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State v. Gussman

Decided: March 7, 1955.

THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY, PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
CHARLES J. GUSSMAN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



Clapp, Jayne and Francis. The opinion of the court was delivered by Clapp, S.j.a.d.

Clapp

Charles J. Gussman was convicted by the Municipal Court of the Township of Weehawken of contempt of court for writing and mailing a letter. The letter, which was provoked by a ticket given him for speeding through the Lincoln Tunnel, reads:

"Mr. George L. McNally,

Judge, Municipal Court,

Weehawken, N.J.

Sir:

In reference to Summons number 4934, bail receipt number 401:

As the arresting officer is not to appear at the scheduled hearing and since all you would be called on to decide would be the veracity of the officer as against mine, it is manifestly futile for me to drive a hundred and twenty-five miles [from Mr. Gussman's residence in Pennsylvania] to attempt to establish my innocence. Hence, I shall not go to the trouble.

This is, I realize, the reason I was chosen for the shake-down: in the corrupt municipalities along the Jersey side of the Hudson it is notorious that you arrest largely those with out-of-state licenses; they haven't a vote, they weigh inconvenience and futility against their indignation at the decadent morality they encounter.

You, sir, are a party to this degeneracy, whether you choose to acknowledge it or not. The police lieutenant (name on bail receipt illegible) was rude and arrogant and the arresting officer dishonest and foul-mouthed because both realized they could count on being supported by the fraternity of mutual immorality you share with them.

Let me assure you, however, that the twenty-five dollars extorted from me is not a profit to those of you whose pockets it reaches. Because I address readers of thirty-nine newspapers thru my weekly column and reach almost three million radio homes with my program Weehawken will, in adverse public relations resulting from mentions I make in years to come, suffer a loss many, many times the amount extorted from me.

Shame on you, sir, for participating in the degradation of democratic processes.

I am,

Sincerely,

Charles J. Gussman"

Gussman sent copies of the letter to the Mayor of Weehawken and the ...


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