Learning About America, Three States Plus One at a Time
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Texas Tidbits; Judge Roy Bean
The Law West of the Pecos
Other than Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett, Sam Houston and a handful of other famous Texans, perhaps none is quite as famous (infamous?) than the man who was self-anointed as "The Law West of the Pecos" - Judge Roy Bean. When it comes to separating fact from fiction regarding Phantly Roy Bean, Jr. (1825-1903), the line is, put mildly, blurred. It is said that Judge Bean held court in his saloon and passed sentence on defendants by bellowing, "Hang 'em first, then try 'em". Smithsonian Magazine by way of JudgeRoyBean.com further informs us "By Gobs! There was nothing judicious about Judge Roy Bean "Doffing his saloon apron, the grizzled barkeep dons a dirty alpaca coat, sits himself down behind the bar, draws a pistol and bangs for silence using the butt as a gavel. "Order, by Gobs! This honorable court is now in session, and if any galoot wants a snort before we start, let him step up to the bar and name his pizen." The good judge had never seen the inside of a law school. His only law book was the 1879 Revised Statutes of Texas. But the self-styled "Law West of the Pecos" knew how to hold court. There, in his Jersey Lilly saloon in the minuscule West Texas town of Langtry, Roy Bean doled out drinks and his own brand of justice for more than 20 years." You. Can't. Make. This. Stuff. Up. For this tale of Law West of the Pecos-style "justice", we go to desertusa.com : "One of Bean's most outrageous rulings occurred when an Irishman was accused of killing a Chinese worker. Friends of the accused threatened to destroy the Jersey Lilly if he was found guilty. Court in session, Bean browsed through his law book, turning page after page, searching for another legal precedent. Finally, rapping his pistol on the bar, he proclaimed, "Gentlemen, I find the law very explicit on murdering your fellow man, but there's nothing here about killing a Chinaman. Case dismissed." They say justice is blind. Could it be that Judge Roy Bean was blind to justice? You decide. You don't need my help. Here's a good, one page bio of Judge Bean. Like George S Patton said about some Russian general, "He may be a son of a bitch, but he's our son f a bitch". Thus it is with the Law West of the Pecos.