A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 17, 2009
“Not guilty, but return the horse” (Old West Justice)

The following joke is told under the title of “Old West Justice.” A horse is stolen from a very unpopular man. The jury returns a verdict of “Not guilty, but return the horse.” The judge doesn’t accept the verdict and asks the jury to deliberate again. The jury returns with a new verdict of “Not guilty, and he can keep the horse.”

The joke is cited in print from at least 1989 and appears to be popular in Canada and not Texas.


Afterhours Inspirational Stories
Old West Justice
by: Author Unknown, Source Unknown
A man in the Old West was being tried for stealing a horse.

You need to remember that stealing a horse in the Old West was a very grave and serious offense. A person could be hanged if found guilty of such a deed.

It so happened that the man whose horse had been stolen had always made it a point to get the best of any person with whom he had any dealings. He had never tried to do anything good for anyone other than himself. Consequently, the man whose horse had been stolen didn’t have a single friend in the entire town. The case was tried and presented to the jury.

The evidence against the accused man was pretty strong. After about thirty minutes of deliberation, the jury returned to the court chambers.

“Gentlemen of the jury, have you reached a verdict?” The judge asked. The chairman of the jury stood up. “Yes we have, your honor,” he replied.

“What is your verdict?” inquired the judge.

There were a few moments of silence and then the chairman spoke. “We find the defendant not guilty if he will return the horse.”

After the judge had silenced the laughter in the courtroom, he admonished the jury. “I cannot accept that verdict. You will have to retire until you reach another verdict,” said the judge. The jury went back into their room to deliberate toward another verdict. No member of the jury had any particular liking for the man whose horse had been stolen. At one time or another he had gotten the best of each of them. About an hour passed before the jury could reach another verdict. They re-entered the courtroom. They took their place in the jury box and the courtroom grew silent.

“Gentlemen of the jury,” began the judge, “have you reached a verdict?” The chairman of the jury stood up.

“Yes we have, your honor,” he replied. “What is your verdict?” asked the judge.

The courtroom was totally silent. You could have heard a pin drop. Everyone eagerly awaited the verdict. The chairman read the decision reached by the twelve good men, tried and true.

“We find the defendant not guilty, and he can keep the horse!”

The courtroom burst into laughter!

Moral of the story: If you spend your life trying to take advantage of others, never caring about them in any way except what you can get from them or what they can do for you, you will end up a loser, like the man who lost his horse.

If you desire a friend, then be a friend. If you desire for other people to help you, then help other people. If you desire justice at the hands of others, then practice justice toward them.

Regardless of what you may think, the old Biblical admonition is true. We do reap what we sow.

26 March 1989, Toronto Star, “The charge is dismissed—but give back that $35” by Peter V. MacDonald, pg. D5:
The jury returned soon with a new decision: “We find the accused guilty—but he can keep the horse.”

Google Books
The Best of Al Clouston :
A Collection of Uncle Al’s Best Yarns from the stateheads of Newfoundland

By Al Clouston
St. John’s, Nfld.: Al Cloustn Publications
1994
Pg. 70:
GUILTY ONE WAY OR THE OTHER
The following humorous incident did take place but not in Newfoundland.

In June I attended the “Citizen of Year” Dinner at the Newfoundland Hotel. The appointing of this honourable individual is always sponsored by the J.C.’s. This year their special speaker for teh day was the President of the Bar Association of Canada.

He told a story about a court case which took place in Western Canada. It is so similar to a Ted Russel story that it is worth recording.

A man stole a horse. The individual from whom the horse was stolen was rather a detestable character which nobody care much about. The trial was held before a jury and the judge told them there was no doubt about the verdict they should bring in.

The jury was only out an hour when they returned.

Judge: have you reached a verdict?

Foreman; Yes, your honour. Not guilty, but the accused must return the horse.

Well, the Judge was furious and he sent the jury back out. In a very short time the Jury returne again.

Judge: Have you reached a verdict?

Foreman: Yes, your honour. Guilty, but the accused can keep the horse.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Thursday, December 17, 2009 • Permalink