A whimsical look at life growing up in the small town of Waldron, Arkansas in the 1960s and 1970s, plus occasional observations from the present. Want to start at the very beginning? Click HERE.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

W.L. Tuck Beats The Rap

We're hopping into the Wayback Machine on this one...all the way back to 1876, when Waldron was a town of dirt streets and oxcarts.  I just happened to be perusing opinions from the Arkansas Supreme Court; I have absolutely no idea why, and came across this one.

On January 26th, 1876, an affidavit was made before the mayor of Waldron, charging that W.L. Tuck "did sell ardent and vinous liquors inside the corporation of Waldron, without first having obtained license, as required by an ordinance adopted by the town council of said town."

W.L. Tuck, undoubtedly feeling somewhat taken aback, denied the charge, but the unnamed mayor overruled young Mr. Tuck.  With this turn of events, Mr. Tuck, feeling more and more put upon, declined to answer any more of the mayor's questions.  Mr. Mayor, by this point no doubt equally puffed up, levied a fine of $25 on Mr. W. L. Tuck.

Well, it seems that W. L., nobody's fool, appealed to the Circuit Court.  A jury trial ensued, during which W. L. pled "Not Guilty."  But much to his dismay, the jury disagreed and found our young hero "Guilty," and the court fined W. L. again the sum of $25.

In order to convince the Court that they were, in fact, messing with the wrong chump, young W. L. moved for a new trial.  The Court overruled.  This did not sit well with W. L., and so he appealed to the Arkansas Supreme Court. 

"That," he undoubtedly said to someone, "will show them."

The Town of Waldron was able to establish at trial that on January 26th, 1876, W. L. Tuck did sell to A.J. Patrick, within the incorporated town of Waldron, one half-gallon of whiskey.  They also introduced the statute, which stated that anyone selling "ardent or vinous liquors" inside the city limits without getting a license first would be fined "a sum not exceeding $25."  The ordinance had been passed on January 5th, 1876, just three weeks before the dastardly act was committed. 

Our young Mr. Tuck was able to establish that a firm, of which he was a member, did in fact obtain a license to carry on the business of selling wines and liquors from the City of Waldron, as well as from the state, for the period of one year.  The license went into effect on August 25th, 1875.  He also established that the town of Waldron itself was not actually incorporated until November 6th, 1875.

Well, it turns out that, under Arkansas law, the act providing for incorporation of towns gave those towns the right to regulateor prohibit "ale and porter shops or houses, and public places of habitual resort for tipling and interperance."  Mr. Tuck was not charged with keeping a tipling house; he was charged with selling ardent and vinous liquors, namely a half-gallon of whiskey.  There was actually no provision in the law that allowed towns to require persons who wished to sell wines and liquors to obtain a license.

The ruling was that the Circuit Court must be reversed, and Mr. Tuck was to be discharged from further prosecution for the offense charged against him. 

He got to keep the $25.