Lizzie’s Judge: Plagued with Accusations
The Borden Curse #5
Josiah Coleman Blaisdell (1820-1900) will probably be forever remembered as the judge who, at the Preliminary, informed Lizzie Borden that she was probably guilty and would be held for trial. It is said that he had a “tear in his eye” when he made this pronouncement. Blaisdell, born in Campton, N.H. had his own share of life’s sadnesses before the trial with the death of three sisters, his mother and his first wife with whom he had six children, two, including his namesake dying at age 3. His career had been a fairly distinguished one, even serving as mayor of Fall River for two years in 1858 and 1859.
In 1885 there had been a scandal involving his oldest son, John, who was a clerk at Weetamoe Mills with the company’s books being audited and young Blaisdell absconding.
Scandal would follow Judge Blaisdell as well due to his practice of seeing clients in his continuing private practice even when he became a judge. This was a sticky business as some of his own private clients, who paid him well, would come up before him on the bench. Although Judge Blaisdell said this was not a conflict for him, and he had ruled against his own clients before, – another lawyer in town, Arba Lincoln,brought suit. The bar association (of which Andrew J. Jennings was a member) decided to do a thorough investigation. Clearly worried about this turn of events, Blaisdell immediately resigned, effective April 21, 1893, only months after his connections with the Borden affair.
Blaisdell was, at another time, accused of some shady business in regards to being a benefactor of a certain lady’s will. The problem here was that the will was in Blaisdell’s own handwriting! Pleading ill health, and having to be assisted into his chair on the bench, Blaisdell gave ill health as his reason for retirement in 1893- in fact he lived for another healthy seven years and died of “old age” according to his death certificate.