Back in February 2020, I had planned a research trip to the Broome County Clerk’s office to look at a particular law case. But the March sojourn was postponed for some reason.
The story of the trial appeared in the Binghamton Press, starting on 27 Oct, p. 5. “Negro minister to go on trial.” “The Reverend Raymond Cone, negro minister, charged with being the father of a child born out of wedlock of Miss Agatha Walker, 25 years old*, of 14 East street, a teacher in this Sunday school**, will go on trial in Children’s Court tomorrow before County Judge Benjamin Baker.”
In late September, my friend Cee and I went to the clerk’s office, and I was assured that the information I sought would NOT be there. This is contrary to what I was told 19 months earlier on the phone. In any case, we could not find it. We were directed to the Family Court office.
The person I talked with said that the boss was away, but that I could provide a narrative. So I wrote a request for the trial transcript. I was told back at the county clerk that I might well be denied because Family Court records are sealed for reasons of privacy.
Thank God it was Thursday
But we were given a glimmer of hope by a lawyer who gives advice once a week in the county courthouse. He pointed to 22 NYCRR 205.5, Privacy of Family Court records.
Frankly, I’m not seeing it in the text, but he had researched a similar case in June 2021. He explained that my request could be denied because Family Court records are sealed. But I could appeal to a state appellate judge. I might note, for instance:
1. All of the parties – Raymond Cone, Agatha Walker Green, and the child, my father, Les Green, are all deceased.
2. I am directly related to the participants.
3. Many of the details, including the conclusion by Judge Baker in January 1927 that Rev. Cone was acquitted, was widely known because it was published in the Binghamton newspapers.
* She was actually 24, and 23 when the event occurred on January 6, 1926
** I understand she headed the Sunday school