A Protest for the Consideration of Governor Lowry.
EDITOR CLARION: A few weeks ago, the Supreme Court of our State affirmed the judgment of the Circuit Court of the Second District of Panola county, in the case of The State vs. Alfred Fields, who was twice convicted of the crime of attempting to bribe the Circuit Clerk of this county, and sentenced to two years imprisonment in the penitentiary. Both the Circuit Clerk and Alfred Fields are colored men; the latter has been a member of the Legislature from this county, having been elected on the Greenback ticket some years ago.
This case is now exciting considerable interest among a certain class of the citizens of the county, who will soon present petitions to his Excellency, Gov. Lowry, asking for the pardon of Fields. While we do not object to the Governor’s use of his power to pardon, yet it is not fair that the petition should cast aspersions upon the character of others, or charge them with criminal offences, unless they have been tried and convicted for such offences. Now, the petitioners after stating the charge upon which Fields was twice convicted by carefully selected, sworn jurors, say that, “There was but one witness against him; he made conflicting statements about the matter.” This very careless misrepresentation of facts should not pass unnoticed; because it does an injustice to Mr. Young, the principal witness for the State. The writer was present at both trials, listened carefully to the evidence, and knows – what has since become a matter of general remark – that the testimony of Mr. Young was straight-forward, and identical at both trials. And although Fields was represented by as able counsel as the State affords, who made many subtle efforts to entrap Mr. Young, yet, upon that evidence, at the first trial, and the repetition of that evidence, corroborated by the evidence of a prominent lawyer, at the last, Fields was convicted.
The petition states further that, “Fields denied the statement of the only witness against him.” The truth of the matter is, that Fields was never put upon the witness stand in his own defense; nor has he ever denied the truthfulness of Young’s statement; but on the contrary, when speaking of his conviction, he has exultingly and repeatedly stated that he would die before he would betray his friends.
The petition further asserts that, “A celebrated trial for murder was pending at the time, and it was charged that the names in the jury-box were to be changed in the interest of those accused of murder, and the great excitement against the principal who was accused of murder, and who escaped through a premature discharge of the jury by the Judge on the first trial, extended itself to the defendant Fields, and produced undue prejudice against him.” The writer does not believe that this “trial for murder” produced “undue prejudice” against Fields; but that the above statement of facts does clearly show the enormity of Field’s crime and that it as clearly shows the difference in the character of Fields and Young – the former attempting to poison the very fountain of justice, the jury system; and the latter not only refusing to be bribed, but very properly giving testimony against him.
Another noticeable feature of this case is, that after Fields’ conviction in the lower court last November, application was made to Judge Roane, in open court, to allow him bail, pending his appeal to the Supreme Court. This appeal was denied. And still Fields was never imprisoned in the county jail. And now, five weeks after the affirmation of his sentence to the penitentiary, by the Supreme Court, he is still running at large in this county soliciting persons to sign his petition for pardon.
Sardis, Miss., Feb. 28th, 1885.