Now the second trial was a lot more contentious. The local lawmen were certain if Speed had not pistol whipped Case when he did, the other lawman would have drawn his gun and used it to kill. However it did not go that far. He was knocked out first and dragged off to jail. And when the second trial opened, a very capable lawyer hired at a high fee no doubt, Mr. Goodnight proceeded to hammer away at the prosecution's case bringing up all sorts of doubts and even a few witnesses for the defense who countered most everything the prosecution witnesses testified.
The mere fact that the marshal had mobilized a whole bunch of armed men then posted them not just at the courthouse but even in strategic positions in town such as the saloon roof was seized upon by Goodnight to show this was nothing more than a naked powerplay more about competition for local office than any real attempted murder case. He protested that it also was a tool of intimidation for the local jury and that his client could never get a fair trial in Kalispell.
Now that part, Judge Bryant squelched, telling everyone in no uncertain terms the trial was taking place 'here and now' and that he would guarantee it would be a fair one. The jurors took so long in their deliberations there were fears of a hung jury but again Judge Bryant sent a note into the jury room saying he would tolerate no 'hung jury nonsense' and to come up with a verdict or they'd be in that room til the cows came home.
Finally a decision was announced and there was silence in the courtroom as Judge Bryant asked the jury foreman for their verdict. It was a split one, guilty on the count of causing a public disturbance but.........non guilty in the far more serious offense of assault on an officer of the law. Once the judge had gaveled the courtroom quiet as both sides partisans had exploded either in glee or disgust, Judge Bryant announced he was fining Case Steelgrave $100 dollars and his stay in jail so far already negated any further jail time. The man was free to leave upon payment of the fine. Being the Steelgraves, such a sum was easy to cover and he was out in literally minutes.
His duties finished in this town, Harland Bryant went back to the hotel, ate a hearty meal, then packed to leave. There were other towns, other cases awaiting his presence, such was the life of a circuit judge.
Kalispell was the scene of two momentous trials in the span of less than a week that first week of June. The first one involved the two bank robbers who had been captured in the act of trying to rob the town's bank. During the violence which erupted, one of the local citizens was gunned down in cold blood. Three outlaws met their grim end too in the big shootout with the lawmen and other aroused citizens. So as trials go, this one was pretty much open and shut.
Judge Harland Bryant, the circuit judge, was known as a stern judge, a believer in law and order and for the two outlaws there could be no lenient treatment. Both men were tried together and their defense attorney could come up with nothing better than to convince them to plead guilty and throw themselves upon the mercy of the court. It proved to be a false hope.
The judge did not even need to retire to his chambers to ponder the sentence but, after giving the pair a stern lecture on law and order and the dire consequences of murdering an unarmed man and trying to shoot others, he promptly announced the two were to be hanged the very next day. There were some locals who said he acted a bit too fast, if he had put off the executions for a few more days, there might have been more publicity spread thru the territory and a bigger crowd would have attended - an economic benefit to the town of course. As it was a large crowd gathered about the hastily constructed scaffold to watch the criminal's demise. There was even some applause as the men dropped thru the trapdoors. However some with weaker constitutions found it a bit too much.
The pair weren't even cold yet when the saloon offered a special sale on drinks, they called it their Two for One deal and that establishment was soon packed with thirsty or bargain hunting customers. There was much talk about how one of the jaspers had cursed right up to the second he dropped to oblivion.
By darkness, the two were buried in unmarked graves and would soon be forgotten, their criminal depredations over. And a grim omen too for the one outlaw who had managed to escape.
"Ah so I could dine right here for breakfast, splendid," Harland was happy to hear it. As for cost of the meal, well that was no issue for him because the town itself would be paying for it. But it was good to know there was at least one other dining possibility in the small town.
"By the way, if you're looking for some entertainment, Kalispell is very limited. At the moment, there's a singer over at the Stardust Saloon and that's about it."
"Well, at least for tonight, I shall prefer to stay in and catch up on my sleep. Rest these weary bones from that long bumpy ride, you see," Harland pointed out.
Not knowing what else to say, Matt smiled, "Once again I hope you enjoy your stay."
"Thank you, I am not in town for my enjoyment but to do my duty to the territory of Montana and it's citizenry. Good day, Mr. Wentworth," Harland replied then headed up the stairs behind the bell boy.
"Ah so you are one of the local council. Well, you seem well suited for it. Good to hear!" Harland nodded happily, the day was going well and he was glad he could rest after the bumpy trip.
Mr. Wentworth proceeded to inform him about the hotel's facilities, there could even be a bath if he wanted it but he decided instantly to forego that for now. He then directed a bell boy to take his luggage and guide him up to the proper room. Harland was glad to let the lad do the carrying though it was really not heavy.
"Mr. Bryant, welcome to the the Belle and I hope you enjoy your stay. Is there anything else you would like to know?"
"Thank you, I rightly expect I will," Harland waited until the boy took the lead then moved to follow.
"Nothing at the moment....oh wait, do you serve breakfast or if not, is there a place in town that does? I do like me a hearty breakfast, sets the foundation for the day you know," he paused then to inquire.
"Indeed? Like two bulls in a pasture, huh?" Harland shook his head in disgust, "And both of them convinced they are in the right no doubt."
Wentworth turned to take a room key then handed it over,"Room 12 has a view of the street and a large, good bed."
"Sounds capital to me," Harland seemed quite satisfied, it was the bed he was concerned with not the view, he would be sleeping anyhow.
Wentworth sighed, "With Case Steelgrave in jail there's already been some trouble which the Marshal will probably tell you about. Case is running for county Sheriff and he's got some support especially with those who came here from Whitefish, so there might be more for you to do in the future."
"Yes I am aware of the current situation with Case Steelgrave. It was in the telegram though not appraised yet on the details. Probably for the best as I would prefer to preside over the case unbiased," Harland nodded.
"Oh, one other thing, Mr. Wentworth, bill this room to your town council. It is common practice for the community where the circuit judge is hearing cases to pay for his lodging and meals," he added cheerfully.
Harland set the pen back into it's proper stand then held out his hand for a formal handshake.
"Nice to meet you, Mr. Wentworth. I must say you have a magnificent looking place here. If the rooms are as nice as this lobby, I will be most impressed. Oh and Harland, Harland Bryant. You only need address me as your honour if we're in court. Hopefully you will never need to be in front of me in that setting," Harland addressed the man.
"No, I have been to Kalispell previously....about a little over a year ago now I believe. Sad case, sad case indeed. Seemed a farmer had up and murdered his own wife and his brother. Claimed the two were having a sordid affair and did them both in with a shotgun. That is no excuse though so jury found him guilty of double homicide and I had him hung. Shame about his two children though, orphans then. I had them sent on to Helena to a proper orphanage though, best I could do for the unfortunates."
Harland smiled as he had a ready answer, "You most certainly can. I am in need of a room for ....let us say a full week at least with the option for more."
"I am Harland Bryant, circuit judge Montana jurisdiction, and will be presiding over a few trials these next however many days. As you can well imagine, I do not have an exact idea just how long it will all take."
"Oh and I would prefer a large bed as I am one of those who toss and turn a lot in my sleep," he added.
With: Harland Bryant, Matt Wentworth, Open Location: Hotel When: Early May Time of Day: Midday
Harland Bryant stepped into the lobby of the hotel and looked around. It was a fine looking place alright, one he had heard good things about. Harland was not a fussy man but on these long road trips in his job as Montana circuit judge he did appreciate a comfortable mattress and a nice room for his repose. The board told him that the place served meals too and he certainly was hungry. But first things first, he needed to purchase a room.
He headed straight for the front desk and, setting down his suitcase, he gave the bell a good thump then waited for the clerk or whoever might be about. He was a patient man.
He was in Kalispell for some important trials. Some bank robbers who failed miserably in their attempt but took the life of an innocent local man and tried to kill others. Given they were caught red handed, it should be a mere formality and he'd have 'em swinging from the gallows. He had a reputation as a stern judge, he just believed in the Old Testament. Now the other case was more interesting. Apparently the defendant was a law officer. He would soon find out the details.
Mature Content: Not immediately
With: Harland Bryant, any officers of the law, lawyers Location: Municipal Building When: May 2, 1876 Time of Day: Midday
Harland Bryant had arrived once more in Kalispell, this was just one of many towns he frequented on a fairly regular basis given his duties as federal circuit judge. He had come by stage and, because he did not enjoy such rides despite being a frequent traveler on those vehicles, he was not in a good mood. Though there would be some (OK, many) who would say the man was seldom in a good mood.
At least this time his time here would be spent on some worthwhile cases, he was pleased enough for that. A very violent bank robbery attempt had been foiled by the local law but not before an innocent civilian had been murdered. Two of the robbers had been captured and now awaited a trial. And then there was a rather strange case to be presented on the docket too. It seemed one lawman had charged and arrested another one. In all his long years as a circuit judge Harland had yet to sit for a case such as this. At least it should be interesting.
His plan was to stop at the courthouse and law office to inform everyone of his arrival and set things going for an expedited set of trials in just a day or two. He was not one to dally about, he had other towns to go to. Oh and he would need to get a room at the local hotel. He actually liked that particular hotel, he always got the same suite. The rooms were clean and the food was satisfying. It even served alcohol and Harland was no teetotaler.
Sagas of the WIld West is a roleplaying game set in a fictionalized version of the town of Kalispell in Montana territory. Our stories begin in 1875 and are set against the backdrop of actual historical events.Sagas was inspired by the classic television and movie westerns. Our focus is on writing, storytelling and character development.
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