Now, Your Honor, I shall discuss that more in detail a little later,
and I only say it now because my friend Mr. Savage--did you pick him for
his name or his ability or his learning?--because my friend Mr. Savage,
in as cruel a speech as he knew how to make, said to this court that we
plead guilty because we were afraid to do anything else.
Your Honor, that is true.
We have said to the public and to this court that neither the parents,
nor the friends, nor the attorneys would want these boys released. That
they are as they are. Unfortunate though it be, it is true, and those the
closest to them know perfectly well that they should not be released, and
that they should be permanently isolated from society. We have said it
and we mean it. We are asking this court to save their lives, which is
the last and the most that a judge can do.
We did plead guilty before your honor because we were afraid to
submit our cause to a jury. I would not for a moment deny to this court
or to this community a realization of the serious danger we were in and
how perplexed we were before we took this most unusual step.
I can tell your honor why.
I have found that years and experience with life tempers one's emotions
and makes him more understanding of his fellow man.
When my friend Savage is my age, or even yours, he will read his
address to this court with horror.
I am aware that as one grows older he is less critical. He is not
so sure. He is inclined to make some allowance for his fellow man. I am
aware that a court has more experience, more judgment and more kindliness
than a jury.
Your Honor, it may be hardly fair to the court, I am aware that
I have helped to place a serious burden upon your shoulders. And at that,
I have always meant to be your friend. But this was not an act of friendship.
I know perfectly well that where responsibility is divided by twelve,
it is easy to say:
"Away with him".
But, your honor, if these boys hang, you must do it. There can be
no division of responsibility here. You can never explain that the rest
overpowered you. It must be by your deliberate, cool, premeditated act,
without a chance to shift responsibility.