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Court Denies Ford’s Application Made in Bernstein Libel Suit

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Judge Augustus Hand of the U. S. District Court handed down a decision in the libel suit of Herman Bernstein against Henry Ford, in which he denies the application of Ford for an open commission to examine a number of Russian monarchists and former officers in Paris, Berlin, Belgard and other cities.

Mr. Ford’s application was based on the claim that he requires this evidence in order to justify certain of the statements contained in “The Dearborn Independent.” Mr. Bernstein’s opposition was, among other things, on the ground that no such issue is legitimately involved in the case and that this is part of an effort of Mr. Ford’s to force Mr. Bernstein to travel all over the world and to drown him out of court by imposing upon him the prohibitive expense that would be involved in having counsel travel all over the world in order to cross-examine these witnesses.

In his affidavit, Mr. Bernstein said:

“Not content with the mass of preliminary motions heretofore made and determined herein, which I respectfully submit have had the sole object of delaying the trial of this action, the defendant Ford has now discovered a new means of embarrassing me and of further delaying the trail. This latest attempt is what I have no hesitancy in characterizing as a European and Balkan junket. It stands to reason that with the defendant’s unlimited means as against my extremely modest circumstances, innumerable methods can be devised having at least a semblance of judicial sanction for exerting pressure through the medium of untold wealth of defeating the ends of justice.

“Strangely enough, the present application for a sort of roving commission throughout Europe and the Balkans, while not seasonably made insofar as the antiquity of the action is concerned, is seasonably made insofar as the time of the year is concerned.

“Although the action was instituted in August of 1923 on libelous articles bearing date of August, 1921, Mr. Ford professed a desire five years after the articles were published to take testimony in Europe and the Balkans.

“The reasons given in the affidavit in support of this action on their face show a total want of good faith, which is amplified by the request that the testimony be taken orally rather than by the customary method of written interrogatories.”

Among the witnesses that Henry Ford wanted to examine abroad are the following:

Father Vladimir Vostokov; General Loukomsky; V. G. Orlov; General Klimovitch; A. P. Krivoshein; G. V. Glinka; A. Boudet; Igor Krivoshein; Boris Ivanitsky; Mr. Le Pelletier and three or four other witnesses unnamed.

In his opinion denying the application Judge Hand said:

“This is a motion of the plaintiff to take testimony by an open commission in Europe. The purpose alleged is to adduce evidence in support of Defendants’ plea of justification. He seeks to show that certain minutes of a so-called Russian ‘Committee for Saving the Fatherland’ were false and fabricated. But the plaintiff never charged the defendant with publishing statements that the plaintiff had reprinted false documents. He, on the contrary, annexes to his complaint Exhibit A, in which ‘The Dearborn Independent’ says:

“The Dearborn Independent does not question a single document Mr. Bernstein offers.’ The periodical adds: ‘The documents tell the truth of what the Russians want.’ … I do not, however, regard this evidence as playing such a vital part in this litigation as to justify the great expense of an open commission.”

Mr. Bernstein is represented by Samuel Untermyer and Laurence A. Steinhardt, of Guggenheimer, Untermyer & Marshall.

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