Health Editor’s Note: It appears you can get justice, even if you are already long dead….Carol
The Courtroom That Literally Relitigated History
By April White/Smithsonianmag.com
On March 1905, San Francisco’s police commissioners hauled in chief George W. Wittman to answer charges that he had allowed gambling to flourish in the city’s Chinatown. It was a scandal; some suspected he was accepting bribes to turn a blind eye to the fantan parlors and lottery games that thrived on the streets he had first walked as a patrolman 24 years earlier.
After a lengthy hearing, the commissioners, by a vote of 2 to 1, found Wittman guilty of neglect of duty and incompetence. The defendant was to be immediately dismissed from the force. He jumped to his feet to protest his innocence. “Never while I have been in the department have I been guilty of one wrongful act,” he declared, still wearing his uniform and his seven-pointed star. “I have tried to do my duty in every way possible.”
But Wittman’s words fell on deaf ears. “There was no response to this valedictory,” the San Francisco Examiner reported. “The commissioners looked bored.”
It would be 70 years before a San Francisco judge heard Wittman’s appeal and pronounced that the disgraced chief of police—by then long dead—had been “cheated by history.”