Report from the Osborne Journal, May 1889:
JURY SYSTEM AT FAULT
There was a lynching bee at Lincoln Center one day last week. Pat Cleary, the victim, was convicted of killing a neighbor in 1888, and sentenced to 20 years in the penitentiary. His was taken to the supreme court and through a technicality in proceedings, remanded for a new trial. The last trial began on the 16th and lasted about two weeks, resulting a hung jury. Cleary then plead guilty to manslaughter in the 3rd degree and was sentenced by Judge Eastland to three years in the penitentiary. There was a very strong evidence that a bribe secured the hanging of the jury and public indignation was aroused. The people took the matter in hand, hung Cleary and came near doing the same to the juryman who, it was claimed had taken the bribe.
We are not an advocate of mob law, but it seems to us that while they were about it, it would have been entirely consistent and eminently beneficent to have strung up the man who received and who gave the bribe, and every person connected with the infamous proceeding. Lynch law is bad enough at the best, but this much can be said in behalf of the law abiding disposition of the people of Lincoln: They invoked the power of the law and found it prostrate and impotent to protect their most sacred interests before taking justice in their own hands. Not as much can be said in justification of the lynching that occurred in Topeka, the capital of the state, about the same time, but the two episodes occurring within a week of one another emphasize the fact that the laws in the courts of our state stand without the confidence or respect of the people. That the death penalty is never enforced is, to our mind, no part of the fault. The uncertainty of conviction arising from greater respect being to the technicalities than the spirit and the letter of the laws, a faulty jury system, practices of bribery, and lastly but not least, the probabilities of a convicted murderer who happens to have influential friends and relatives, being turned loose upon the community by the person of a political governor, are faults that lie nearer the root of the tree than non-enforcement of the death penalty, and they should be righted first.
Evidence is accumulating every day to show that J. P. Harmon committed willful perjury to get on the Cleary jury. Rev. B.F. McMillan is quoted as saying Harmon had expressed an opinion in the Cleary case; that he had carefully read all the testimony, and that it was very strong against Cleary. There are three other good citizens will if necessary, swear that Harman had discussed the Cleary case with them and expressed an opinion. In time we will know all about this thing.