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Anne Bradley Trial: 1907

Defense: Temporary Insanity

Bradley's original attorneys had no luck in getting from Bradley any of the information needed to prepare her defense. Instead, constantly sitting with Brown's picture in her hands and wrapped up in her own thoughts, all that she would say was that the senator refused to talk to her and, as he started to put on his overcoat and leave the room, she shot him. Eventually, Orlando Powers, a former Utah judge and one of the most prominent Democrats in the state, with the assistance of two young Washington attorneys, George Hoover and Roberts Wells, took over Bradley's defense. As Powers would later recall:

I reached Washington and went to see her [Bradley]. The first two visits resulted in nothing, so reluctant was she to have Brown's side of their relations laid bare. One afternoon in the midst of her protestations, I drew from my pocket a copy of the former Senator's will, completely disowning Mrs. Bradley's boys. I worked up to the passage in the will as strongly as I could and then read it over to her. Her eyes blazed and with a sob that sent her reeling to her cot, she said, 'Judge Powers, I will tell you all.'

At the trial, the prosecution argued that Bradley traveled to Washington to try one more time to get Brown to marry her or to publicly acknowledge their children and to kill the senator if he refused. The government's lawyers included U.S. attorney Daniel W. Baker and his assistant, former congressman Charles Turner.

While some evidence was submitted that the shooting was an accident, Bradley's defense was primarily one of temporary insanity. However, her attorneys were hampered by lack of funds. Bradley and her family had little money, and her lawyers donated most of their time. The three psychiatrists who testified on her behalf did so without any compensation. Furthermore, most of Bradley's witnesses were back in Salt Lake City and while the law allowed for some of them to be brought to Washington at government expense, just how many was up to the judge. Therefore, because Judge Wendell P. Stafford (at U.S. attorney Baker's urging) decided that only five would be sent for, many of Bradley's other witnesses had to pay their own way, and some could not afford the trip to attend the trial. In contrast, the prosecution was not limited as to the number of witnesses it could afford to bring, and the two physicians who testified that Bradley was sane when she shot the senator were well paid for their time.

At the trial, all the details of Bradley's and Brown's affair came out, including the fact that Bradley had three illegal abortions that were performed by the senator himself. Many witnesses testified about how Brown treated Bradley and about Bradley's increasingly irrational behavior as the senator continually refused to marry her or acknowledge their children. Brown's former law partner, Judge Henry Henderson, said that he dissolved their partnership because of the way Brown treated women. U.S. Senator George Sutherland of Utah, whom Bradley had known since 1895, testified that he interviewed Bradley shortly after her arrest and concluded that she was not in her right mind. Evidence was presented that two of her aunts were insane and that she had an uncle who was "full of violent hallucinations." Finally, three physicians testified that, due to the effects on her nervous system of the frequent pregnancies and abortions, Bradley was insane when she fired the gun at Brown.

Under District of Columbia law at that time, the jury could have found Bradley not guilty by reason of insanity. If they had, then a sanity proceeding would have immediately commenced after her trial. Instead, at one in the morning on December 3, 1907, after deliberating for almost nine hours, the jury in Bradley's trial took its third vote and found her not guilty of murdering the former senator from Utah.

After her release from jail, Bradley returned to Salt Lake City. An attempt was made to break the senator's will so her sons could inherit part of his estate, but it was unsuccessful. Bradley held a series of jobs over the years and, from 1921 until her death in 1950 at the age of 77, she operated an antique store named "My Shop." She never remarried.

Mark Thorburn

Suggestions for Further Reading

Ross, Shelley. Fall from Grace: Sex, Scandal, and Corruption in American Politics from 1702 to the Present. New York: Ballantine Books, 1988.

Thatcher, Linda. "The 'Gentile Polygamist': Arthur Brown, Ex-Senator from Utah." Utah Historical Quarterly 52, no.3 (Summer 1984): 231-45.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1883 to 1917Anne Bradley Trial: 1907 - A Woman Ahead Of The Times, Brown And Bradley Arrested For Adultery, The Final Showdown