from New York) urging me to see the Postmaster and Attorney-General, and to press his retention. Heargued that Cook was an able criminal lawyer, and, further, that from his intimate knowledge of certain sinister aspects of the courts in Washington, he could prevent the defendants from corrupting the juries.
My impression was that Mr. MacVeagh yielded somewhat passively in the matter to the importunities of Gibson.
After the employment of Mr. Cook was publicly announced I received a summons to the White House. President Garfield, in much apparent trouble, asked if I could explain how a lawyer of Cook's bad reputation came to be engaged in the case. I attempted to justify the selection on the ground that the Government wonld be obliged to procure portions of its evidence from the low and criminal classes, and that Mr. Cook's training and associations peculiarly fitted him to perform that part of the work. I also explained that post-office inspectors, in the performance of their duties, came down upon offenders from the outside, and that they lacked the peculiar experience which qualify one to unearth the doings of criminals in combination, or as an organized class.
Through some one Mr. Cook learned of the dissatisfaction of the President, and wrote bim a letter in self-justification. This communication may perhaps still exist among the papers of Mr. Garfield.
I was present when Mr. Cook was first introduced to President Garfield. It was on the Tuesday or Wednesday evening before the assassination. He came by appointment to the Arlington Hotel, whence Postmaster-General James and I went with him to the White House.
The interview may have lasted half an hour. Mr. Cook plead earnestly that Sepator Dorsey might be saved from prosecution on the ground of his great services to the Republican party. I remember that I modestly argued in reply that partisan services should not be allowed to condone crimes. The President listened patiently, but made no response to the plea tor Mr. Dorsey.
At the same interview Mr. Cook further said that an agent of Thomas J. Brady had already attempted to corrupt him, and that as a measure of self-protection he had secreted a detective under the sofa in his office to be a witness to the conversation. This extraordinary avowal left a very unpleasant impression on my mind, as oply a few days before I had defended the employment of Mr. Cook to the President, which I could not have done had I known that such was his method of conducting business.
The memory of Mr. Cook must be at fault respecting confidential disclosures from
President Garfield to himself, as their personal acquaintance began only two or three days before the assassination. Very respectfully,
P. H. WOODWARD,
Post-Office Inspector. The Hon. BENJAMIN HARRIS BREWSTER,
(Office of United States Attorney, District of Columbia.]
WASHINGTON, D. C., June 1, 1881. DEAR SIR: Referring to the interview with you this morning concerning the prosecution of certain persons charged with being concerned in frauds on the United States in connection with what is known as the star-route investigations, I desire to say that the long delay in the business of the criminal court of the District, occasioned by not having a marshal, has resulted in overcrowding my office with the work specially belonging to the criminal business of this District, and both myself and all my assistants are, owing to the near adjournment of the court, overburdened with work, among the cases, as I explained to you this morning, being many of very grave importance.
In view of the fact that these star-route cases are more of a national than a local character, and that according to report they involve a large number of persons, and will array in their defense, should indictments be found, many of the ablest lawyers in the profession, both in this city and elsewhere, and owing to the fact that the public interest in them is very intense, I do not feel, that, under all these circumstances, the whole responsibility of their management should be thrown upon me. I am well aware that your own duties will prevent your giving personal attention to the necessary details upon which successful prosecution must depend. I therefore respectfully request that, if consistent with your idea of the public interest, you designate some lawyer as special counsel for the Government in these cases, who shall have the management and control of them, and that the appointment be made at as early a day as possible, in order that the person selected may be able to prepare any indictments that may be presented.
It is not necessary to say that whoever you may appoint will have my active and earbest support and assistance. Very respectfully,
GEORGE B. CORKHILL,
United States Attorney, District of Columbia. Hon. WAYNE MACVEAGH,
Attorney-General U, S., Washington, D. C.
Washington, D. C., April 26, 1881. SIR: Having been instructed by you to make a thorough investigation into the recent operations of the star-route service, I have already entered upon the work, and find the labor so vast that I ought to have an assistant, to be supplied by the Department of Justice. He should possess both legal knowledge and skill as an investigator.
Mr. A. M. Gibson, of this city, has already rendered me great assistance voluntarily. He has in various ways acquired no small degree of familiarity with the methods and practices to be inquired into, and has placed his information freely at my disposal. If I may be permitted to express a preference, I think his selection would prove judicious. I mention his name in this connection to President Garfield, and he seemed rather acquiescent, though he made no decided reply. Very respectfully,
P. H. WOODWARD,
Inspector. Hon. THOMAS L. JAMES,
Postmaster-General. (Indorsed :) Respectfully referred to the Attorney-General, with my earnest approval.-T. L. James, Postmaster-General.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE,
Washington, October 22, 1991. A. M. GIBSON, Esq.:
MY DEAR SIR: I do not know how it happened that no written statement was sent you of your appointment at the request of Mr. Woodward, indorsed by the Postmaster-General, to assist in the investigation and prosecution of the star-route cases.
I certainly supposed it had been done at the date of their request, April 22, 1001, and I send you this note to certify that you were accordingly employed in these matters at that date. Yours, very truly,
WASHINGTON, D. C., January 16, 1882, SIR: I respectfully submit the inclosed bill for services rendered in the investigation and prosecution of the star-route cases.
As I have had no compensation since my employment on April 22, 1881, I trust you will cause an early disposition to be made of my case. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
A. M. GIBSON. Hon, BENJAMIN HARRIS BREWSTER,
WASHINGTON, D. C., January 1, 1882. The United States to A. M. Gibson, assistant attorney, Dr. To services rendered from April 22, 1881, to date, in the investigation and prosecution of the star-route cases.....
.... $7,500 (
WASHINGTON, January 28, 1882. SIR: I desire to withdraw the bill I submitted a fortnight since and substitute the inclose. I do this at the suggestion of the late Attorney-General MacVeagh, who says he will cordially approve my bill for $5,000. Very respectfully,
A. M. GIBSON. To Hon. BENJAMIN HARRIS BREWSTER,
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE,
Washington, February 2, 1882. MY DEAR COLONEL BLISS:
Now, when Mr. Gibson's account is to be paid, I wish to talk with you about his further retention and what it will be proper to detail him to do. Pray see me about that before you leave for the week. Very respectfully,
BENJAMIN HARRIS BREWSTER.
CHICAGO, ILL., March 18, 1822. Hon. BENJAMIN HARRIS BREWSTER, Washington :
Will call on you Tuesday morning. I, in mean time, will accept no retainer against the Goveryment.
R. T. MERRICK.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE,
Washington, D. C., March 28, 1882. DEAR SIR: After our frequent conference upon the subject of retaining you to act on behalf of the Governmene in the prosecution of the star-route cases, I have concluded to invite you by this formal letter to accept the position in those cases which was occupied by me, and relinquished when I was advanced to my present position. As I have before said to you, it is my intention to continue in the cases, and be present in court, and take such active part as my other duties would permit me to do. I have, however, some serious misgivings as to my being able to be present at all times during the conduct of those cases in court. In view of that, Mr. Bliss will need the aid of some experienced colleague. It would be unfair to him to cast the whole burden of the cases upon him when I would be obliged to be absent.
He and I have conferred together upon the subject. As an act of courtesy and duty to him, I have submitted the whole subject to his consideration, and he has cordially assented to the proposed invitation that I now convey to you by this letter.
Please therefore advise me by your earliest opportunity, in a formal way, if you will accept the appointment I now tender you, so that I may direct the proper evi. dence of authority to be furnished you, so that you may forth with unite with Mr. Bliss in the professional performance of all the duties that are necessary to secure the prompt and energetic trial of these cases. I am, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,
BENJAMIN HARRIS BREWSTER,
Attorney-General. RICHARD T. MERRICK, Esq.,
Tashington, D. C.
(Merrick & Morris, counsellors, No. 1306 F street.)
WASHINGTON, D. C., March 29, 1882. DEAR SIR: Your favor of yesterday was received this morning. Since our first interview on the subject of my participation in the star-route cases as counsel for the Government, I have been seriously considering whether I could, in justice to other professional engagements, assume an undertaking which will be so exacting, demand so much of my time, and require so much labor. To reach a conclusion satisfactory to myself, it became necessary that I should look somewhat into the cases, and but for this I would certainly have given an earlier reply to the flattering suggestion you made to me some days since.
I have concluded to accept the position you propose that I shall occupy in the cases, as successor to that vacated by you on your appointment to the office of AttorneyGeneral, and will, in conjunction with Mr. Bliss, and relying upon you for such assistance as your official duties may give you opportunity to render, endeavor to secure for the cases speedy trial and a thorough investigation. I am, sir, with great respect, your obedient servant,
R. T. MERRICK. Hon. BENJAMIN HARRIS BREWSTER,
Attorney-General of the United States.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE,
Washington, October 30, 1883. MY DEAR SIR: When we first began to treat with each other upon the subject of your charges in the star-route case, shortly after you rendered your first or second account, you said to me-as I would have supposed and believed you would-that you would not embarrass me in any way; that you did not wish me to be disturbed upon the quantum meruit of your account; that you would rather reduce than advance upon your charges, if, in my judgment, they were inexpedient. Thus far you have been paid the bills as you presented them.
Your last bill, wben it was sent to me, together with the account of Mr. Ker, were both laid aside for reflection before I would undertake to act upon them, and I advised you so, either by letter or directly, or by what was stated to you by Mr. Cameron by my orders. I advised Mr. Ker so directly. I do not propose now to consider the subject of the amount; that must be reserved for future action, as it is not a pleasant thing to criticize the charges of a professional gentleman retained by the Department, and I will not anticipate that disagreeable necessity now. But it is now my purpose to request you to render a final account for the services in the case of the United
States against John W. Dorsey and others, which ended June 14, 1883. This suggestion is grounded upon the fact that the trial was a unit in itself, and ended during the last fiscal year, and that no expenses connected with it could be paid out of the appropriation of the succeeding fiscal year. Counsel were continuously employed to that time. Since then their services have been irregular. I request this because the First Comptroller of the Treasury has ruled that counsel in the star-route and other cases cannot be paid out of the present appropriation for services in the past fiscal year.
Please, then, therefore, to furnish me with the account as I here request it. Application will then be made to Congress for an appropriation to make up this deficiency, and to pay you, and that is the object of this communication. Very respectfully,
BENJAMIN HARRIS BREWSTER,
Attorney-General. RICHARD T. MERRICK, Esq.,
Special Assistant Attorney-General for Star route Cases, Washington, D. C.
WASHINGTON, D. C., November 14, 1883. DEAR SIR: On the 30th ultimo I had the houor of a consultation with you on the subject of one of the pending star-route cases, when it was determined that I should visit New York City on the following day on business connected with that case.
Your favor of the date above referred to was received on the 31st ultimo, a few hours before I left for New York. I was, as you are aware, detained in that city for several days, and since my return have been engaged at the trial table.
These circumstances must excuse the delay of a formal reply to your favor of the 30th ultimo, and also to your favor of the 10th instant.
The duty with which I am charged by the language of the commission, under which I have the honor of holding the position of special assistant Attorney-General, is “to aid in the prosecution of certain persons charged with being concerned in frauds on the United States in connection with what is known as the star-route investigation.”
There are a large number of cases embraced within this designation, and I regarded them as constituting altogether one professional undertaking, and in the bill referred to in your letter I have so charged for my professional services.
The services for which a charge is made in tbat bill were rendered in the month of July of the present fiscal year, as well as during the months of April, May, aud June of the fiscal year ending June 30. They were services rendered not only in the case of the United States against Dorsey, Miner, Peck, and others, on the charge of conspiracy to defrand the United States, but also in the case of the United States against Thomas J. Brady, and the case of the United States against William Pitt Kellogg, in which indictments have been found under section 1782 of the Revised Statutes of the United States.
It would be a difficult undertaking for me to apportion between these respective cases and others, which also received attention within the periods specified, the charge for services rendered generally in the star-route cases, according to the language of the account.
Neither would it be much easier to cut those services into parcels and ascribe one parcel to a period anterior to the present fiscal year and another parcel to a period within the present fiscal year.
I presume no reasonable professional gentleman familiar with the services I have rendered in these cases, and capable of forming a just estimate of professional labor, will question that the amounts I have indicated as properly due in this and other bills, heretofore presented, are considerably less than would be regarded as adequate compensation to counsel in the course of an ordinary litigation between private parties of equal extent and importance.
I am gratified to know that my accounts have uniformally met with your approval, and am especially relieved to learn, from your favor of the 10th instant, that the language used in your favor of the 30th ultimo, which apparently indicated that the bill presented on the 30th of July last might be subject to criticism, will not bear that construction, as you say you have not yet “seen or read that bill."
When I learned from your favor of the 30th ultimo that there was some difficulty in regard to paying that bill, by reason of the charge therein being generally for services rendered in the past as well as in the present fiscal year, and that it was your purpose to appeal to Congress for a special appropriation, I requested to withdraw the account I had filed in your Department, and did withdraw it. My purpose was to have no complications about this matter, and to withdraw the bill altogether rather than suffer any; but in compliance with your request I now return it.