Sunday, August 04, 2013

"while that constitutional guarantee must be observed..."

   "Under the constitutional guarantee of the "right of every citizen to keep and bear arms in defence of himself and the government," an evil has arisen to which I invite your especial attention--while that constitutional guarantee must be observed; the abuse of that right is liable to prosecution and punishment. If, for instance, the "arms" are used for the purpose of making an assault, with the intent to inflict upon the person of another a bodily injury, within the distance which such arms will carry, or to put him in fear, or to compel him by fear or threats to obey an unlawful order or command, where no considerable provocation appears, or where the circumstances of the assault show an abandoned and malignant heart, then, in any such case, the offender is liable to indictment and punishment. The privilege is given him alone for protection; not for infringement upon the rights of others.--Judge [William Thompson] Howell*, U.S. District Court, Charge to the Grand Jury of the First Judicial District, at Tucson, May Term, A.D. 1864.

[Arizona Miner, Prescott, Arizona, Wednesday June 22, 1864. Volume I. Number 7. Pg. 1]
* - William Thompson Howell, July 8, 1810 – April 3, 1870, was an American jurist and politician. Born and educated in New York, the majority of his career was spent in Michigan were he held a variety of state offices. Howell also served as a judge in the newly formed Arizona Territory where he was a principal author of the territory's first legal code, the "Howell Code".

   Howell began his political career in 1840 when he was appointed district attorney for Hillsdale County. This was followed by his election to the Michigan Senate in 1843, a position he held through 1846. During his senate service, he became President pro tempore on January 6, 1845. Howell's senate service was followed by his becoming the presidential elector for Michigan's third district in 1848. In his role as elector, he voted for Lewis Cass.

   Howell was admitted to practice law in front of the Supreme Court of the United States in 1849. Among the causes he advocated were the right of married women to hold property in their own name, abolition of capital punishment, and the establishment of free public schools.

   With the establishment of the Republican Party, Howell left the Democratic Party. He served as a circuit court commissioner in 1854 and as a probate judge in 1855 and 1856. In 1857 he moved to Newaygo, Michigan and when Mecosta County was organized he became Mecosta County's first prosecuting attorney. Howell was elected to represent Newaygo County in the Michigan House of Representatives from 1861 through 1863. He was also Speaker pro-tempore for the 21st and 22nd legislatures.

   Following the creation of Arizona Territory, President Abraham Lincoln nominated Howell to become a judge for the new territory. His commission as Associate Justice to the Arizona Territorial Supreme Court passed on March 10, 1863. Howell then traveled with Governor John N. Goodwin's party to new territory. Howell was assigned to Arizona's first judicial district, an area encompassing all of Arizona south of the Gila River and east of the 114th meridian west, and left the temporary capital at Fort Whipple for Tucson, Arizona on February 3, 1864.

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