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wolfdancer
05-25-2007, 01:50 AM
Grand Jury Acts After Judge Reads Genesis on the Creation of Man Action Under New Statute Schoolroom Is Declared a Place to Develop Character, Not to Violate Laws Trial Is Set for July 10 Science Association Plans to Aid Defense -- Talk of Stadium to Beat 20,000
Special to The New York Times


Nashville, Tenn., May 25 -- John T. Scopes, young Dayton (Tenn.) high school teacher, tonight stands indicted for having taught the theory of evolution to students attending his science classes in violation of a law passed by the Tennessee Legislature and signed by the Governor on March 21, 1925. The date for this trial has been fixed for July 10 at Dayton. The hearing of the case will bring many notables to the little mountain town, including William Jennings Bryan for the prosecution and Clarence Darrow of Chicago and Dudley Field Malone of New York for the defense.

The indictment, returned by the Grand Jury convened in special session, was returned after evidence by Walter White, Superintendent of the Dayton public schools, and eight high school students had been heard by jurors. The session followed a charge by Judge John T. Raulston, who interpreted the law and included in his presentation for the reading of the first book of Genesis from the King James version of the Bible, in which the story creation is detailed.

The specific charge of the indictment is that on April 24, 1925, John T. Scopes, "did unlawfully and willfully teach in public schools of Rhea County, Tenn., which said schools are supported in part and in whole by the public school funds of the State, certain theory and theories that deny the story of Divine creation of man as taught in the Bible and did teach thereof that man descended from a lower order of animals." The penalty prescribed in the law for such violation is a fine from $100 to $500.

Telling the jurors that if the statute had been violated, their duty was to find the indictment, Judge Raulston pointed out that it was not within their province to inquire into the policy or the wisdom of the legislation.

Law's Wisdom Not Jurors' Concern

"The policy and wisdom of any particular legislation addresses itself to the legislative branch of Government, provided the proposed legislation is within constitutional limitations," he said.

"Our Constitution imposes upon the judicial branch of the Government the interpretation of the statutes and upon the executive departments the execution of the law.

"The statute involved in this investigation provides that a violation constitutes only a misdemeanor, and in so declaring I make no reference to the policy or constitutionality of the statute, but to the evil example of the teacher disregarding constitutional authority in the presence of those whose thought and morals he is to direct and guide. To teach successfully, we must teach both by precept and example.

"The school room is not only a place to develop the power of thought, but also a place to develop discipline, power of restraint and character. If a teacher openly and flagrantly violates the law of the land in the exercise of his profession, this example cannot be wholesome upon the undeveloped mind and naturally tends to cerate and breed a spirit of disregard for good order and a want of respect for necessary discipline and restraint in our body politic.

Must Ignore Attitude of Accused

"In this investigation, you should not be concerned as to the attitude of the accused as to whether or not he is willing or unwilling to be indicted. If an accused is to be exonerated of guilt because of his having expressed a willingness to be indicted, this would afford a great avenue of escape for the guilty. What you and I as court officials are vitally interested in is to ascertain whether or not the law has been violated.

Now gentlemen of the jury, it is your duty to investigate this alleged offense without prejudice or bias and with open minds, and if you find there has been a willful violation of the statute you should promptly return a true bill. Otherwise, you should return 'no bill.' [text unreadable]

Dayton began today to set the stage for the dramatic trial, which will bring thousands of visitors to the little city among them some of the eminent educators of the nation, who are interested on both sides of the question involved. "The young teacher faces the trial with the belief, he said, after the indictment that a principle which must be decided upon sooner or later, is involved and that it is necessary that the teachers of the State have the interpretation of the courts before the opening of the next school term.