“No, You Didn’t!”

In February of 1902, Anthony Comstock had Mr. & Mrs. Samuel B. Rose arrested for selling obscene pictures in their novelty shop on Broadway. They were tried in the Court of Special Sessions and acquitted. Comstock swore out another complaint and had them rearrested. Their second trial took place in September, and the New York Sun reported:

On cross examination Comstock refused to say whether the pictures in evidence were the same as shown in the first trial. Justice Holbrook advised him to answer and Comstock proceeded to argue the matter. He was interrupted by Justice Holbrook, who said:

“‘We don’t want any argument from you with the Court. You are here as a witness and must answer questions in a respectful manner and not in an offensive tone, as you have been doing.’

“Mr. Comstock attempted to speak, but Justice Holbrook shut him off. The trial was again interrupted when Justice Wyatt declared he had seen one of the pictures at the first trial.

“’No, you didn’t,’ said Comstock.

This angered the Justice, who said: ‘Mr. Comstock, you can’t argue with this Court and I want you to understand that. I for one won’t convict the defendants on the pictures you offer in evidence here.’”

Mr. and Mrs. Rose were once again set free.

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