CROW, Samuel Eugene

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Judge Samuel Crow, Santa Barbara

CROW, Samuel Eugene (1860-1940) was the Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge who ordered the partitioning of Santa Cruz Island in 1920 as a result of the Caire family litigation. Judge Crow appointed surveyor Frank Flournoy to undertake the task which was completed four years later in 1924. The partitioning resulted in the creation of seven separate parcels on Santa Cruz Island which were then assigned to family members.

On November 22, 1920 island superintendent Clifford McElrath reported “he would ask Judge Crow to call a special session of the grand jury” to get an injunction to clear off the fishermen at island camps in order to stop them from illegally poaching sheep.

Judge Crow retired in 1932 after 26 years as a judge. He died in 1940 at age 80 in his home on East Victoria Street.

[NOTE: Helene Caire told Channel Islands historian, Marla Daily, that when the Caire family was going through its litigation in Santa Barbara over Santa Cruz Island, Judge Crow slept through many of the proceedings.]

In the News~

August 28, 1900 [SBMP]: “Abalone thieves put no defense and were bound over. S. E. Crow is their attorney. The preliminary examination of William Gerald and Frank Reina were held before Justice Wheaton yesterday on the charge of Grand Larceny. They were both held to answer to the superior court on the same charge. Gerald and Reina were arrested on Wednesday on a warrant, sworn to by Ah Poy, charging them with stealing 40 sacks of abalone shells and 20 sacks of abalone meat. In the examination yesterday, it was learned that Gerald and Reina were engaged with their boat to take P. E. L. Hillyer and a party to the islands on a cruise. After leaving the party on the island, the defendants left for a short trip, agreeing to be back at a staged time. When they returned somewhat later than the agreed time, they stated that they were becalmed and could not get back. Wharfinger McNealy of Gaviota testified that during that identical time the defendants came to Gaviota, and from there shipped about 60 sacks of abalones to San Francisco. The defendants, represented by S. E. Crow, Esq. put up no defense, and were held to answer to the Superior Court by Justice Wheaton.”

June 13, 1902 [LAT]: “At a meeting of the San Miguel Island Company last night the following directors were elected: Captain W. G. Waters, J. M. McAvoy, S. E. Crow, George A. Black and H. L. Irwin. Waters was chosen as president, McAvoy vice-president, George S. Edwards, treasurer, and H. L. Irwin, secretary.”

November 17, 1908 [SBI]: “Tomorrow the long contested suit of Elias Beckman against Captain W. G. Waters and the San Miguel Island Company, which has been before the courts for the last four years, will be reopened in the Superior court, with Judge Monroe of Los Angeles presiding. The suit concerns the personal property on San Miguel Island, the island belonging to the government. The suit was brought in March 1894, by Elias Beckman, to secure possession of the island and prevent it from being transferred to the San Miguel Island Company... As Judge Crow is a witness for the plaintiff, he is disqualified to sit in the case, which accounts for the fact that a Los Angeles judge will preside.”

November 18, 1908 [SBI]: “Captain Waters testifies in San Miguel contest. The long contested suit for the possession of San Miguel Island, which has been before the courts for the last four years, was again opened in the Superior court this morning, with Judge Monroe of Los Angeles presiding. Elias Beckman, plaintiff in the action brought against Captain W. G. Waters and the San Miguel Island Company, did not appear in court this morning. Owing to the non-appearance of Beckman, J. F. Conroy of Los Angeles, who, with associate counsel Squire represents the plaintiff, moved for a continuance. The motion was overruled by the court. Another motion for a continuance was made on the ground that the physical condition of Attorney Conroy rendered him unfit to take part in the case. The motion was also overruled and the taking of testimony began. Judge Crow was the first witness to be placed on the stand. His testimony was in regard to making out the legal documents which conveyed the property from Beckman to Waters...”

January 14, 1923 [SBMP]: “Santa Cruz Island case up for order to three referees. The postponed motion of Aglae S. Capuccio against Arthur J. Caire and others asking court instruction to the referees appointed to subdivide Santa Cruz Island will be heard in the superior court of Judge S. C. Crow tomorrow morning, according to the calendar. The Supreme Court recently upheld the order of Judge Crow authorizing a subdivision in favor of Mrs. Capuccio against the Caire interests who control five-sevenths of the stock of the defunct corporation. The motion for instruction to the referees, Frank F. Flournoy, F. M. Whitney and George W. McComber was made by the Caire trustees, and asks that expense of subdivision be curtailed. The motion was filed some time ago, the day before actual work was to start.”

'January 30, 1923 [SBMP]: “Santa Cruz Island partition suit decided by Judge Crow. Ends long court controversy. Capuccio interests win action entitling them to develop extensive property interests; work expected to begin at an early date. The way was cleared for the immediate subdivision of Santa Cruz Island yesterday when Judge S. E. Crow ruled against the Caire interests on 10 motions to introduce evidence and threw out their amended motion against Aglae S Capuccio to restrict operation of the referees appointed to partition the island. The suit is one of long standing and much local importance. The island contains approximately 60,000 acres off the coast of Santa Barbara. It is believed that the Capuccio interests plan to develop their portion of the island on an extensive scale. Several years ago the old Santa Cruz Island Company lost its corporation rights by failure to pay state taxes. The company was revived under a trusteeship. The Arthur J. Caire interests controlled 5-7ths and Aglae S. Capuccio represented 2-7ths of the company. Mr. [Mrs.] Capuccio brought suit against the Caire interests to have his [her] portion of the island set aside. Judge S. E. Crow ruled in his [her] favor. The appellate court later reversed the decision, but the final decision of the supreme court given a few months ago, upheld Judge Crow. The referees appointed by Judge Crow to partition the island are Frank F. Flournoy, civil engineer, George W. McComber and Frank M. Whitney. During the latter part of November Mr. Flournoy chartered a gasoline launch and made all preparations for an extended stay on the island for the purpose of making a survey. On November 20 the motion of the Caire interests was filed in the superior court of Judge S E Crow asking that the court instruct the referees to curtail expenses and to take orders from none but Judge Crow. When the matter came up for hearing late in December, 10 motions were made to introduce evidence upholding the original motion. When objection was made Judge Crow took them under advisement. On January 6 an amended motion was made along the same lines as the one of November 10. All were thrown out by Judge Crow yesterday. Mr Flournoy when told of the action of the court yesterday said that it cleared the way for taking up work where it was left off on November 20. As it will take several days to make plans for starting work, Mr. Flournoy was unable to say just when active operations will start.”

February 18, 1923 [SBMP]: “Referees will start island partition March 1. Legal obstacles put aside and party is ready to enforce court order. Resort plan hinted. Santa Cruz Island used as Mexican penal colony before U.S. took it over. Partitioning of Santa Cruz Island will begin about March 1, Frank F. Flournoy, one of the referees appointed by Judge S. E. Crow, announced yesterday. The court having denied a motion to hold up the work, nothing prevents immediate action, he said. At that time, Mr. Flournoy, accompanied by George W. McComber and E. J. Doulton, the other referees, will make an extended tour of the island and lay preliminary plan. Division of the island was ordered by Judge Crow and upheld by the Supreme Court in the case against Aglae Capuccio against Arthur J. Caire and others. By the court decree, two-sevenths of the island will be given to the Capuccio interests and the remainder will go to the Caires...”

March 13, 1923 [SBMP]: “New attempt to halt island partition. Caire estate appeals lost motion seeking to curb referees. Another step, aimed at to hold up the partition of Santa Cruz Island, was taken yesterday when the Caire interests, chief owners, filed a bill of exception, appealing to the higher court from the ruling of Judge S. E. Crow, which denied a motion to instruct the referees in the matter of expenses and making maps. In the motion made by F. P. Deering of San Francisco, it was claimed that existing maps and plats of the island are sufficient for the purpose of participation. The motion also asked that the court instruct the referees, Frank F. Flournoy, George W. McComber and H. J. Doulton, to take orders from none but the court in making the survey...”

September 3, 1924 [SBMP]: “Isle partition truce reached. Resumption of Surveys for division of Santa Cruz property planned. Decision to complete the partition of Santa Cruz Island in accordance with an order given by Superior Judge S. E. Crow and sustained by the Supreme Court was reached by the referees yesterday, according to Frank F. Flournoy. Mr. Flournoy, George W. McComber and H. J. Doulton were appointed to survey and divide the island between contesting owners and had completed about half the work when the suit was reopened in the federal courts. Mr. Flournoy and a party of engineers will leave for the island today and remain a week, he announced yesterday. The petition of the partitioners to the superior court to be allowed expenses for the work already done was continued until next Monday by Judge Crow yesterday...”

October 2, 1924 [SBMP]: “The survey of Santa Cruz Island which was ordered four years ago by the Superior Court will be completed in about 30 days, as soon as field notes are transcribed and maps completed, Frank F. Flournoy announced yesterday upon his return from the island. Mr. Flournoy is one of the three referees appointed by Judge Crow to settle the dispute over subdivision of the island. H. J. Doulton and George McComber will assist Mr. Flournoy in allotting two-sevenths of the island to the heirs represented by Mrs. A. Capuccio, while remaining portions will go to the faction headed by Arthur J. Caire. Mrs. Capuccio has announced her intention of improving the portion of the island allotted to her and possibly selling it. The division will be made so as to allow her two-sevenths of the appraised value of the island, including harbors and agricultural land.”

December 28, 1924 [SBMP]: “Island report will be read. Santa Cruz referees are scheduled to appear in court tomorrow. The final report of the referees on partitioning of Santa Cruz Island will be made to Superior Judge S. E. Crow tomorrow afternoon and set for hearing, according to the court calendar. The filing of the report will be the signal for another court battle in the seven years’ litigation to determine whether or not Mrs. Aglae S. Capuccio has a right to dispose of her one-seventh share of the island as she sees fit. Mrs. Capuccio has been upheld in her suit against the Caire estate by Judge Crow and the Supreme Court has confirmed his judgment. Frank F. Flournoy, H. J. Doulton and George W. McComber were appointed by the court to partition the 60,000-acre island as a basis for setting aside Mrs. Capuccio’s separate estate. It is this report which is due to be submitted to the court tomorrow.”

December 30, 1924 [SBMP]: “Island partition report postponed. The report of the referees on the partition of Santa Cruz Island was indefinitely postponed by Superior Judge S. E. Crow yesterday when he ordered the matter dropped from the calendar to be restored on five-days’ notice. The referees, Frank F. Flournoy, H. J. Doulton and George W. McComber, have completed their final report.”

February 10, 1925 [SBMP]: “Island report to be heard tomorrow. The hearing on the referees report on partitioning Santa Cruz Island will open in the superior court at 10 o’clock tomorrow morning when the contesting parties will be represented by San Francisco attorneys. The referees, Frank F. Flournoy, George W. McComber and H. J. Doulton, have retained attorney William J. Griffith to represent them in court in an effort to obtain their fee and expense allowance of approximately $28,000. The extreme east end of the island has been set aside by the referees to Mrs. Aglae S. Capuccio and Edmund Rossi, who, according to their attorneys, expect to develop it as soon as the referees’ report is accepted.”

March 19, 1925 [SBMP]: “Court continues island hearing. Case will be reset by Crow next Monday; report also deferred. The hearing on the partitioning of Santa Cruz Island which was to have been held in the superior court yesterday morning was continued until next Monday, to be reset by Judge S. E. Crow on motion of attorney W. G. Griffith, representing the referees. Both the report of referees Frank F. Flournoy, George W. McComber and H. J. Doulton and the objection by Mrs. Aglae S. Capuccio and Edmund A. Rossi were continued yesterday.”