SIDNEY — As part of the Bicentennial event series, local historian and attorney Rich Wallace will present a program on interesting and humorous court room tales. It is set to take place in the Common Pleas Courtroom of Judge James Stevenson on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019, beginning at 7 p.m.
The courthouse was the center of entertainment and public discourse before the age of radio, television and the internet. The courthouse was the finest building in most small towns. It was considered the temple of justice, but it was also truly the center of community life in many ways. Sidney’s courthouse was certainly no exception.
Wallace will initially take the audience through the history of the courthouse and its role in Shelby County history. He will explain how the good and bad of people’s lives were put on public display for better or for worse. Hundreds of citizens packed the courtroom for the most ordinary of cases. The next day’s edition of the Sidney Daily News carried the dramatic testimony word for word.
As many know, there was a public hanging on the square after a trial. What was the real story behind the crime and how close did the jury come to acquitting the defendant? Most realize the importance of our Monumental Building and its role as Ohio’s first Civil War memorial hall. The story behind the scene involves a lawsuit where the veterans were actually evicted from their building.
Many famous trials had twists and turns which rivaled today’s plots on daytime television. Wallace will share some of these stories as well.
The Good Old Days? People often hear how much better it was “when I grew up.” The speaker will challenge that assumption by discussing periods of history where crime and terror gripped our community.
Even in the midst of tragedy, humor always finds its way into our history. Some of those stories, such as the Keystone Cops-like jail escapes from the old jail, will be told as well.
The program is being sponsored by the Shelby County Bar Association and is free and open to the public as part of the Bicentennial celebration.