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Legal Aspects

There were several attempts to bring the organizers of the deportation to trial, both on criminal charges and in civil suits. After the Supreme Court ruled that the Bisbee Deportation was not under federal jurisdiction, the Cochise County Attorney began to gather evidence for a state criminal trial. In 1920, two hundred and ten Bisbee citizens were arraigned and charged with kidnapping. One defendant, Harry E. Wootton, a business owner who ran H.E. Wootton Hardware on Main Street, was named as a representative in the en masse trial.

In addition to the criminal trial, families of deportees instituted civil suits against a number of companies involved in the deportation. The Michael Simmons vs. The El Paso and Southern Railroad Company is one such civil suit.

Defense attorneys in both the civil and criminal trials used I.W.W. correspondence and publications as well as depositions about I.W.W. activities in other mining communities. These materials were used to demonstrate the serious threat which the I.W.W. posed to the safety of the citizens of Bisbee and the state of Arizona. The defense in the Arizona vs. Wootton criminal case argued that the deportation had been justified by the "law of necessity." That is, the I.W.W. was a threat to the community and a risk to a country at war, thus their deportation was justified. The jury agreed and acquitted the defendants. Realizing that they would not be successful in convicting any of the remaining individuals, the State declined to pursue additional trials.

The links below consist of I.W.W. correspondence and publications as well as depositions gathered for both the criminal and civil proceedings. There are also partial trial transcripts, a copy of the arguments for the "Law of Necessity" and a contemporary article opposing this as a legal argument.

  • Copy of the Typewritten Record from the case of The State of Arizona vs. H. E. Wootton featuring the testimony of the witnesses for the prosecution, as found in John D. Lawson, ed., American State Trials, Vol. 17. (St. Louis: Thomas Law Book Co., 1936), pp. 8-11.

  • Deposition No. 2364 of Thomas J. Sheehan, Maurice Klein, Philip James Barry, William A. Cahill, Frank J. Quinn, Walter L. Furbershaw, Russell H. Lutz, John W. Hughes, and Burley H. Wilder
    October 29, 1919
    UA Special Collections AZ 114 Box 2, folder 5
    These depositions were gathered for the Michael Simmons vs. The El Paso and Southwestern R.R. Co.

  • The Law of Necessity as applied in State of Arizona vs. H. E. Wootton, Bisbee I.W.W. Deportation Case (Date ?).
    UA Special Collections H9791 B621 L41.
    This post-trial publication contains excerpts from the trial and arguments by the defense on how the deportation was justified by the "law of necessity."

  • George Soule "Law and Necessity in Bisbee,"
    The Nation, Vol. 113, August 13, 1921.
    The author of this article criticizes the biased viewpoint presented in "The Law of Necessity as applied in State of Arizona vs. H. E. Wootton"