100 years ago in Spokane: Defense attorneys argue newspaper bias in Van Skike manslaughter trial

Attorneys for W.J. Van Skike used a modern-sounding strategy for contesting his conviction for manslaughter.

They blamed the media.

The attorneys claimed, in an affidavit, “that the verdict of guilty was brought about by a newspaper campaign against careless auto drivers and by the actions of reporters who attended the trial.” In particular, they charged that reporters sat at the prosecutor’s table and held improper conversations with both judge and jury during the trial.

All three reporters named in the affidavit denied talking to judge or jury or otherwise behaving improperly. One Chronicle reporter admitted that he sat at one of end of the prosecutor’s table, but it was

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