INVENTOR KEELY IN JAIL
SENT TO PRISON FOR REFUSING TO OBEY THE COURT.
The New York Times - 11/18/1888
PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 17.-Inventor John W. Keely was sent to Moyamesing Prison by Judge Finletter this afternoon for contempt of court. The contempt charged is that Keely disobeyed the order of the court issued April 7, 1888, instructing him to "operate and explain the mode of operation" of the "Keely motor," so that experts appointed by the court might report as to the similarity of the machine of 1809, which Bennett C. Wilson claims to have bought of Keely, and the present "Keely motor." When Common Pleas Court No. 3 was called to order at 10 o'clock Rufus E. Shapley, counsel for Bennett C. Wilson, addressed Judge Finletter and asked that judgment be entered on the order issued on Saturday last adjudging Keely guilty of contempt. The Judge then entered judgment on the order after explaining that the delay was caused by some misunderstanding as regard the practice.
"I now apply for a writ of attachment compelling Keely to appear in court at once," said Mr. Shapley.
Judge Finletter granted the request, and an hour later, after having passed through the Prethonotary's office, an attachment was placed in the hands of Deputy Sheriff James B. Pattison. Deputy Sheriff Pattison was about to start for Keely's residence and workshop when a communication was sent to the Sheriff saying, that the inventor was not at his home or workshop, but was in the immediate neighborhood of the Court House. The vicinity of the Court House was scoured, but inventor Keely could not be found. The time passed and the clock in the tower struck 1, but the Sheriff's officers did not appear with Keely. Shortly after 1 o'clock Judge Finletter adjourned the court until 1:30 o'clock. Ten minutes before the court was again called to order Keely, who appeared to be laboring under suppressed excitement but walking erect, entered the court room accompanied by Joseph J. Murphy, one of his counsel. The pair quietly occupied chairs at the bar of the court and walted for Judge Finletter's appearance.
The Judge called the court to order promptly at 1:30 o'clock. Mr. Murphy then addressed the Judge, saying that Mr. Keely, after hearing of the issuing of the attachment, had expressed his wish to appear in court without the service of the writ and to defend himself against the charges preferred against him by Wilson, which he would do in a written statement. Mr. Keely, then arose, took off his overcoat, and kissed the book, when he was addressed by Judge Finletter, who said:
"You have been brought into court on an attachment for contempt in not obeying an order of the court. You now have an opportunity to purge yourself of the contempt, or show cause why you should not be dealt with as the courtshould deem proper. What have you to say?"
Keely then said that he had done everything in his power to obey the mandates of the court and he considered his line of conduct that which had been defined for him by the court. He then read a long statement, which he declared was true in every particular, giving an account of his interviews with the experts, who, he said, were hostile to him and unable, though prejudice, to make a fair report regarding the motor. He claimed to have obeyed all orders of the court and disclaimed any intention to show any disrespect to the court.
Judge Finletter did not stop a moment to consider the statement or the plea, but recited in a low tone his decree, which he appeared to have been prepared during the reading of Keely's statement. The decree ordered that "the said John W. Keely shall the commited to the county prison to be there kept and confined in custody until he shall have purged himself or said contempt and until he shall have been legally discharged from said contempt." Keely was standing directly in front of the judge, but could not hear the left ear was toward the speaker, and listened attentively, his face bearing a look of suspense and anxiety. When the judge had concluded the decree Keely appeared to be dazed and remained standing until his counsel, Mr. Murphy, requested him to sit down. Mr. Murphy immediately sent word of the nature of the decree to Wayne MacVeagh, Keely's senior counsel, and waited until the Court Clerk made out the commitment, which was handed to Deputy Sheriff J. Pattison.
Mr. Murphy did not appear greatly chagrined by Judge Finletter's action, but said he thought before the hearing that the Judge would discharge Keely. He compared the inventor to a lamb being led to the slaughter. Keely left the court room in the custody of Deputy Sheriff Pattison, and the start was made for the county prison. The pair went out the back way into independence-square, followed by a dozen pairs of eyes of the inorbdly curious court lounfers, Keely leading the way, with Deputy Sheriff Pattison in the rear. The two men walked out Sansom-street to Ninth, where they got a carriage and were driven to the county prison.
An hour after his commitment Keely occupied cell 150 on the third floor of the prison. The cell, 9 feet wide by 14 feet long, is carpetless, not differing in any respect from the cells ocupled by the other prisoners. Keely's counsel will immediately attempt to get him released on a write of habeas corpus. [The New York Times, November 18, 1888]
See Law Suit wherein Keely was sued by Bennett C. Wilson to reveal proprietary information about his work; did so according to original court order; refused to do so when too much was later ordered to be done and revealed; confined for contempt for failing to obey court order; spent one night in jail; released the next day when said commitment was reversed.
Bennett C. Wilson
Keely in Contempt of Court
Keely in Contempt of Court2
Keely Motor Company
Keelys Sunday in Jail
The Keely Motor Experts