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Not-so-good old days
Dramatic tales of violence, high stakes theft and civil suits from a superior court very often describe the noteworthy legal events of a time and place. However, it is in the records of the Norway Municipal Court that we see the day-to-day tragedies endured by ordinary people. Eighty years or so ago, during the 1930s, the cases noted in passing are sometimes unique to that time and place, but very often they could appear all too familiar. They usually appeared on page one, under the headline: NORWAY MUNICIPAL COURT Harry M. Shaw, Judge
From the Norway Advertiser, November 4, 1932:
Eugene Estes of Stow was before Judge Harry M. Shaw, Wednesday, on complaint of Seth B. Harriman, selectman of Stow, and charged with neglect of children. His wife, Josephine Estes, also a respondent, was unable to appear. A plea of not guilty was entered, but after a hearing, which lasted more than two hours, probable cause was found and five children were placed in the custody of Elva Drake, agent for the department of Public Health and Welfare.
Names and ages of the children are: Eleanor E. Estes, 12; Edna Estes, 10; Franklin Estes, 8; Clarabell Estes, 5; Alfred Estes, 3 months.
Among the witnesses were Seth Harriman and Maurice Eastman, selectmen of Stow, and Maurice L. McKeen, road commissioner. Robert T. Smith of So. Paris was counsel for Mr. and Mrs. Estes. The case was appealed.
John E. Newton of Norway pleaded guilty to the charges of reckless driving, Thursday morning. A fine of $10 and costs of court, $13.33 was imposed. He was given until Friday to pay. The respondent got into difficulty Saturday night while driving a car from Paris St. corner towards the business section of Main Street. Opposite the lower Cloverdale he struck two parked cars, one owned by Mrs. Bessie Foss that had the left rear mud guard smashed. The driver was slightly hurt and taken to a physician's office, then carried to his home.
Wilfred Turgeon of Berlin, N.H. and employed in Norway pleaded guilty to intoxication before Judge Harry M. Shaw in the Municipal Court, Saturday. He settled a fine of $3 and costs $3.70 and was discharged. Deputy Sheriff John J. Flynn was complainant.
Another example might be from the Norway Advertiser, November 25, 1932:
Bertrand D. Dunn of South Portland was found not guilty of the charge of negligently shooting his brother, Elmer W. Dunn, also of South Portland, on Saturday, Nov. 12, while the two brothers were hunting near the Briggs farm in Albany, near Bethel. Dr. S. S. Greenleaf of Bethel testified before Judge Harry M. Shaw, that he was called to the scene of the shooting and that he administered first aid. He also testified that the wounded man told him before he died, that his brother was in no way to blame. Clinton T. Goudy of South Portland was counsel for Dunn.
Zenon Fontaine of Stoneham was brought into court on Saturday by Deputy Sheriff Chester A. Cummings of Bethel and pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated. He paid a fine of $100 and costs and was discharged.
The same day Howard McKeen of West Paris pleaded not guilty to the charge of carrying a loaded gun in his car. He was adjudged guilty and sentenced to pay a fine of $5 and costs. Paid and discharged. Sheriff W. O. Frothingham entered the complaint.
Floreston Pierce of West Paris pleaded not guilty to the charge of driving while intoxicated, brought by Sheriff W. O. Frothingham. Respondent was adjudged guilty. A sentence of $100 and costs was imposed with thirty days in jail in default of payment. Unable to pay he was committed to the county jail.
The case of Sidney and Leon Bela of Shapleigh, who were charged with larceny of a steer in Porter, was heard Tuesday and nol-prossed. There was not sufficient evidence.
Clarence W. Everett of Paris was before Judge Shaw, Friday morning, charged with setting traps on land of Ralph Young of Oxford, without first obtaining the written permission of the owner. He plead guilty and was fined $5 and costs of $2.95, which he paid.
More indicative, perhaps, of that time of the "Great Depression" were these offenses from the Norway Advertiser, November 13, 1932:
Liquor, Sunday Hunting, Larceny and Begging Cases Arrested Attention of the Court
With liquor, Sunday hunting, larceny and begging cases on hand, Judge Harry M. Shaw had a busy week in Norway Municipal Court.
Dane McMullen of Oxford, charged with assault by Harry P. Landers pleaded not guilty and the case nol prossed as there was a lack of prosecution.
Holman Tucker of Waterford pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated and was sentenced to pay a fine of $100 and costs of $42.50, with thirty days in which to pay. Highway Officer Eugene H. Stevens was complainant. D. B. Partridge was attorney for the respondent.
On Saturday, Karl Boudreau of Bangor pleaded guilty to begging and was sentence to thirty days in jail. Mittimus was stayed provided he quit town before 5 o'clock. Monday morning he was picked up again and the mittimus issued. Deputy John J. Flynn as complainant.
Charles Thompson of Bridgton, who was brought into court Monday by Game Warden Wm. R. French of Lovell, pleaded guilty to hunting Sunday. He paid a fine of $5 and costs of $5.85, and discharged. The offense was committed in Sweden.
William Guptill, 19, Orman McAllister, 15, and Frank Merrill, 12, all of Lovell, pleaded guilty to the charge of larceny in the night time in the camp of H. I. Perkins in Lovell. Goods to the value of $78 are alleged to have been taken. Young Guptill and McAllister were bound over to the Superior Court in November. The first was held in the sum of $1,000, the sureties are Walter F. Baroque and Dana McAllister of North Lovell, the latter furnished bonds in the sum of $500 and was secured by Ralph R. McAllister and Rev. W. I. Bull. Frank Merrill, only twelve years of age, was given a lot of fatherly advise by Judge Shaw and placed on probation for one year He must report the first of every month to Deputy Sheriff Albert E. Nelson of Stoneham.
Another larceny hearing was State vs. George Smith of Lovell, who pleaded guilty to the larceny of goods valued about $21 at the camp of George Fox in Lovell. Respondent was bound over to the Superior Court and furnished securities in the sum of $1,000. The bondsmen were Wm. H. Farrington and Wendall McAllister of Lovell.
Notice the offenses of "begging" and the relatively low yield of burglaries. Times were tough for everybody back then.
As is our custom, we try to exactly reproduce the grammar, spelling, punctuation and style of the original. Commas might appear where least expected and remain absent where we’d expect them if the item was written nowadays. On the other hand, consistency was not considered of utmost importance, so variations of a spelling might appear within one story. In addition, some words were abbreviated differently than today. Where brief explanations of terms are considered necessary, they are presented in brackets  within the quote. Otherwise, explanations appear at the beginning or at the conclusion, without quotes. Parenthesis () used in a quoted passage appeared in the original.