The courtroom is crowded to the last seat. The dim light of a sultry and overcast summer day filters through the high windows. The roar of the elevator periodically drowns out every other sound, and if the elevator is silent the hum of waiting humanity rises with a tide-like swell till the judge’s gavel makes it ebb and become silent. One after the other, in a never-ending procession, the accusers and the accused, the defender and the defendants appear before “the woman magistrate who unwearied sits through long hours, listening, deciding, judging.
Her voice, low, yet clear and distinct, calms those who become excited in the attempt to present their side of the case. “May it please your Honor,” shouts an agitated lawyer, and he hears the gently rebuking answer: “This is a simple matter, counsellor, do not let us make it more difficult.”
Two litigants quarrel about a ten-dollar check. The one man does not deny that he owes the money, yet he pleads not guilty because he first wants to get the advice of a lawyer. “Pay your debt instead of paying the lawyer,” advises the judge. “Think it over till Thursday and you’ll see that this is the better way.”
A middle-aged woman, stout, rather stupid looking and clearly unhappy, yet not without traces of former attractiveness, is brought in. Intoxication. She pleads guilty and as she is a second offender she seems to expect a strict sentence. But the judge calls a probation officer and makes her talk to this bewildered and forlorn creature, and it is brought out that she is lonely and without any family ties, without any mental resources to endure this emotional solitude, and that, being at a critical age, she is subject to fits of depression which she tries to drown in liquor. The judge admonishes her kindly: “Drink does not really help. Try to overcome these moods. Sentence suspended.” And glowing with gratitude and good resolutions the woman leaves this court.
Now a labor dispute. The lawyer of the employer shouts at the accused workingmen the taunt that they are communists. The judge’s gavel interrupts his tirade. “This court,” he is told, ” is not interested in the political opinions of anyone. What we care to know is, are these men law abiding or law breakers? The democratic principle guarantees each man freedom of thought and it is by this principle we abide.” And the lawyer is shamed into silence.
Thus it goes for hours and hours. Human frailty, human passion, human weaknessâ€”all these problems arise, and to each case Magistrate Anna Moskowitz Kross, sitting on the bench, responds with a kind of sublimated common sense, perhaps the most precious contribution a woman judge can make in administering the law. That such sublimated comcon sense can only flower in the soil of a rich human sympathy need not be pointed out.
SENSE OF HUMOR
If one for a moment forgets the judge and looks merely at the woman, one sees someone who, without being beautiful, possesses a distinct charm and a definite attraction. Soft brown hair with a natural wave curls over a finely modeled forehead. The dark eyes are alight with intelligence and often soften with pity, the beautifully curved mouth bespeaks a delightful sense of humor.
Magistrate Kross, a graduate of New York University Law School, to which she went on a scholarship after having completed her course in the New York Training School for Teachers, has already done splendid legal work in various capacities and can look forward to a brilliant career. She is married to the well known surgeon Dr. Isidor Kross, and is the mother of two little girls, respectively six and five years old. Deeply interested in social legislation, a member of the Federation of Woman’s Clubs and of Hadassah, her work on the bench as well as all her other activities have one common aim: Social progress, social justice and a world in which each one consciously accepts his civic responsibilities and effectively discharges them.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.