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CHARGES AGAINST WILLIAM E. BAKER
DISTRICT OF WEST VIRGINIA
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
SIXTY-EIGHTH CONGRESS, SECOND SESSION
GEORGE S. GRAHAM, Pennsylvania, Chairman LEONIDAS C. DYER, Missouri.
ROBERT Y, THOMAS, JR., Kentucky.
HATTON W. SUMNERS, Texas.
JOHN N, TILLMAN, Arkansas.
FRED H. DOMINICK, South Carolina. ISRAEL M. FOSTER, Ohio.
SAMUEL C. MAJOR, Missouri. BARL C. MICHENER, Michigan.
ROYAL H. WHEELER, New York.
PATRICK B, O'SULLIVAN, Connecticut
GUILFORD S. JAMESON, Clerk
SUBCOMMITTEE NO. 1
ISRAEL M, FOSTER.
LEONIDAS C. DYER, Chairman
ANDREW J. MONTAGUE.
CHARGES AGAINST WILLIAM E. BAKER, UNITED STATES
DISTRICT JUDGE FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF
The Speaker (by request) referred the petition of T. A. Brown, United States district attorney for the northern district of West Virginia complaining of the official conduct of William E. Baker, judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, praying that the subject of his complaint might be inquired into by Congress, to the Committee on the Judiciary. The communication and charges referred to are as follows:
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE,
Parkersburg, W. Va., April 19, 1924.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Washington, D. C.
you a short time since. I am sending these charges direct to you, hoping that you may find some way whereby action may be taken thereon.
The conditions existing in this judicial district have become a notorious scandal, not only a disgrace to the judiciary but a disgrace to the country that "smells to heaven.'
I will not attempt to review these charges in this communication; I only ask you to read them. They speak for themselves. I believe you will agree with me that if these charges are true and can be sustained by proof that Judge Baker should be impeached and removed from office. If they are not true and are falsely made against him, then I as a public official should be unceremoniously dismissed from the office that I now hold. If Judge Baker is an innocent man, he and his friends at this moment–in fact long ago-should have demanded a hearing on these charges, to the end that he might be vindicated; but instead of them pursuing this course they have been moving heaven and earth to prevent a hearing.
These charges, in the form of a report on conditions in this district, were filed by me with the Attorney General more than a year ago. The Department of Justice regarded the document with such seriousness that it was transmitted to the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives, the Attorney General saying at the time, as I am informed, that the Department of Justice would not take the responsibility of withholding the report from Congress. What recommendation or what communication accompanied my report when the same was filed with the Judiciary Committee I am unable to say, as I have never seen it, nor have I had any intimation as to its contents. The Department of Justice took the position that the only power that could act in a matter of this kind affecting a Federal judge was through Congress. I am therefore formally calling your attention to these charges, which can be established by competent evidence...
As United States attorney it is my duty to enforce the Federal laws to the best of my ability in this judicial district against all offenders, high and low, rich and poor, and the powerful as well as the weak. In presenting the case of Judge Baker to the Congress of the United States, I am appealing to the only tribunal that possesses the power, under the Constitution, to enforce the law against a Federal judge as to offenses of the kind and character involved in these charges.
The substance of these charges is generally known and discussed not only throughout this judicial district but throughout the State of West Virginia. From time to time they have been mentioned and in a veiled way discussed in the public press of the State. If they are untrue and can not be substantiated by competent evidence, and investigation of them can in no way injure Judge Baker, but under the circumstances a vindication will relieve him of the stigma under which he now rests. On the other hand, if they are true, his punishment should be speedy and decisive.
When I felt compelled from a sense of duty and decency to file with the Department of Justice a report as to conditions in this judicial district involving the judge of the district court, it was not a pleasant task; it is not a pleasant task on my part now to formally file these
charges with you, but as an officer of this Government it is my duty to do so, and that duty is now performed. Respectfully,
T. A. BROWN, United States Attorney.
United States of America v. William E. Baker, judge of the United
States Court for the Northern District of West Virginia
UPON IMPEACHMENT IN THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES
The following are some of the facts known to exist relative to the conduct of William E. Baker, judge of the United States Court for the Northern District of West Virginia, which show him to be guilty of drunkenness when in the discharge of his official duty; confiscation and consumption of intoxicating liquor seized by prohibition agents; the imprisonment of a citizen without the color and justification under the circumstances which constitute a flagrant violation of his oath of office; and the commission of other high crimes and misdemeanors, and also, as well, unfitness and incompetency to fill the judicial position now held by him, and to which he was appointed about the latter part of March or the early part of April, 1921.
DRUNKENNESS AND VIOLATION OF THE LIQUOR LAWS First. At the city of Wheeling, W. Va., at the May term, 1922, of the United States district court, and while Judge Baker was then and there holding said term of court, a State prohibition officer, one Fred E. Clayton, personally delivered a quart of bonded liquor to Judge Baker, which Judge Baker opened in the presence of the prohibition officer and drank therefrom, and the said liquor was deliv. ered by the said agent at and upon the solicitation of the said judge.
Second. That upon the evening of October 26, 1922, while the said Judge Baker was holding the term of said court in the city of Wheeling, he appeared in the dining room of the McLure Hotel, in the city of Wheeling, under the influence of liquor, his intoxicated condition being perfectly noticeable and apparent, and he indulged in talking in an unusually loud tone of voice and was boasting loudly of his wealth, and with a profane expression stated that he did not care anything about his position, and that he had money enough without it. He was then and there in a grossly inebriated condition.
Third. That after the first term of court held by Judge Baker after his appointment, at Clarksburg, in the month of April or May, 1921, he indulged in drinking intoxicating liquor to such an extent that upon one occasion he became so grossly intoxicated that he was unable to appear in the court room upon the following morning and open court until after he had secured a drink of whisky; that one George L. Hannen, then and there a Federal prohibition agent, was apprised of the condition of Judge Baker and was asked to furnish the whisky then thought to be necessary for the judge, and that Mr. Hannen refused to furnish the whisky, but referred the request to a Mr. Lohm, then United States commissioner in Clarksburg, and that Mr. Lohm, in answer to the request, furnished the desired half