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Sharon/Hill Divorce And Terry/Field Affair: 1883-1885 & 1887-1890

A Secret Marriage, A Long String Of Trials Begins, Senator Sharon Dies, But The Trials Continue

Sharon v. Hill (Federal Court Appeal) Plaintiff: William Sharon (later substituted by Frederick Sharon)
Defendant: Sarah Althea Hill
Plaintiff Claim: To cancel and annul the marriage contract between William Sharon and Sarah Althea Hill and to declare the contract a forgery
Chief Lawyers for Plaintiff: William M. Stewart, Oliver P. Evans
Chief Lawyers for Defendant: George W. Tyler, W. B. Tyler, David S. Terry
Judges: Matthew P. Deady, Lorenzo Sawyer
Place: San Francisco, California
Date of Decision: December 26, 1885
Decision: Marriage contract between William Sharon and Sarah Althea Hill is a forgery and invalid
Cunningham v. Neagle (Supreme Court Appeal in Shooting of David Terry) Appellant: Thomas Cunningham
Appellee: David Neagle
Chief Lawyers for Appellant: G. A. Johnson, Zacharias Montgomery
Chief Lawyers for Appellee: William Henry Harrison Miller, Joseph H. Choate, James C. Carter
Judges: Samuel F. Miller, Joseph P. Bradley, John M. Harlan, Horace Gray, Samuel Blatchford, Lucius 0. C. Lamar, Melville W. Fuller, David J. Brewer (Stephen F. Field abstained)
Place: Washington, D.C.
Date of Decision: April 14, 1890
Decision: Neagle was acting within the scope of his duties when he shot David Terry and, therefore, committed no crime

SIGNIFICANCE: When Sarah Althea Hill met U.S. senator William Sharon in 1880, their meeting triggered a series of events that, during the next decade, led to a torrid love affair, Hill's marriage to a notorious knife-carrying judge, the arrest of a U.S. Supreme Court justice for murder, and a series of court cases that included no less than 12 California and federal appellate court decisions.

Sarah Althea Hill met U.S. Senator William Sharon in San Francisco in 1880. She was a 27-year-old (some say 32) beauty from Missouri whose father was a prominent attorney and whose mother was the daughter of a wealthy lumber dealer. Orphaned at a young age, Althea (she preferred her middle name) was raised by her maternal grandfather, educated in a convent, and gained a reputation as a flirt. In turn, Senator Sharon was a 60-year-old multimillionaire and widower whose favorite pastimes included spending time in and out of bed with young women.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1883 to 1917