Thomas  Clifford  Newton


The  Shelbyville  Republican
Monday August 11, 1947
Page 4 column 1
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CLIFFORD NEWTON
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(Picture)
By Avonelle Lewis
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          Thomas Clifford Newton is his given name, but the slightly stooped, familiar figure that rules over the justice of the peace office at the courthouse doubts if very many people know itóheís been "Squire" Newton for so long.
          The title fits him nicely and even though youíve only been acquainted with him for a short time its much more natural to address him as Squire instead of "Mr. Newton."
          He was appointed justice of peace of Addison township in 1927 and this June 27 celebrated his 20th year in the office. Nine big books stacked in the corner of his office and a like number filed away in the courthouse basement hold records of the innumerable cases over which heís presided. In 1946 he handled 283 criminal cases (this figure was compiled for us by means of a "doodling" system such as is used in keeping a basketball score), and while he says it isnít fair to use that as an averageósome years there werenít that manyóhis total number of cases must run to at least 5,000. The list includes traffic violations, assault and battery, disorderly conduct and such offenses as donít warrant jurisdiction of a higher court.
          The Squire always wanted to study law. But, "somehow just never got around to it." You get the impression however, that quite a bit of law is tucked away behind his bespectacled eyes. His creed, in the law business and otherwise, is: "Be fair and square and try to see both sides." He finds too that often times a quiet talk with some of his victims does far more good than severe punishment, particularly in the cases of young people.
          Mr. Newton was born in Switzerland county and after his parents died when he was quite young he lived with his grandfather until he was 12 years old. From that age he was "on his own" and worked on farms by the month until he was 21. He moved to Shelby county in 1912. In the meantime, in 1906, he married a Switzerland county girl who lived only two months and three days after their marriage. In 1908 he married Miss Ora Phillips and they have resided in a pretty home at 1107 Elm Street for the past 24 years. They have no children of their own but reared a foster daughter.
          He was working in the old Wardrobe furniture factory when the 1929 crash came and after being laid off with hundreds of others he decided that if worst came to worst heíd just "open up a peanut stand somewhere." "But," he chuckles, "it never quite came to that.
          His first justice of peace office was in the 100 block on South Harrison street. He was there for five years and then came five years in an office over what is now the G. C. Murphy Store on the southwest corner of the Public Square. He moved into the courthouse office on March 1, 1937, and has been there since. But this week is the first time heís had a telephone installed. "There were so many calls that were out of my line that I was pestered to death," he says, "but now those calls come to other offices here and I canít have those people bothered." His number, by-the-way, is 1710
          Squire estimates he has married more than 900 couples during his 20 years in officeóat all hours of the day and night. His funniest experience in that department came one time when he asked the couple to clasp right hands and the two immediately stuck both hand straight up in the air. He always has wondered if they had been ordered to do that before under different circumstances. The cases he dislikes most are possession suits. He realizes the need of many home owners in trying to regain possession of their property but finds it "pretty hard to set families with children out with no place to go." His "meanest" case he believes, was a four-day jury trial in which a man was charged with cruel treatment to his child.
          Mr. Newton says he isnít too much for traveling and hasnít been too far away from Indiana. Mrs. Newton likes going places however, and has visited such places as California and Florida. But the man who probably has seen as much of human nature as almost anyone in the county likes his home and would rather hear the Missus tell about her trips than to take them himself.
Contributed by Barb Huff

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