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Colonial Cases

United States v. Cook, 1872

[assault, religion]


United States v. Cook

United States Consular Court
Source: Japan Weekly Mail, 20 July 1872 [445]




Before Mr. Vice-Consul Mitchell.



   Mr. F. W. Marks did not appear on this occasion for the prisoner.

   Jacob Morris, sworn, stated that on the 5th instant, he went with prisoner to the Synagogue to perform the rites prescribed by the Hebrew faith for the dying, and found the place did not contain the Tables of the Law. He went to Liebermann's and asking him for them; Liebermann said, if he had come like a Jew and not like a Greek, he would talk to him like a gentleman. He then recapitulated the conversation which passed, much as the previous witness had given it. Liebermann, in the course of the row, heaved a chair out of the window, and an ice pitcher. Witness had a little whip, and struck Liebermann with it, saying that "he was a very nice polite gentleman, and he (witness) felt very much obliged to him for his kindness." Liebermann then came out of the door with a spittoon in his hand. Mrs. Liebermann came and pulled him back, saying to witness, "you know very well he is tight on a Friday evening. If you come tomorrow, you shall have the Ten Commandments." Witness left the house saying he didn't want any more prayer; he had been insulted too much.

   To the Court - He walked up to the house with Cook and Goldenberg, and other parties after them. When the chair was thrown out of window, it did not strike him. The ice-pitcher struck Cook, and the water in it partly wetted witness. Complainant leaned out of the window from his sofa, as he threw it. He did not strike Cook with the pitcher in his hand. (On indicating the place, witness pointed to his shoulder.) Cook didn't swear. Liebermann snatched up a spittoon; but did not throw it, and abused all of them. He jumped up on the window-sill when he had the chair raised ready to throw - took no notice if ne stood on one or two feet. Witness only struck him once, and neither saw Cook throw or pick up stones, nor strike or attempt to strike complainant. He would solemnly swear Liebermann had the chair in his hand when he jumped on the window-sill. He did not tell witness to go to Mr. Davis for the keys, nor say the latter had no conversation with Cook about the matter. The latter had been to see him during his time of mourning. He did not see Wilkins take away the chair or spittoon or ice-pitcher from Liebermann. Witness had never been arrested or convicted of any crime, or been sent to prison. He had been twelve years in China and Japan.

   Goldenberg recalled - There was no conversation whatever about the key. It was simply about Ten Commandments.  He heard nothing of a threat of licking Liebermann. He said the chair, although he did not mention it in his evidence the other day. The question was not put to him, and he might have forgotten it. Liebermann jumped on the window-sill when he threw the chair. The pitcher was thrown about 3 feet. He did not remember saying it was thrown about 20 feet. He said it was about 15 to 20 feet from the window to the gate. He did not remember saying that the pitcher was thrown as far as the post office door was from the witness box.

   L. Cook recalled, did not remember seeing the chair. He knew that Liebermann did not throw the chair out of the window. It did not fall between him and Morris. He knew that Liebermann tried to pick something up to throw out. Mr. Morris stood close by the window nearly all the time, witness was 4 or 5 feet from him. If a chair had come out of the window he would probably have seen it, but he was excited. He thought the chair must have come after the ice-pitcher.

   Complainant handed in the following statement:

   I am but imperfectly acquainted with the English language and therefore liable to be misunderstood, will your Honour allow me the privilege of submitting to the Court in writing, the following points in connection with the above case?

   [1st.] - That I could have called further evidence to prove the assault on me by Mr. Cook, had I thought it necessary.

   [2nd.] - That the evidence of the man Goldenberg ought to be received with caution, he bring one of the parties who came with Cook to premises, with the intention of assaulting me, he, witness also states, I jumped upon a window -sill to throw a pitcher at Cook, but it is impossible for any man to do so, for the window-sill is 3 feet from the floor and only 3 feet high; it would therefore be impossible for any one over 3 feet in height to stand upon the window-sill.

   [3rd.] - The witness Morris also came with Cook to my premises and also assaulted me, his evidence ought therefore also to be received with caution.

   [4th.] - The witness Rappoport admits that he knew but little or nothing, except what he has heard, of the circumstances of the case.

   [5th.] - That it is palpable from the evidence that the three persons Cook, Morris and Goldenberg came to my premises with the settled determination of assaulting me, for how else came the riding whip in the hands of the man Morris. It is not usual for a Jew to go to the Synagogue to pray, armed with a riding whip.

   [6th.] - That it is against the Hebrew law for any Jew, under any circumstances, to pray for a sick person on Friday (the day of the assault). The statement of all the witnesses in this respect must be untrue.

   His Honour in delivering judgment said - I don't know what to think of this case, there are so many complications in it, and the wilful and corrupt perjury that must have been committed in the case is about the worst that I have ever known or heard of.

   In this matter, with regard to the chair, Cook's evidence that day does not say anything about it, and Goldenberg did not think it of sufficient importance to mention it. Morris states that the chair was picked up by Liebermann, who jumped on to the window-sill, and threw it out; then jumped down, picked up the pitcher, threw it out at Cook and struck him on the arm. Goldenberg corroborates that though his testimony lacks a few feet of what he said the other day.  Cook denied the chair having been thrown at all, but the testimony of Mr. Wilkins stated that he held the chair with his foot. 

   From consideration of all the evidence before me, Mr. Cook, I am compelled to find you guilty, and I am exceedingly sorry to find such an unseemly squabble as this occurring between two members of a church. The sentence of the Court is that you pay a fine of $10 or in default thereof to go to gaol for twenty days. 

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School