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Category Archives: Investigations & The Trial

Witness Statements, Coroners Report, Preliminary, Trial.

CARA W. ROBERTSON – THE TRIAL OF LIZZIE BORDEN

Twenty years in the making, this promises to be the next best thing to the Fall River Historical Society’s Parallel Lives – A Social History of Lizzie Andrew Borden and Her Fall River.

Cara Warschaw Robertson

This book

You can pre-order (as I did weeks ago) on Amazon.   Cara has been a great and long-time contributor to the FRHS’s Borden collection.  Her background is absolutely stellar. She was admitted to the California Bar in 1997 – but here’s a brief recap:

“Ms. Robertson earned her B.A. from Harvard College (summa cum laude), her Ph.D. from Oxford University and her J.D. from Stanford Law School (with distinction). After law school, she clerked for the Honorable James R. Browning, United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and for the Honorable John Paul Stevens and the Honorable Byron White of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Ms. Robertson has been an associate legal officer for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, a visiting scholar at Stanford Law School and a fellow at the National Humanities Center.”

I knew of Ms. Robertson because in my own research on the case  I had come across her  work published in the Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities (Summer 1996, Vol. 8, No. 2) entitled:  “Representing Miss Lizzie: Cultural Convictions in the Trial of Lizzie Borden”.

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However,  I actually met her during one of my twice annual visits to Fall River through an introduction by Curator Michael Martins.  It was in 2001, in the basement of the FRHS  where she was engaged in deep research for this book.  A few days later we chatted outdoors on the FRHS property (inside the gazebo) about all things Lizzie.  She struck me as a lovely person and a most serious scholar.  She also struck me as off-the-charts smart.  Thus, I have been awaiting this book ever since.

Here’s the promo text from the Amazon site – enough to get all Borden case enthusiasts salivating:

“The Trial of Lizzie Borden tells the true story of one of the most sensational murder trials in American history. When Andrew and Abby Borden were brutally hacked to death in Fall River, Massachusetts, in August 1892, the arrest of the couple’s younger daughter Lizzie turned the case into international news and her trial into a spectacle unparalleled in American history. Reporters flocked to the scene. Well-known columnists took up conspicuous seats in the courtroom. The defendant was relentlessly scrutinized for signs of guilt or innocence. Everyone—rich and poor, suffragists and social conservatives, legal scholars and laypeople—had an opinion about Lizzie Borden’s guilt or innocence. Was she a cold-blooded murderess or an unjustly persecuted lady? Did she or didn’t she?

The popular fascination with the Borden murders and its central enigmatic character has endured for more than one hundred years. Immortalized in rhyme, told and retold in every conceivable genre, the murders have secured a place in the American pantheon of mythic horror, but one typically wrenched from its historical moment. In contrast, Cara Robertson explores the stories Lizzie Borden’s culture wanted and expected to hear and how those stories influenced the debate inside and outside of the courtroom. Based on transcripts of the Borden legal proceedings, contemporary newspaper accounts, unpublished local accounts, and recently unearthed letters from Lizzie herself, The Trial of Lizzie Borden offers a window onto America in the Gilded Age, showcasing its most deeply held convictions and its most troubling social anxieties.”

Oh, goody, goody, goody.  New stuff.  New author.   BUT NOT A NEW RESEARCHER.  And there’s the difference my friends.  This woman knows her stuff inside and out.   I’m certain one will be hard pressed in the reading of her book to find misquotes or misinformation.

And don’t forget:  She’s smart – really, really smart.  And, oh, so nice.

Buy the book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MR. ROBINSON! TEAR DOWN THAT FILE CABINET!”

(Recycled post)

Jun. 29th, 2007

 

 

George Dexter Robinson Blue Flo Plate of Gov. Robinson

3X Governor of Mass. private collection of Faye Musselman

Headed Lizzie’s defense team On loan to Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast

 

from South Coast Today April 14, 1998

“By Paul Edward Parker, Providence Journal-Bulletin

FALL RIVER — In a locked storage room on the 16th floor of a high-rise office building in Springfield, a five-drawer file cabinet may hold the secrets of Fall River’s most enduring mystery: Who killed Andrew and Abby Borden. Only one man has the key to that locked filing cabinet, an administrator in the law firm that, more than a century ago, represented Lizzie Borden when she was acquitted of murdering her father and stepmother. Since June 1893, the papers inside that filing cabinet have remained a secret between Lizzie and her lawyer, former Gov. George D. Robinson. But all that may soon change.

The U.S. Supreme Court is considering a case involving former White House aide Vincent W. Foster, who committed suicide in 1993. Whitewater prosecutor Kenneth W. Starr has demanded to see notes of a conversation between Foster and his lawyer just days before the suicide. The high court will hear oral arguments in that case on June 8, with a decision expected in late June or early July. The court will decide whether attorney-client privilege, which protects the secrecy of the relationship between lawyers and their clients, continues after the client dies. It is the attorney-client privilege that has kept the Robinson papers out of the public eye for 105 years. Though Lizzie is long gone, her lawyer lives on, in the form of Robinson, Donovan, Madden & Barry, the law firm that succeeded Governor Robinson’s firm.

The Supreme Court’s pending ruling opens a tantalizing possibility to historians and Borden buffs. “Would we like to look at Robinson’s papers? Absolutely, of course,” said George E. Quigley, president of The International Lizzie Borden Association.

Said Michael Martins, curator of the Fall River Historical Society: “Any documents that pertain to a case as notorious as the Borden case, a great unsolved murder mystery, would be of tremendous interest to researchers and scholars.” The historical society is home to the largest collection of Borden material, including the papers of prosecutor Hosea M. Knowlton and City Marshal Rufus B. Hilliard, Fall River’s police chief at the time of the murders. “I’m sure it’s an interesting collection,” Martins said of the Robinson papers, “but I doubt there’s anything that’s going to prove the case.”

The types of documents in the collection are as mysterious as what they might say.
Bruce Lyon, administrator at the Robinson firm, said the collection includes newspaper clippings and other materials that were publicly available. It also includes a lot more material, he said, all of which is privileged.

Around the time of the 100th anniversary of the murders, in 1992, the firm consulted with the Board of Bar Overseers, the agency that oversees the conduct of lawyers. The board informally advised that not only does the attorney-client privilege bar the firm from releasing the papers, it prevents the firm from disclosing the nature of what it holds. Lyon said the Robinson papers have been catalogued and placed in protective document holders, but he could not say anything more.

Speculation is that the files might contain letters between Lizzie and Robinson; letters between Robinson and other lawyers involved in the case; Robinson’s notes, both strategic preparations and documenting how the trial progressed; and other documents relating to testimony at the trial and preliminary proceedings.

Few expect to find anything directly incriminating Lizzie, such as a signed confession. But the papers may hold bits of information that may have seemed inconsequential at the time that, viewed with a modern understanding of the case, might bolster one or more theories of the crime.

“Some things in there might be historical,” Quigley said. “There might be statements in there that might be damning or might be helpful to her. There would be notes that Robinson wrote about the case that would be telling. Who knows.”

The Supreme Court’s ruling will probably only deal with whether lawyers can be ordered to divulge material relating to dead clients. A ruling paving the way for release of the papers would only be the first step to their becoming public. If the Robinson papers became publicly available and the law firm wanted to lend or donate them to the historical society, Martins would be happy to accept them, but added, “we wouldn’t go after them.”

Martins said the society, in such a case, would probably seek to publish the papers, a painstaking process involving years of transcribing handwritten notes. The society published prosecutor Knowlton’s papers in 1994, and has been preparing the roughly 600 documents in Hilliard’s papers, which are still several years from publication. Despite the keen historical interest in the material, even Martins and Quigley are hesitant to advocate that the Supreme Court extinguish the attorney-client privilege upon a client’s death.

Quigley noted that Foster has living relatives, who could be hurt by the release of confidential material. “Lizzie, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “She’s dead. She’s dead a long time.”

Martins thinks the privilege should be extended even to the long-dead accused ax murderess. “Personally, I think Lizzie Borden bought and paid for her defense,” he said. “Isn’t it important that they protect the documents of their former clients? I think it’s important that they do that.”

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The Supreme Court, using the case of Vincent Foster, ruled that lawyers must still maintain the attorney-client privilege, even when the client is dead. Personally, I can see the merits of this with regards to private correspondence. But the firm most likely has what remains the only surviving copy of Bridget Sullivan’s Inquest Testimony. Testimony from all others called by District Attorney Knowlton has long since been made public via the “Jennings hip bath collection” sold by the Fall River Historical Society. The Inquest was a legal proceeding and if this firm does have Bridget’s testimony, it surely is not “material between lawyers and their client” and, IMHO, should be released and made public.

About 5 years ago I sent an email to attorney Jeffrey McCormick (no longer with the firm) following up on Jules Ryckebusch’s earlier plea in 1992 to release the files. I received a prompt and courteous email response citing their standard reply as indicated above.

The firm has evolved and grown, now known as Robinson Donovan P.C. Check out their website: http://www.robinson-donovan.com/index.epl

Tags: george dexter robinson, robinson donovan p.c., robinson law firm

 

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Posted by phayemuss on July 27, 2007 in Fall River Police Department, Investigations & The Trial, Legal & Forensics, Newspaper Coverage, The Borden Family

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 23, 2018 in Investigations & The Trial

 

New Book: In My Opinion, The Inquest Hearing of Lizzie Andrew Borden

….. Volume I  by Keith A. Buchanan

 

Just started reading this new publication written with a fresh , creative approach.  Mr. Buchanan actually puts us inside the room where the Coroner’s Inquest was held where we are silent observers to the excellent guide/narrator, “John”.   “John” begins with laying the foundation of the case and reveals Witness Interviews making us feel as if they are talking to us, and later, some giving inquest testimony, “John” makes them feel familiar to us.

So far I am thoroughly delighted with this approach – the most original I have come across in decades.  The book is flush with illustrations, some never seen before.  The author’s extensive and detailed research is without question.  Not only does he capture the full inquest testimonies of all those called (with the exception of Bridget Sullivan, of course) but he provides personal profile information on them.  However, I have noted a few errors – not many – and one photo illustration attributed to the wrong person.  But this is such a fun read that I will forego comment on those until a completed read when I can do a valid review of this 503 page gem.    Meantime, get this book!

In the Lizzie landscape of non-fiction, this book is akin to a new ride at Disneyland.

Parts can be read HERE.

P.S.   Author Keith A. Buchanan is life long resident of Fall River.

Also, off topic but related to disposition of “Maplecroft” – this is the one option that made the most sense.  Thank you, Donald Woods! :0 

 

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June 1893 Timeline of Lizzie Borden’s Trial

 

Mayor

Above image is from my CD “Threads That Bind”.

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I used to sell the bookmarks shown in the above image.

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HISTORIC TIMELINE
LIZZIE BORDEN – FALL RIVER, MA
1612 – 2005

1998-2005 Faye Musselman – All Rights Reserved

Inclusive dates of the Superior Court Trial – held in New Bedford – composed from extracts of my Historic Timeline.

June 5, 1893-June 20, 1893
THE TRIAL OF LIZZIE BORDEN

June 5, 1893 Monday
1st Day: Court convened at 11:28 am. 111 were questioned before the 12 were selected. Charles I. Richards selected as jury foreman.

June 6, 1893Tuesday
2nd Day: Indictment is read; William Moody opens for the Prosecution. Lizzie faints and is revived.

June 6, 1893Tuesday
Civil Engr. Thomas Kieran called, gives measurements, testifies man could have hid in front entry closet.

June 6, 1893Tuesday
Jurors travel to Fall River; visit Kelly’s house, Wade’s store, Crowe’s stone yard, Chagnon’s house, Kirby’s yard, Alice Russell’s house, Gorman’s store, Clegg’s store and banks. Tour finished at 4:00 pm.

June 6, 1893Tuesday
Jurors taken to Mellen House, Franklin & North Main Street where they spend the night.

June 7, 1893 Wednesday
3rd Day: James A. Walsh, photographer testifies as to the accuracy of the pictures he had made of the victims and the house on the day of the killing.

June 7, 1893 Wednesday
John Vinnicum Morse examination conducted by Moody, not different from that as the preliminary hearing. Lizzie smiled as her uncle tried to calculate her age and shook her head vigorously when he came out as 33.

June 7, 1893 Wednesday
Abram G. Hart, treasurer of Union Savings Bank, testifies as to Borden’s movements on morning of the 8/4.

June 9, 1893Friday
John Minnehan, patrolman assigned to follow John Morse on August 5, 1892, dies at age 48 in Fall River.

June 12, 1893 Monday
Lizzie’s Inquest Testimony ruled inadmissible.

June 13, 1893Tuesday
AG Pillsbury arrives by train from Boston, consults with Knowlton & Moody & returns same evening. (ES)

June 13, 1893Tuesday
Skulls of Andrew and Abby are presented in court, Lizzie leaves the courtroom.

June 14, 1893 Wednesday
John T. Burrill, cashier of the Union National Bank, Everett M. Cook, cashier of the First National Bank, Jonathan Clegg, a hat dealer, Joseph Shortsleeves, a carpenter, and John Maher, a carpenter

June 14, 1893 Tuesday
Judges ruling excludes Eli Bence’s prussic acid testimony .

June 14, 1893
At Knowlton’s request during Dr. Draper’s testimony, Dr. Dolan brings in the skulls of Andrew & Abby. Lizzie is allowed to retire from the courtroom. (TT1046)

June 14, 1893 Wednesday
9th Day: C. C. Potter’s son (Freddy) finds hatchet w/gilt on roof of Crowe’s barn. Carpenter Carl McDonnel claims it is his hatchet; prussic acid testimony (Eli Bence) ruled inadmissible.

June 15, 1893
FR Evening News reports hatchet found on roof of John Crowe’s barn. ( FREN18)

June 15, 1893 Wednesday
Opening statements by Defense are given by Andrew Jennings.

June 15, 1893 Wednesday
Opening statements by Andrew Jennings.

June 16, 1893 Wednesday
Emma Borden testifies.

June 16, 1893
Governor Robinson reads from Bridget’s Inquest Testimony (a missing document) (TT)

June 19, 1893 Wednesday
Governor Robinson gives closing arguments; Knowlton begins his closing.

June 16, 1893 Wednesday
Emma Borden testifies.

June 20, 1893 Tuesday
13th Day:

3:24 pm
The Jury retires to deliberate.

4:32 pm
The Jury returns. Lizzie Borden pronounced “Not Guilty” at 4:35 pm. (TT1928) )

June 20, 1893

8:15 pm
Lizzie & Emma arrive by coach w/Mrs. Holmes at 67 Pine St. in FR; small reception follows. Lizzie spends night there. Large crowd gathered at 92 Second St. (CaseBook228)

June 22, 1893
Reupholstered sofa is delivered back to the house on Second Street.

June 23, 1893
Lizzie visits the Wm. Covell’s in Newport, RI, has classic picture of her “standing behind the chair” taken.

June 23, 1893
Morse attempts to get mileage reimbursement from Iowa to New Bedford from Co. Treasurer. (FRHN)

June 27, 1893
Lizzie & Emma go to Taunton to visit Sheriff Wright’s wife.

July 3, 1893
Lizzie and Emma purchase house on French Street.

July 19, 1893
Lizzie’s 33rd Birthday.

July 19, 1893
FR Weekly News reports Lizzie won trip to Chicago World’s Fair via coupon write-in from public.

July 23, 1893
Lizzie escorted to CC Church by Dr. Bowen & Mr. Holmes. (Chicago Daily Tribune 7/24/1893)

August 4, 1893
First of annual articles about crime appears in The Globe.

August 10, 1893
Deed recorded for purchase of French Street house by Lizzie & Emma. (LR556)

August 12, 1893
New Bedford Standard prints Lizzie’s Inquest Testimony.

August 13, 1893
Lizzie & Emma transfer their deed for ½ interest of Whitehead house (Abby’s share) to Sarah & George.

August 14, 1893
Reporter Joseph Howard publishes his criticism of Judge Dewey’s charge to jury.

August 17, 1893
Lizzie and Emma sold for $1 the ½ house on 4h St. to Sarah whitehead & Priscilla Fish. (LR556)

August 21, 1893
FR Police announce case is closed.

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“What Is That Thing?” A Lizzie Borden Querry

Who knows what this is?

It is still inside the closet in “Bridget Sullivan’s bedroom” at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum.

Tim Weisberg‘s  Spooky Southcoast podcast episode entitled: “The Real Lizzie Borden” was broadcast shortly after the publishing of  Parallel Lives.  The featured guests on that episode were Michael Martins and Dennis Binette (curator and assistant curator of the Fall River Historical Society).  They help identify just what this is.

Advance to 46.10 to the relevant call in.

Here’s the link.

 

 

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New Book on Lizzie Borden Unlike Any Other

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Been reading Rebecca Pittman’new book which is unlike any other Lizzie book written to date. This 826 page marvel shows deep research, surprisingly probable speculations, and is an overwhelmingly thrilling read. There is a generous number of images – many never seen before in this stunning work. In the “A New Address” chapter readers will find exclusive post-renovation interior images of “Maplecroft“, the home Lizzie lived in the entire second half of her life.

In the “Interviews” section we find a “coming together” (inside joke) of the three major Borden Blogmasters,, i.e., Shelley Dziedzic, Stefani Koorey, and moi revealing our embryonic interest in the case, etc.

I’ll be doing an in depth review when I finish reading this book and after I return from an overseas vacation.  Meanwhile, don’t wait.  Buy it!  Available at Amazon.

 

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New! Lizzie Borden Chat Page on Facebook

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Check this out.  Lively discussion on the photo of Andrew Borden on the sofa and preliminary autopsy.  Lizzie Andrew Borden Chat Page on Facebook.

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And while we’re at it:   WHO WORE IT BEST?

ricciaxeChristina Ricci

Candy_Montgomery_ax_murdererCandace Montgomery

lizaxe                                                      Elizabeth Montgomery