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As It Was: Lenient Justice of Peace Pities Offender’s Family

In 1917, a justice of the peace in Medford, Ore., had second thoughts after sentencing Bert
Rippey of Tolo, Ore., to 25 days in jail or a fine of $100 for selling salmon without a license.

Justice Taylor suspended the sentence when he learned that Rippey and his wife and two children were in “destitute circumstances.”

“I could not do otherwise,” Taylor said, adding, “Their home is even without any furniture and if I sent him to jail the wife and babies would suffer as would also an old man who lives with the family.”

Taylor said if the county or someone would take care of the Rippey family, “I am perfectly willing to revoke the sentence and send Rippey to jail, for he is an old offender who has had no regard whatever for the fish and game laws, and he should be punished, but I do not propose to punish the innocent babies and mother for his acts.”

Besides, the justice added, he had just received word from the fish and game warden that Rippey had obtained a license to sell fish.

Case closed.

Source: "Mail Tribune 100: Justice Taylor Suspends Fine Assessed Rippey." Mail Tribune, 28 May 2017 [Medford, Ore.] (originally published 28 May 1917), p. B1

Kernan Turner is the Southern Oregon Historical Society’s volunteer editor and coordinator of the As It Was series broadcast daily by Jefferson Public Radio. A University of Oregon journalism graduate, Turner was a reporter for the Coos Bay World and managing editor of the Democrat-Herald in Albany before joining the Associated Press in Portland in 1967. Turner spent 35 years with the AP before retiring in Ashland.