Galesburg Register-Mail from Galesburg, Illinois on June 19, 1973 · Page 17
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Galesburg Register-Mail from Galesburg, Illinois · Page 17

Galesburg, Illinois
Issue Date:
Tuesday, June 19, 1973
Page 17
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John J. Sirica Challenge of Courage Judge Sirica Kept Pushing To Expose Watergate Case By IRA BERKOW NEA Senior Editor WASHINGTON - The morning of Friday, March 23,1973, was clear but cool. Not unusual for an early spring day here. The cherry blossoms were endeavoring to make their nnual comeback. Otherwise, it was a typical Washington day. At 10 a. m., one of the most explosive moments in American history would occur. Second in a Scries The second-floor court room of the United States District Court House was uncommonly packed, and under unusually large and stern guard. Spectators who jammed the court rooms were required to pass through metal detector. Chief Judge John J6seph Sirica appeared at 10 sharp. He looked in his black robes as severe as his reputation. He is supposed to throw the book at the convicted. Not today. He had delayed sentencing on James McCord, one of the conspirators in the Watergate burglary. McCord had presented him with a letter he, McCord, had written to the court. Judge Sirica had received the letter on Wednesday in his chambers, before a stenographer and a few other witnesses. He found it one of the most remarkable of documents. He sealed it, and said he would read it aloud on Friday. JUDGE SIRICA IS 69ycars old, but his dark wavy hair (Washington rumor has it that he dyes his hair) make's him look younger. His eyebrows are heavy, lips are thin and his nose seems a bit flattened, perhaps from his days as an amateur boxer. He now read the letter smoothly unemotionally. "Certain questions have been posted to me from your honor through the probation officer, dealing with details of the case, motivations, intent, mitigating circumstances ..." The letter went on to link, for the first time, the White House and Watergate. The impact in the court was startling. The spectators had come to hear something special, but they were not sure what. Even McCord's lawyers did not know about the contents of the letter that was the initial insight to the alleged network of obstruction of justice by the Nixon administration. This letter, induced by Judge Sirica's actions during the course of.the conspiracy trial, may be the document that will result in the present administration's being cleansed, if not in fact toppled. Columnist Mary McGrory said that Judge Sirica is "the man whom we owe our liberty, if we still have any." SEN, SAM ERVIN said thai Judge Sirica "showed great) courage and great wisdom, especially when It would have been easier for him to have drifted with the tide." Through the several months of the trial Judge Sirica sat witii growing outrage as ho listened to the seven defendants give their bland testimony. He was certain there was more than this being just "a third-rate burglary," as the White House contended. lie gave the six besides McCord stiff sentences. Yet in an unusual move, Judge Sirica delayed sentencing of McCord, who admitted that he feared a severe sentence, possibly 20 years, if he did not cooperate fully. Soma critics said that Judge Sirica's action actually placed him in the role of prosecutor. There was concern that the means in which the letter was obtained would not hold up in the appellate court. "YOU WOULD HAVE to be a nincompoop to play no role in this," Judge Sirica had said from the bench. And more recently, in an exclusive interview in his chambers, the judge added, "f think when a judge sees that facts are not being developed, he has a duty to prosecutor and defendant to get the full picture, regardless of whom it helps or hurts. "I did only what I thought was right. By God, nobody can criticize you for that." Was he concerned about a possible reversal by an appellate court? "If a judge has one eye on what an appellate court might do then he should get off I he bendi," Jus said. "1 never think about it. I've been reversed several limes, and I've buan sustained many, many times." Because of his independent ways, the judge has been, as one writer put it, "rigorously above political considerations." Which meant that he couldn't be bought, 'but also that he would not necessarily be a prime candidate for promotion, either. John Sirica has come a long way to be placed in so grand a position as a national hero. "I'VE KNOWN POVERTY," he says of his childhood in Waterbury, Conn., and Jacksonville, Fla. He is the son of Italian immigrant parents. His father was a barber, "and I'm very proud of the fact he was an honest man." Judge Sirica recalls that he and his family slept in the back of a grocery store in which his mother worked. "She kept us clean and she got us to school," he says. . Through school, he greased automobiles and waited on tables. He worked as an athletic director for the Knights of Columbus in Washington to pay his way through law school. "I guess I always wanted to be a trial lawyer, but at one time I also considered being a boxer. I weighed 150 pounds. But I found that boxing was too rough a way to make a dollar,". Ho spent two years in law school and was-admitted to the bar. (That was all the schooling required for lawyers in the early 1920s, which may account for some saying his reputation for honesty is greater than , his reputation for brilliance. HE BEGAN LEGAL WORK in private practice. He met William E. Ixiahy, a little- known Washington lawyer who the judge calls "my idol." Leahy's large portrait hangs in Judge Sirica's chambers. "I learned from him how to get the jury nodding in your favor, how to anticipate their questions, to let them know you aren't out to hoodwink them and the importance of being a principled man of the law," said Sirica. ' Judge Sirica was appointed to the bench by President Eisenhower, in 1957. He had campaigned for the Republican ticket since Landon in 1936. In fact, he had made speeches in 1952 and 1956 in support of Richard Nixon, the Republican vice presidential candidate. BUT PARTISANSHIP NEVER entered his courtroom, if he could help it. Now, he has caused havoc for the Republicans. Another time he nearly threw the former secretary of the Interior, Stewart Udall, a Democratic appointee, into jail for contempt. Yet Judge Sirica not only admires toughness, but gentleness, too. One of his best friends today Is Jack Dcmpsey, the former heavyweight boxing champion, whom ho met while on bond-selling tours during World War II. Judge Sirica also admires Vice President Spiro Agnew. "He has not forgotten his heritage, where he came from," said the judge. "He once happened to join me at a naturalization proceedings I handled. I liked what he said. It was similar to what I usually loll people on this occasion. Naturalization proceedings are one of the things I enjoy most about being a judge. "I tell folks that now you arc as much an American as the President of the United States. It is something to be proud of, to be a citizen of this great country. Now, when people ask what you are, don't say, 'Italian,' or 'Chinese,' say 'I am an American.' " He is sentimental enough to have framed, autographed picture of both Agnew and Nixon at home in his den, which he calls "my hall of memories." YET HE IS NOT TAKEN by lofty stature, lie says he believes that "men generally are wise and good. "The most important lesson for me in this regard was gaining confidence in the jury system. I think it is the greatest system ever devised by man. In the great majority of cases I've admired the way juries, composed of everyone from taxi drivers to secretaries to economists, can assimilate facts and arrive at a fair verdict. "I've been very impressed by that. I've found that the common man is really un uncommon man." (NEXT: "The Good Dame") Brazil Picks Ex-General As President BRASILIA, BfMlt (tiPl) Tho military leadership Monday chose Krtma (kM t a retired foUf*8ter general arid 1 head of the government oil fnonop&ly, a* thfl next .president otf BraM*-where elections have been forbidden slfico 1964, deiscl, 64, wilt take ovef as leader of Latin America's largest nation from Emilia Qtotml&m Medici, who has headed the military govern* mcnt since 1969. Medici's four- Galesbum Register-Mail, Gaiesburg, III, Tuesday, June 1 9, If 73 If year term expires In 1974 and he is scheduled to step down March 18, There has not been A prudential election in Brazil since the military itoppled the civilian government of Joao Goutert In a 1964 revolution, The formal election of Geiflel will take place in an electoral college, but this is little more than a formality since the ruling party controls a vast majority of the votes. Gelsel wiill be the fourth president to take office since the revolution. Since then, Brazil Mas achieved one of the highest economic growth rates in the world and slowed Its previously skyrocketing rate Of inflation, Medici met with Ms cabinet Mid members of the pro- government party Monday before announcing (that Geisel had been selected for the job. Medici called Geisel "the candidate who...can guarantee that the nation will continue, in a climate of social and political tranquility, to work toward progress, well - being and happiness." Geisel retired from the military In 1969 after 44 years of service and became president of Petrobras, the nation's oil monopoly, Under Brazilian law, he must resign the post by July IB to be eligible for the presidency. Penneys summer sales take care of your family almost as well as you do. 15% off men's underwear. Sale 3" 2 75 Reg. 3 for 3.25. Men's polyester/cotton t-shirts, athletic shirts or briefs. Something they never have enough'of. White In shirt sizes 36-46, briefs 30-44. Reg. 3 for 3.25. Cotton/polyester boxer shorts for men, cut for comfort and Pen Prest for no wrinkles. Never stretch or lose their shape.' Prints In sizes 30-42. Sale prices effective thru Saturday. Save 15%.Towel ensembles. Reg. 2.00. All sheared cotton terry. 'Terri Suede' is solid color with a dobby border and thick looped pile for superior absorbency. 'Pansy Parade' has a delicate flowery print that.^feSJ^K" will enhance ' ' room decor, is a woven tern with thick looped pile $ for superior absorbency. j * i« >\ V> Hand towel reg. 1.15, j V''"' * »•« ,<0 j Sale 97c. Wash cloth reg. 70c Sale 55c MOONLIGHT MADNESS STORE HOURS Open Wed. 9-5 Closed 5-6 Open 6-9 All Price Break Items On Sale Wednesday Night and Sale Prices Effective thru Saturday. GIRL'S 100% POLYESTER KNIT SHORTS Sizes 4 to 14 Elastic Waist While 120 Pr. Last GIRL'S SLEEVELESS NYLON TOPS Sizes 4-14 Penn Prest 60 Only Sale 1 09 Famous Toddletime® disposable diapers. reg. 1.29 Newborn 30's .. npw 1,09 reg. 1.49 Daytime 30's now 1.28 reg. 790Ovemites 12's now 67£ reg. 1.04 Toddler 12's now 88$ Moonlight Madness Extra Store Hours OPEN 6-9 Wed. Night BOY'S ELEPHANT BELL JEANS 2 99 V Reg. - Slim V Penn Prest WOM. JEANS 3 50 V Sizes 5-13 V Colors DOUBLE KNITS and POLY CREPE MATERIAL Orig. 2.99-3.99 99 NOW Yd. QUILTED SATEEN MATERIAL NOW Orig. 3.98 $ 3 Yd. ARNEL JERSEY MATERIAL Orig. 2.29 NOW i 50 Yd. Decorator SHEETS Orig. 2.99 $ NOW 2 V 31 Only, Twin Size Decorator SHEETS Orig. 3.99 NOW $3 V 58 Only, Full Size DISCONTINUED BATH TOWELS . Orig. 78c.88cl.34 NOW V 183 Only WASH CLOTH Orig. 31c to 44f NOW 20c 6-9 jtsPenney 6-9 WEDNESDAY NIGHT We know what you're looting for. WEDNESDAY NIGHT

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