Vigilantes try David Terry

The turmoil over the arrest of Supreme Court justice David Terry delayed his trial and caused serious troubles for the Committee of Vigilance. James Daws, a prominent member of the committee with a brilliant but somewhat uncultivated intellect described the situation the vigilantes found themselves in by saying, “We started out to hunt coyotes but we’ve got a grizzly bear on our hands and we don’t know what to do with him.” But the committee was equal to the task and as soon as they made up their minds what to do with him the grizzly became less troublesome. However, as the much delayed date for Terry’s trial neared, the guard in committee headquarters was raised to seventy-five men at all times and others were positioned at points around the building where it was thought they might be needed.

Ft. Gunnybags, Vigilance Headquarters

Vigilance Headquarters, Ft. Gunnybags

On Friday morning between ten and eleven in the morning the trial of Terry at last began with the entire executive committee sitting as a jury. Witnesses for the prosecution were heard that day but by Saturday rumors of an attack became so prevalent that guns in the chambers were directed to be put in order for immediate use and a drawbridge was ordered to provide a means of escape from the second floor of the building in case such an attack should occur. Meanwhile negotiations had been going on that would resolve the matter if Terry agreed to resign from the Supreme Court and leave California. But at some point Terry’s wife refused to allow him to admit that he done anything wrong, which he would do by his resignation. Her determined stand put a halt to all negotiations. Now Terry needed to find to other methods to oppose the committee.

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