New Jersey Law

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First Women Jurors

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First Women JurorsThis a photograph from 1921 – the first time women served on a jury in Plainfield District Court. The lawyer second from the left is Irving Kunzman who founded the firm in 1917. The text accompanying the photograph in the Plainfield Library Archives says:

Women help balance the scales of justice in Plainfield in 1921.

Gentlemen . . . and ladies . . . of the jury.

On April 13, 1921, women sat on the jury in the Plainfield District Court for the first time. Judge J. Henry Crane presided over the case, in which Ignacia DeFynfo, a real estate operator, accused John Miklos of Rahway of unlawful detainer of a property. The defense attorney was John Stamler of Elizabeth and the attorney for the plaintiff was Irving Kunzman of Plainfield.

The female jurors, who sat in the front row, were Florance Runyon of Plainfield, wife of state Sen. William N. Runyon; Florence Anthony, wife of Dr. William H. Anthony of Plainfield; and Eva Van Hoesen, wife of Stephen G. Van Hoesen of Fanwood.

The jury decided in favor of the defendants. During the proceedings, Judge Crane permitted Paul Collier and Henry Bryniarski to take a photograph of the jury and others in the courtroom.

After the verdict was returned, each juror received a 75-cent fee. According to a Plainfield Courier News article the next day, “the women expressed the opinion that it was not such a difficult matter to do duty, although Mrs. Anthony remarked that she could have accomplished much more if she had spent the afternoon at home.”

The other jurors who served that day were Edward A. Laing, John Dahl, Lamar Van Syckel, George Edwards, Donald McInnis, Francis Wernig, Charles S. Thorp, James Harrision and Charles Keller.

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