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Spotlight masathead

February 21, 1935, Page 1


  Women Are Found Not Guilty
    Of Identical Charges;
      Dean Cosenza Testifies


  "Irrelevant Evidence Elicited,
    Civil Rights Challenged"
      States Defense Council

            Although the seven girls arrested for picketing Dean's Cafeteria were acquitted Saturday at the Magistrates Court by Judge Thomas F. Casey, the nine boys arrested with them on the same charge are still on trial. They are up before Judge John D. Mason at the Adolescents' Court, Smith and Schermerhorn Street.

            The boys are charged with disorderly conduct, but the testimony elicited by Assistant District Attorney Josephs seemed comparatively unrelated to the charge. The entire history of the labor dispute in Dean's Cafeteria, the "justness of the cause" for which the students worked, the right of students to picket, the right to freedom of speech, and assembly, in fact–"the Constitution and the NRA are on trial," said Samuel Pruner, attorney for the defense.

            The plaintiff, Joseph Schill, assistant manager of Dean's, testified that he would identify those students who had participated in the commotion in front of his establishment February 13 at one o'clock. He picked out nineteen persons from the crowd of students gathered in the court-room, who Mr. Schill said were participating in the commotion besides the nine boys being tried. Mr. Pruner proved, however, that all so indicated had not been present at that time. One girl had been at chapel; a second was trying out for a play in 72C; a third had been pupil teaching; one boy had been home in bed; another had been at the Registrar's office. These students were then asked why they were present in court. Eunice Kowalsky said that she was interested "in the administration of Justice." Ida Peretz admitted she had come to see a member of her metaphysics class tried.

            The defendants denied the charge that they had shouted, carried placards, or in any way interfered with entrance into or egress from the cafeteria. They also denied having sung "On the Picket Line," while picketing as stated by two police officers, and Harold Pincus, secretary of Brooklyn Cafeteria Owners Association.

            According to Mr. Puner, it seemed the charge had been changed from disorderly conduct to conspiracy or subversive activity. Such questions as the following were asked by the District Attorney! "Is it true that the National Student League had issued a call for mass picketing? Is it true that students had discussed the strike in Sorrell's Cafeteria and that Sorrell's had once had a strike?"

            "Is it true," asked the District Attorney, "that the activities of these students could be summarized in one word–Communism?"

            At this point, the counsel for the defense asked the judge to reprimand the District Attorney. Judge Mason refused to do this, but the last question was stricken from the record.

            When Charles Pischianz, strike chairman at Dean's, testified for the defense, the District Attorney attacked him on the question of his citizenship. He questioned him on the reasons for his discharge, (whether or not he had been drunk on the job), and on sundry other items which the defense counsel protested as "immaterial and irrelevant"

            Dean Mario E. Cosenza was subpoenaed as a witness. He testified that the National Student League had no official charter and had never applied for one. He also said that the Men's division Student Council had voted against support of the strike.

            Joseph Short, former owner of Dean's appointed by General Hugh Johnson to the Code Authority, testified as to the working conditions in the cafeteria. He contended that there had been no violation of the code.

            Mr. Shurl was the last witness. Court was adjourned until two o'clock yesterday. Continuing with Mr. Shurl's testimony, it was learned that although deductions made for an employee's laundry were lawful, the soiled uniforms had been handed from counterman to cook to busboy–each wearer paying the specified twenty-five cents.

            After the motion to acquit the defendants because of lack of evidence had been submitted by counsel, the judge reserved the right to postpone his decision until March 6. Mr. Puner, speaking for the press, said that the prosecution did not have "sufficient evidence to sustain the charges."

            One of the witnesses, Joseph Cohen, who testified as the National Executive Secretary of the National Student League, is the winner of the Union League club award for excellence in history. He was questioned as to the program and organization of the N.S.L. Mr. Cohen, arrested with twenty-three others on February 14, and 15 will be tried on March 12.


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May 20, 2004