Hertfordshire Summer Assizes
Seasonal Assizes were traditional affairs full of colour, pomp and ceremony preceding the opening of the court. It served to remind the local populace of the power of the State and two key institutions of the establishment played a role in opening the Assizes.
The Hertfordshire Summer Assizes were opened by the Lord Chief Justice of England, Lord Alvestone. His Lordship arrived on Saturday evening at his lodgings, the residence of Mr O.A. Christie. On Sunday morning His Lordship, accompanied by the High Sheriff (Sir Alf Reynolds) the Under Sheriff (Mr C.E. Longmore) and the Sheriff’s Chaplain (Reverend Arthur Athill). They attended the service at All Saint’s Church, in State.
Business of Assizes was opened at 11 a.m. on Monday, 20th June, 1910. Before swearing in thirty learned men as jurors, His Lordships opening words dealt with any public concerns on the proposition that all future Assizes should be held in London; he also remarked on the changing method of swearing in the jurors at Assizes and said he had no qualm with those who wished to revert to the traditional method of kissing the bible. The Lord Chief Justice gave a short preface of the gravity of some the cases they would hear.
John Maxwell, aged 34, was indicted for “Feloniously wounding Isabella Crosby, with intent to do her serious bodily harm, at Watford on May 17th.”
In the witness box, Police-constable Brand stated that on the 17th of May, 1910, the daughter of Isabella Crosby called him in the street and he went to the address where the prisoner ha d lived with her mother.
When he entered the home, Pc Brand found the prisoner to be drunk and was holding a knife in his hand. Brand was threatening “to do away with her,” meaning Isabella and Maxwell threatened to do it another time if he couldn’t do it now.
Pc Brand disarmed John Maxwell. Pc Brand said the woman was lying on the floor, her mouth was bleeding and she had other injuries. Isabella was taken into police custody for her own safety whilst her partner John Maxwell was arrested.
The brother of John Maxwell, whose name was not published in the Hertfordshire Mercury, corroborated his brother’s version of events, stating that on the day in question; Isabella was drunk and had fallen over.
Pc Hewitt was next in the witness box and he corroborated Pc Brand’s version of events.
Dr G.F. Smith tended to Isabella Crosby at the police station. Dr Smith said Isabella had injuries in the way of bruising to her arm, her elbow and her head. Some of the bruising was more than twenty-four has at the time of his examination.
The Judge, Lord Alfreton, said he did not have the power to reduce the charge against John Maxwell to one of unlawful wounding and the whole case was based on evidence given by three people, who were all drunk at the time of the incident.
It was on the basis of the Judge’s comments that the jury dismissed the charges against John Maxwell.
The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Alfreton, turned to John Maxwell, who was still standing in the dock and said he was fortunate the jury were not aware of his past history or the outcome of the case might have been somewhat different. The Judge gave John Maxwell a serious warning as to his future conduct.