[Chattanooga Times, 3/13/1906]

Execution Date is Changed
Sheriff Had Two Orders Which Conflicted
Negro's Lawyers Again at Work Trying to Save Him.

After the question of jurisdiction had been thoroughly investigated yesterday it was decided by a large representation of the legal talent of this city that Judge Clark's order to Capt. Shipp commanding him to hold Ed Johnson for ten days pending an appeal to the supreme court of the United States did not supersede the order of Judge McReynolds commanding that Johnson be executed this morning.

In view, therefore, of a conflict of authority between the state and federal courts it was decided to consult with Gov. Cox on the situation and as a result Capt. Shipp last night received a telegram from the governor respiting Johnson's sentence and giving until next Tuesday, March 20, in which to make his appeal. The order of the governor is that Johnson must be hanged on that date unless some higher authority stays the execution.


It was a peculiar situation that confronted the sheriff yesterday. He had in his possession the order of Judge Clark that Johnson be held a prisoner for ten days from last Saturday. Yesterday afternoon the circuit court delivered to the sheriff a certified copy of the order of Judge McReynolds that Johnson be hanged at some time during the legal hours of today.

Yesterday morning the legal fraternity of the city became interested in the status of the case and some leading lawyers volunteered their opinions in the matter. All were agreed that Judge McReynolds' order remained paramount and that there was nothing in the finding of Judge Clark that meant a stay of execution on his own authority.


During the afternoon Judge McReynolds secured telephonic communication with Judge Clark and told him of the opinion of the lawyers here. Judge Clark coincided with the view that his order did not supersede that of the criminal court and said that the governor of the state was the proper authority to grant a respite. He advised Judge McReynolds to join in a request to the governor for a stay until March 20 in order that no person could accuse him of rushing Johnson to his death while an appeal to the court of last resort was pending. Judge Clark reminded Judge McReynolds of the fairness he had exercised in the case from the beginning and told him that such an act would be in accord with his former conduct.

During the morning Judge McReynolds had tried to get the governor by long distance telephone and had made an appointment for 6 o'clock last night. He had decided to ask the governor to relieve the delicate situation here and absolve the sheriff from the responsibility of judging as to which court order he would obey. In the meantime Judge Clark also communicated with Gov. Cox and it was agreed between the two judges that inasmuch as the attorneys for the negro had not taken the step to call on the governor as the conditions seemed to demand, they should ask for the respite.


At 6 o'clock last night Gov. Cox was reached. He listened to a statement of the situation and told Judge McReynolds that he would order a respite until next Tuesday. At the same time he was put in communication with Capt. Shipp and delivered an oral order to him to postpone the execution saying that documentary evidence of the order would be received in due time.

Later last night Capt. Shipp received the respite by telegram from Nashville and that settled the matter. It was a delicate and unusual position in which the sheriff found himself. He was convinced that he was subject to the order of the criminal court her and the execution would doubtless have taken place this morning had it not been for executive intervention.


The attorneys for Johnson applied to A. W. Brazelton yesterday afternoon for the record of Judge Clark's court in the case and he spent last night at work on the testimony. It is presumed from that fact that the case will be presented to the supreme court within a day or two. It is the last move for saving Johnson's life and the outcome will be watched with the most intense interest.

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