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State v. McGovern

Decided: October 1, 1946.

STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WILLIAM J. MCGOVERN ET AL., DEFENDANTS



On motion to adjudge in contempt.

For the defendant McGovern, George P. Moser.

For the State of New Jersey, Walter D. Van Riper, Attorney-General, and Mark Townsend, Deputy Attorney-General.

For Mary Angela Doherty, John Warren.

Before Justices Donges, Heher and Colie.

Colie

The opinion of the court was delivered by

COLIE, J. This case comes before the court on the motion of William J. McGovern to adjudge Mary Angela Doherty in contempt of court for failure to comply with the direction of a Supreme Court Commissioner to answer certain questions put to her in the course of a hearing then being conducted before him, and in the alternative for a rule requiring and directing said Mary Angela Doherty to appear before the Supreme Court Commissioner and give answers to certain questions which will be discussed later in this memorandum.

A review of the prior proceedings in this cause is essential to the understanding of the legal points to be hereinafter discussed and we now proceed to that review.

William J. McGovern, the sheriff of Hudson County, was indicted for failure to comply with R.S. 53:1-15 requiring the fingerprinting and photographing of persons arrested for an indictable offense. The indictments were returned by the December term, 1944, grand jury of Hudson County. Immediately thereafter, McGovern applied to the Court of Chancery for an injunction to restrain the Attorney-General and acting prosecutor of Hudson County from fingerprinting and photographing him. McGovern v. Van Riper, 137 N.J. Eq. 24; affirmed, 137 Id. 548. Thereafter, McGovern applied to the Supreme Court and it allowed a writ of certiorari for the purpose of moving to quash and dismiss the indictments against him. The motion to quash set forth the grounds in twenty-seven numbered paragraphs. Ground 18, which states the sole ground presently germane, reads:

"18. That the Jury Commissioners in and for the County of Hudson, Mary Angela Doherty and Ulysses S. Mowle who prepared the Grand Jury list for the December 1944 Term deliberately and knowingly and intentionally omitted from the Grand Jury list any and all persons affiliated with the regular Democratic Organization of Hudson County with the avowed purpose and intention of effecting a selection from such list of a Grand Jury in and for the County of Hudson for the December Term A.D. 1944 which would have within it persons whose political affiliations were only with the regular

Republican Organization or the organization of so called 'Edison Democrats' in Hudson County."

Leave to take depositions to be used on the return to the writ of certiorari was applied for and the Supreme Court, on December 6th, 1945, granted the application. After the entry of the order of December 6th, 1945, the taking of depositions proceeded and Mary Angela Doherty was called as a witness on behalf of the prosecutor of the writ, McGovern. In the course of her examination she was asked a number of questions but refused to answer each and every one of them, although ...


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