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THE COURTS.—TO-DAY.

SUPREME COURT.-CIVIL SITTINGS. (Before His Honor Mr Justice Williams.) WJ.NMILL Y. OALLIE. A suit to test the validity of the will of the late John Gallic. Mr J. F. M. Fraser for plaintiff; Mr F. li. Chapman for defendant. Mr Fraser proceeded to address the ■Court, premising that he intended to submit an analysis of the facts of the case to the best of his ability, and then quote authorities iu support of the line of argument that ho would adopt. He would try to cut hia address as snort as possible, "but there was the evidence of the large number of witnesses that had been examined, and it must take him considerable time to analyse it. But first he would submit the proposition thac when once a testator is shown to suffer under a mental derangement the burden of proof attaches to the party nropouuding the will—which iu the present case was his learned friend's jparty. Counsel proceeded to contrast the early and later histories of the deceased Gallie as was to be gathored from the evidence, and said that the •vidence as to the earlier stage was that Gallic was then a man who was strong, of Active habits, and of a close disposition—in fact, he might be said to be greedy in j regard to money, and niggardly to- ( wards even his wife. He was a j man who was jealous of hia rights, or his imaginary rights, to almost the verge ef eccentricity, and he was a man who was fond of litigation—he actually courted it, indeed. He was in the early days, then, •vidently a man of more than ordinary intelligence. But he was a man who could always "t-.ke a glass," and it appeared that he gradually gave way to drink. With that picture of Gallie's earlier days in Dunedin, when he was a man in the prime of life—being about forty-four years of age—let them contrast the picture of him as depicted in later days : ho had become a broken-down man, his chronic difficulty of speech had increased, and almost the whole of his mental faculties had disappeared. Indeed, his whole mode of life, of thought, and of temperament had changed, and no more striking evidence as to his changed condition was given than was contained in his sufferance of the presence of the man •George Hartley Walker in the midst of his 'family. Tso evidence went to show that •Gallic was almost an eye-witness to his wife's adultery with Walker, yet he ; had come to such a condition of mind that he had lost all power •of resentment and remained perfectly ■passive in his own house. There oould be no doubt that Gallie had become actually reduced to a state of absolute childishness, ■or imbecility, or dementia—whatever they pleased to call it. As to the comparative "value of the family evidence, counsel took it Jthat the witnesses on behalf of Mrs Gallie might fairly be termed biassed witnesses. Coming to the evidence of Mrs Gallie, oonnsel would frankly confess that she had the best of him when he had her under examination—on not one siDgle point did ■he contpadiot herself. Time after time he led her up to the brink of an incriminating answer, and saw that answer actually quivering on her lips—when ■he would suddenly subside into the subterfuge "I don't remember." However, counsel knew that the evidence of his own witnesses discredited Mrs Gallie, and indeed proved her to be an absolutely discreditable witness. The other witnesses on her side all followed on the same line, but he would deal with their evidence in due course, and at tho outset ho would say that he proposed in commenting on the evidence to avoid the use of strong comment, which he felt would not assist his case. Counsel then proceeded to deal in txtemo with the ovidenco, stating that he had, for the purpose of convenience, arranged the evidence under successive heads, and that the first head that he had to take in haud was the position of George Hartley Walker in connection with the case. This case was resumed at 10.30 a.m. today, Mr Fraser continuing his address on behalf of plaintiff. Counsel again took up the question of Mrs Gallie's credibility, and proceeded to comment on those portions of her evidence in which she repudiated the idea that Gallie had ever been ill long prior to hia death, although the opposite had been clearly proved by witnesses on not only plaintiffs side, but on Mrs Gallie's side also. The3e all testified that Gallie had had a " stroke" or some similar disablement years before. The only thing that Mrs Gallie would admit was that she used to keep him muddled with drink in order to prevent him going out. That "stroke," which befell him somewhere about the year 1860 or 1861, undoubtedly formed the tnrning point in Gallie's mental condition. There was not a shadow of doubt that prior to that Gallie was of a strong eharacter.

His Honor agreed that that had been clearly established.

Counsel continued that Mrs Gallie refused to admit that Gallie was in any way •different mentally in later years from his condition in their early married days. In view of the important fact that Mrs Gallia was the only eye-witness to the signature to the will her credibility formed the turning point in the case, and counsel submitted that he had clearly shown that not one particle of reliance could be placed on her evidence. That being so the gravest suspicion was thrown on the will on that ground alone. Next, as to Gallie's business habits, his love of liquor, and his fondness for money, counsel analysed the evidence, contrasting that given for plaintiff with that of the other side. With reference to Gallie's having the constant possession of money counsel said that young John Gallie said that he often saw his father with money, but in cross-examination admitted that he had not seen him with a LlO-note after 1861. Coming to the manner of Gallie's speech, there was beyond a doubt an impediment that prevented strangers from understanding him, though the members of his family might, from being accustomed to him, have no difficulty in understanding him. Mrs Gallie, however, had ■worn that Bhe had never had to explain to strangers what her husband might be saying, while as a matter of fact several witnesses —including some of Mre Gallie'B ownproved that she had on various occasions had to do so.

His Honor remarked that there seemed to be little occasion for counsel to comment on the manner of Gallie's speech-it could hardly be doubted that there was a thickness in his speech that rendered it not easy to understand him ; but the exact degree of his intelligibility depended on the perceptive faculties of those who were listening to him. He did not think that the point could be brought to more than this—that it was difficult for strangers to understand Gallie.

Mr Fraser eaid that he would then pro- j eeed to the matter of Gallie's speech. Evidence for Mrs Gallie was given that Gallie used of late years to read the evening paper and discuss its contents, and especially the leading articles, with his family and with visitors. He used aho to talk about peoplo he had known in the earlier days, and also abont the late James Macandrew, for whom he had a great admiration. His alleged conversations with the bailiff Brown in connection with the Pritcbard-Roilham case, the comparative merits of English and Scotch poets, and the then recently established woollen factory at the Kaikorai, were also touched on, but counsel submitted that from the evidence on plaintiff's side, Gallie could not have been in the intelligent mental itate necessary to have discussed all these matters rationally. In concluding his comments on this branch of the evidence, eounsel submitted that the result of that evidence was that it was abundantly clear that Gallie, after the " stroke," was a man who was incapable of carrying on a connected conversation. Counsel would claim that he had proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt, and that if the other side sought to in any shape or form provo that Gallie's mental capacity was good they had utterly and hopelessly failed. He would now proceed to deal with • Gallie's physical appearance, and in doing so he proposed to give a digest of the evidence on that point. His Honor said he did not think there was much doubt as to Gallie's general appearance all the witnesses admitted that he shuffled when walking, and that there was a , want of ( exprejßsiop on \Sb feck. They all agr'eVd that be

ahn filed and held his head down when walking; also that there was a Blight dribble at the mouth. There was no conflict of ovidence as to his lookiDg very feeble generally and as to his looking silly to anyone seeing him for the first time—he was a man who would be considered a feeble and silly old man by one who looked at him for the first time. It seemed unnecessary to go over the evidence on this point, because there was practically no conflict of evidence on it, and because the point was comparatively unimportant. Mr Fraser said that be would then pass over that point, after submitting that young | John Oallie had told a deliberate untruth in connection with it, inasmuch as he swore that ho never saw any difference in his father's -walk or any peculiarity in his habits. | With reference to Gallie's eating habits, it had been shown that he used to 1 cram his food into his mouth with his fingers in such ft manner aa to idmost choke himself ; while as to smoking, it was proved that he used to stick a piece of uncut tobacco in his pipe and try to li"ht it. Lvdia Ludford had given evidence on these two points, and counsel submitted that she was a witness of absolute truth. In connection with his eating it had also been shown that he used to be given a pannikin of food in the back yard and have the door slammed in his face if ho went up to it. Counsel claimed that be had proved that Lydia Ludford was the witness of truth, that he had proved this beyond gainsay, and that his learned friend would have a hopeless task if he tried to challenge her evidence. He (counsel) submitted that he was showing to demonstration Gallie's gradual mental and pnysioal deterioration. (Left sitting]. i

RESIDENT MAGISTRATE'S COURT.

(Before Messrs W. A. Moaley and J. L. Ross, Justices,) F. Laurenson v. James Scott. —Claim, L2 163 9d, for goods supplied. Mr James for plaintiff, for whom judgment was given by default. Dinah Hicken v. James Burt. Claim, LlO 3->, rent of a cottage at Mornington, at 7s per week. Mr Wilkinson for plaintiff.— Judgment by default.

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https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/ESD18890613.2.23

Bibliographic details

THE COURTS.—TO-DAY., Issue 7932, 13 June 1889

Word Count
1,834

THE COURTS.—TO-DAY. Issue 7932, 13 June 1889

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