David Terry trail verdict

A large number of witnesses had been examined in the vigilante’s case against David Terry and it took until July 19th, more than three weeks after the trial started, until the testimony closed. Then, on July 21, after the testimony was all in, rumors of a writ of habeas corpus for Terry surfaced and preparations were made to secrete him, but the rumors proved false and the trial proceeded to a close. The next day, Tuesday July 22nd, Terry pled his own case while Smiley spoke for the prosecution. Terry was then found guilty of the first charge of resisting by violence officers of the Committee of Vigilance in the discharge of their duties and guilty of an attack on a citizen of San Francisco named Purdy. The committee found him not guilty of an attack on a man from Stockton and several other charges had been dropped.

Justice Terry stabs Sterling Hopkins

Justice Terry stabs Sterling Hopkins

There was, however, much difficulty in deciding the charge of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill Sterling A. Hopkins. The session where the first charges were decided had lasted nine hours, starting on that Tuesday. The committee adjourned and met again the next day where, after another difficult session, they finally arrived at a verdict of guilty of assault on Hopkins. On Thursday evening it was reported that, as David S. Terry had been convicted after a full, fair and impartial trial before the Committee of Vigilance, and since the usual punishments in their power to inflict were not applicable in this case, it therefore should be the decision of the committee that Terry would be discharged from custody, and that in the opinion of the committee the interests of the state demanded that he resign his position as judge of the Supreme Court immediately. This sentence should be read to him and he should be discharged after its ratification by the board of delegates.


  1. bob austin says

    Understand that Judge Terry was a violent man, occasionally instructing his bodyguards to commit acts of violence upon others, including shooting them. Ironically that he was killed by another judges bodyguard when he slapped the
    succeeding judge across the chops in a French Camp restaurant.Almost Shakespearean

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