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at the history of the Police Department has prompted an examination of
the early judicial system of the town. In the early days of the
municipality the judicial system consisted of a Mayor's Court that had
jurisdiction in the town and for a mile beyond the corporate limits to
"abate nuisances". (Cherryville Eagle 3-3-48) Court was held wherever
space was available - in store buildings, residences, private offices.
Fines and court costs varied greatly. In the beginning the mayor tried
all cases and his costs amounted.to $0.95. The marshall or deputy
sheriff received one dollar and the fine imposed was one dollar, making
the total expenditure for a nominal drunk $2.95. This total charge
remained in force until the latter part of the 1890's when Captain John
M. Rhodes became mayor. If found guilty of public drunkenness then
defendant was fined from $5.00 to $10.00 and the costs, making the
total charge as high as $11.95. Should the defendant be caught with
liquor in his possession the fine was usually $50.00 and the costs.
John J. George, another prohibitionist mayor, continued the practice
when elected in 1920.
In the 1940's changes were made
under state law. The judge of the court was elected by the people and
the solicitor appointed by the town commissioners. The town board was
given the authority to fix the amount of the costs to,be charged in all
cases. The board serving at that time fixed the court costs at $15.00
for each case. According to a report of David P. Dellinger dated
January 5, 1955 "All succeeding boards left the charges as originally
Salaries of the court officials were also fixed by the town officials.
In 1947, according to records, the City Clerk was paid $250.00 per
month; the Recorder and Solicitor were paid $75.00 each per month. The
Mayor drew a salary of $100.00 per year while the commissioners were
paid $50.00 each per year. The Police Chief made up to $250.00 per
month and other officers $220.00 per month. The day fire truck driver
got $170.00 per month while the night driver was paid $135.00.
From 1892 to 1911 court was held in the first Municipal Building of the
town. This small building was erected in 1892 by the Honorable Melville
L. Rudisill near the center of town where the Houser building now
stands. (For more information see the article "The First Mayor's
Office") This small white building has been moved a number of times but
has now found a home in Heritage Park with other historic buildings.
In 1911 a new Municipal Building was constructed on Main Street that
provided space for two fire engines at the front, police offices next
and the city clerk and tax collectors offices in back. The basement
city housed the A jail which replaced the calaboose described by Von
Eva Allran in her article about the Cherryville Police Department. The
second floor provided space for a large court room and offices for the
judge and court officials. David P. Dellinger in an article printed in
the "Cherryville Eagle", March 3,
1948 described it as "one of the best court rooms in the
country for a small town". (The Cherryville Historical Society has
restored much of this building and now maintains a museum there.)
From 1955 to 1966 court was held in the
large courtroom on second floor of the present day City Hall on South
Mountain Street. In 1966the
jail and all judicial functions were moved to the County Seat in