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Bigotry No Bar to Jury Duty, Appellate Court Decides

November 28, 1927
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Franklin Ford, of Station Whap, Reinstated on Jury

The decision of Supreme Court Justice Ford, which upheld the removal of Franklin Ford, manager of Radio Station WHAP, from the jury list because of his anti-Catholic and anti-Jewish utterances over the radio, was reversed by the Appellate Division yesterday. Mr. Ford’s name was taken off the jury list by Commissioner of Jurors Frederick O’Bryne at the request of Judge Otto A. Rosalsky.

As section 15 of the Civil Rights Law provides that no citizen shall be disqualified on account of creed, the opinion stated, the only possible basis for Mr. Ford’s debarment was that he was not intelligent.

“The facts set forth in the answer of the Commissioner of Jurors made out prima facie evidence that Mr. Ford was a man of violent religious prejudices,” the opinion held.

“The question for us is whether this justified the Commissioner in finding him not intelligent. The Court should be astute to preserve the integrity of this portion of the Civil Rights Law and should not approve a definition of ‘intelligence’ which would exclude a man from jury service by reason of his beliefs.

” ‘Intelligence’ in the sense used in the judiciary law means ‘possessed of ordinary information and reasoning capacity.’

“A man cannot be removed from the jury list merely because of bigotry that runs counter to the fundamentals of religious toleration and Freedom-American liberty extends the protection of the law even to those who are false to its principles.”

Presiding Justice Dowling and Justices McAvoy, O’Malley, Finch and Proskauer passed on the case. They are, respectively, three Catholics, an Episcopalian and a Jew.

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