Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The way we were....Tempers flare in Judge Blanton's courtroom in 1917

Dedication of the Dade County courthouse, July 28, 1914.

August 21, 1917: Summer in Miami and temperatures are hovering in the mid-eighties.

Inside the new Dade County Courthouse, Judge W.F. Blanton is hearing the cases of six "indignant" soda fountain owners charged with failing to wash and properly sterilize drinking glasses.

And even though it's still early morning, in Blanton's courtroom, tempers are nearing the boiling point.

The Miami Daily Metropolis reports the first case is that of W.A. Cox, who has been summoned to court because a health inspector saw him reuse his glasses after rinsing them in cold water.

Judge Blanton fines Cox $15. He stalks out of the courtroom, but not before threatening to kick the health inspector out of his business if he shows up again. Not to be outdone, the health inspector "promptly had a warrant sworn out for his arrest on the charge of using threatening language," the Metropolis reported.

Next up is the case of a fountain manager who's also been dragged into court for not washing glasses. He says his plumbing was out of order. He's fined $15 and protests that he's being persecuted.

Next, the judge hears the case of J.K. Fink who manages the fountain at a cigar store. The inspector says the water used to wash the glasses at the store's soda fountain wasn't hot enough to kill germs.

Fink argues that if the water was as hot as the ordinance demanded, he "would not have a glass left in the store, because the hot water would crack them all."

The judge doesn't buy his excuse. He's also fined $15.

Also in Judge Blanton's court that morning was a Miami Beach "speed cop" who had been arrested the day before for speeding in Miami.

He tells the judge he didn't know how fast he was going because he wasn't looking at his speedometer; but then says there was no way he could have been going 60 miles an hour as the arresting officer claimed.

Blanton fines him $10.

As he leaves the courtroom, the Beach cop reminds the judge that Miami Beach also has a speed limit.

And, according to the Metropolis, he tells the judge he'd better watch his speedometer if he ever visits Miami Beach.

Apparently, rowdy courtroom behavior was the norm in Miami in the early part of the century.

A few years later, in August 1922, the Metropolis reported that two attorneys arguing over a contested will in Judge Blanton's courtroom, threatened "to go out on the courthouse lawn and fight it out with their fists."

"You and I, will go on the outside and settle this argument, if you want to," declared one of the battling barristers.

Judge Blanton quickly overruled that motion with a stern glance, according to the Metropolis. 

Miami Daily Metropolis, Aug. 21, 1917.

Aug. 21, 1917.

Aug. 21, 1917.

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