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Old News Stories
Chatsworth Holds Parade in Dalton, 1915

From The Atlanta Constitution
Oct. 15, 1915



Parade in Dalton, Where Fite Holds Court, in
Honor of Their Victory Before the Supreme Court.

Dalton, Ga., October 13.—(Special.)—Jubilant citizens of Chatsworth held a torch light procession here tonight in celebration of the supreme court's second reversal of Judge A. W. Fite in the Murray county courthouse case, which today released the three county commissioners and their attorney from the Murray county Jail, where they had been Imprisoned for nearly a month at the Judge's order.

Friends of the commissioners felt that they simply had to celebrate. And since Judge Fite was holding court at Dalton they felt that Dalton was the proper place for the .celebration. So they piled into automobiles, came here and for a time the town fairly glowed with red lights and the spirit of their enthusiasm.

"What We Expected."

"It's only what we expected," was the sentiment of the commissioners when they learned of the supreme court's action: During their long incarceration they have steadfastly maintained that they would eventually be sustained by the higher court. Despite the pressure brought to bear upon them, they have refused to budge from their original position in regard to the site for the courthouse.

Now, they are more confident than ever that they will win out. There is more trouble ahead for them, however, for recently at Cartersvllle Judge Fite Issued three additional restraining orders which will delay the construction of the courthouse. The commissioners and their friends, however, are convinced that when these are taken before the supreme court the only result can be more reversals.

Not the First Time.

Judge Fite Issued the following statement in regard to the supreme court's decision:

"Of course, I am somewhat surprised at the decision of the supreme court, but it is not the first time that I have been reversed when I was right. The decision may or may not end the case. If it does the defendants should be discharged, unconditionally, without waiting the usual ten days for the remittitur, but it does not, and there are other facts that can and should be investigated by the court the defendants should be discharged conditionally. I will, therefore, pass an order discharging the defendants, subject to any further order and judgment that may be hereafter rendered by the court In the case.

"I shall refrain from a further discussion of the matter until I am more fully acquainted with the opinion of the court reversing me."

The order releasing the famous prisoners of Murray was transmitted to the sheriff of Murray county, and to Dr. Dunn, J. A. McGhee, Tom Hemphill and their attorney, J. M. Sellers, who have occupied apartments in the new jail at Chatsworth since September 15, were released.

There is rejoicing in the camp of the commissioners and their companions, and gloom in the tents of those who sought the injunction. Politics occupies a prominent place in the entire matter, and knowing ones predict that the end is not yet, and that the courthouse of Murray county is destined to yet experience things that will outrival those of the "House that Jack Built."


The state supreme court, in its decision yesterday reversing Judge W. A. Fite in his now famous contempt order against the Murray county board of commissioners and their clerk, more or less mildly lectures the judge of the lower court in the following language, used in the decision:

"Attachment for contempt in violating such an order (the original order issued by Judge Fite) is a summary remedy which should affect the liberty of citizens, and care should be taken In its use."

The decision further contains the following language:

Sellers Not Commisioner.

"Further, we see no evidence which authorized the holding of Sellers in contempt. He was not a commissioner and had no authority to revoke the tax levy and withdraw the publication, if he had so desired.

"Upon the whole, after careful consideration, we are constrained to think that the trial judge erred in the judgement which he rendered."

The decision reversing Judge Fite is on an appeal to the supreme court on the order adjudging in contempt of Judge Fit's court the board of county commissioners of Murray county, composed of Messrs. D. R. Dunn, T. M. Hemphill and J. A. McGhee, and their clerk and attorney, J. M. Sellers, all of whom were put in the common jail of Murray county several weeks ago, as an outgrowth of the contention between the commissioners and Judge Fite and several citizens of Murray county over the transfer of the legal situs of the country from Springplace to Chattsworth.

Stopped Courthouse Work.

An order had previously been issued by Judge Fite to stop the commissioner from erecting the new courthouse at Chatsworth, and that case was appealed to the supreme court, which held that the selection of a county site was in the jurisdiction of the commissioners and not of the court. Subsequently, as is shown by the evidence in the case, Judge Fite attempted to stop the levy of a special tax for the purpose of building the courthouse, but the tax levy had been made when his order was served, whereupon he issued the contempt order upon which the commissioners and Clerk Sellers were put in jail. It is that case which was decided against Judge Fite yesterday.

A further restraining order issued by Judge Fite is now pending; wherein he has enjoined the country tax collector from making collection of the special tax as levied by the commissioners. That remains to be passed upon by the supreme court.

The Court Opinion.

The headnote of yesterday's opinion, which was written by Justice Lumpkin and concurred in by the judges of the supreme bench, is a concise summary of the case. It is as follows:

"On an application for an injunction to restrain certain county commissioners and their clerk from levying a special tax to build a courthouse, a rule nisi was granted and a restraining order passed, enjoining them until the hearing prayed. On the hearing for an application for an attachment for violating the restraining order, the plantiffs introduced no evidence except the publication in three issues of a newspaper (on August 26 and September 2 and 9) of a copy of an order of the county commissioners levying county taxes, including a tax for building a courthouse. The defendants, by their sworn answer, alleged that the commissions had ‘levied the tax,' had "advertised same,' and had adjourned and gone to their respective homes before they had ny knowledge of the restraining order, and they levied the tax before they had any knowledge that the petition had been presented to the court; and they also showed by the evidence of the clerk that the order levying the tax (dated August 20), had been entered on their minutes, and that a copy had been posted on the courthouse door and another copy mailed to the tax collector and still another delivered to the newspaper for publication before they had any notice of the restraining order (it having been granted on the same day when the commissioners met at a place about 40 miles distant from that where the meeting was held and not having been served on any of the defendants until the next day after its passage, and on one or more of them two days later). They also denied any intention to violate or defy the restraining order. The court adjudged all of the defendants to be in contempt, provided that they might purge themselves of the contempt by discontinuing and withdrawing insanter the special tax levy for the building of a courthouse, and the publication thereof in the newspaper, and paying the costs of the proceeding. It was further ordered that, on failure to do this, the defendants should be confined in the common jail until further order.

"Judgement was erroneous."

"Held: That such judgment was erroneous."

The evidence as submitted shows that the order issued by Judge Fite directed to restrain the county commissioners from levying a special tax for courthouse purposes was dated at Cartersville on September 4; that the county commissioners of Murray county held their meeting and levied the general and special ax of the county on September 4. The supreme court, therefore, hold, in its decision, that the original restraining order was only to prevent the levying of a special tax; that the commissioners had shown that they had already levied the tax sought to be restrained, had published the levy, adjourned the meeting and gone to their respective homes. "It does not appear," says the supreme court, "that the defendants did any affirmative act in regard to the matter of a tax levy after notice of the restraining order. The only complaints made here is that the newspaper published the notice after the defendants were served with the restraining order, and it does not appear that they made any effort to stop the publication ...... There was no evidence tending to show that they acted contumaciously."

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