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Lake County Past: May 21

May 16, 1943

Hillman placed on peace bond

C.M. Hillman, former publisher of the Two Harbors Chronicle, was placed under a $500 peace bond by Judge Charles Wilkinson in municipal court in a trial in which D.O. Larsen had caused the arrest of Hillman on a charge of having threatened to smash Larsen's slot machines at the Keg and to have threatened to shoot him with the intent to kill.

Hillman, acting as his own attorney, at the opening of the trial sought to have Claus C. Monker removed from prosecuting the case on the ground he was not qualified to appear as prosecuting attorney. He cited the illegal setup in the appointment of an acting incumbent county attorney in Lake County and sought to show that by virtue of the resolution passed by the county board effecting this setup that Monker was nothing more than secretary to the acting incumbent county attorney. Hillman's attempt to place Monker on the witness stand to establish the facts was overruled by Judge Wilkinson.

Larsen, the star witness against Hillman, played the dual role of witness and court jester and had the audience, which packed the courtroom, in spasms of laughter, time and time again when on cross examination Hillman tried to make him admit ownership of illegal gambling devices and operation of them in his place of business at the Keg. Wilkinson on frequent occasions nearly broke his gavel and a blood vessel trying to maintain equanimity and dignity of his court and finally smashed down his gavel and ordered Larsen to answer a question put by Hillman, which he unequivocally refused to answer. Larsen's answer was, "I do not know." Monker played Larsen a close second in providing comedy for the court audience by continually interrupting the judge and the counsel for the defense.

By some strange coincidence Larsen's only witnesses suffer from auditory impairment, yet both testified they heard the defendant make threats to shoot Larsen. No blind men were placed on the stand to testify that the defendant was ever seen to have carried a gun.

Hillman's attorney in a peroration stating that at the age of 64, this was his first arrest or even the defendant in a civil action and that he had not so much as engaged in a fistfight in his life, moved for dismissal on the grounds the complainant had not submitted sufficient evidence to make a case. The motion was denied.

On cross examination, Hillman's attorney got Larsen so muddled that he declared he had heard so much about the threat to shoot him that he didn't pay any attention to it any more, whereupon the court audience went into paroxysms of laughter and Judge Wilkinson encountered in compelling Monker to show courtesy or respect for the dignity of the court, he conducted the arraignment with the finesse of a seasoned jurist.