Take It To San Francisco’s Court of Historical Review and Appeals

The headline of the San Francisco Call details the ouster of police chief George Wittman (Newspapers.com screenshot / Illustration by Shaylyn Esposito)

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.”


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  1. For many years my Uncle and family lived in San Leandro across the bay, He had his office in downtown San Francisco. In about 1941 when our family drove out there in a 1931
    Chevy, as Dad was driving down Market St. he felt a car pushing on his bumper; it was his brother driving a new 1941 Chrysler New Yorker Convertible. If they could see what has happened today they would likely cry. Part of all this is due to the gross prejudice against legalizing drugs as liquor was legalized and regulated earlier. In fact, why not legalize and regulate all the vices? Isn’t everyone doing it anyway? Wouldn’t regulation be safer for all?

    • Of course we all know why the government refuses to legalize street drugs; then they couldn’t make all those billions or trillions of dollars selling them on the black market to finance all their evil secret activities against us lowly citizens and so many others around the world.

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