Report of the hearing of Paul Bernard Coy
whose register number is 415-Az
by Good Time Board on April 15, 1939 (9:30 A.M.) at U.S. Penitentiary Alcatraz, California
Members of Board present at hearing: E.J. Miller, Associate Warden
L.C. Schilder, Assistant and Acting with Associate Warden
P.J. Madigan, Captain, and
Dr. Romney N. Ritchey, Chief Medical Officer,
Consultant and Advisor to the Board
Hearing conducted by E.J. Miller, Associate Warden
Q. (Mr. Miller) You are called in front of the Good Time Board here to formally hear and try you for violation of the rules as follows:
(reading from order appointing Board)A. (Prisoner) May I say a word now. Why can't we have Varsalona over here? It seems that this is a little one-sided.
"Fighting with inmate Varsalone #118-Az in the Kitchen about 12:45 P.M. April 4, 1939, during the course of which Varsalona received a badly blackened eye and was felled to the floor by a blow from Coy and Coy received a stab wound. When Officer Steere arrived on the scene to separate them, a knife fell to the floor and slid between the two inmates and Coy stated 'Take me to the Hospital. He stuck me with a knife.'"
Q. I am trying you at the present time.
A. Well, Mr. Miller, I refuse to say anything without the presence of the other man.
Q. You struck Varsalona and knocked him to the floor in the kitchen, did you not?
A. (Long pause) This is not right. I am being tried on a charge that involves another man--bring the other man over.
Q. I am trying you, Coy.
A. Give me my time.
Q. You are going to plead "Guilty" or "Not Guilty".
A. I am not pleading either.
Q. You admitted in one ofyour statements that you struck Varsalona on his face and knocked him to the floor and he got up and took a knife and stabbed at you and when he stabbed at you, his arm and knife went under your arm and you grabbed him and when he jerked the knife out, it cut you, is that right?
A. (Long pause) Mr. Miller, you have the facts in this case without my opinion. I will not jeopardize another man's record. I will never do one thing that will make it hard for another man. You have the facts in the case, you have witnesses to testify--let them make their statements and I am the man that will do the time.
Q. Wait right over there.
(Addressing Mr. Steere) When you arrived on the scene to separate them, a knife fell to the floor between them?
A. (Officer Steere) Yes, sir.
Q. And Coy stated "Take me to the Hospital. He stuck me with a knife."
A. (Officer Steere) Yes, sir.
(Prisoner) May I offer a suggestion--ask him whether I said "He stuck me with a knife" or "I am cut".
(Officer Steere) He said, "He stuck me with a knife."
Q. (Mr. Miller) Is it true that Varsalona took some dishes out of the Officers's Mess that you had washed and that is why you struck him, because you did not want him to have them. A. That would be in my own defense. I won't answer that question.
Q. (addressing Mr. Schilder) Have you anything to ask him, Mr. Schilder.
Q. (Mr. Schilder) Yes. (addressing prisoner) Why did you ask whether we were sure that he had stuck you with the knife.
A. I am sure Mr. Steere is making a statement that is true to his own knowledge.
Q. (Mr. Schilder) Are you implying or making an inference that you do not know who struck you? A. I could have been stuck with a knife in several different ways. You must take into consideration that there are knives and cleavers laying around. I have cut my hands and fingers before this by bumping orpushing against them. You take a couple of men and when they go to war, it is like Hitler or anyone else--they do not know any conscience. They go to war for the purpose of winning and they may hit tables, they are over tables, between pots and everything else. I could have been cut a dozen different ways.
Q. (Mr. Schilder) But the records shows that you were fighting, that you apparently had struck the first blow. That is all I have to say.
Q. (Mr. Miller) After you struck Varsalona you turned around and when Mr. Kessler left the kitchen Varsalona got the knife and ran at you and you ducked and that is when he ran his hand under your arm and you clamped down on it and when he drew back, the knife cut you. A. I don't remember whether that is true or not.
(Here the prisoner engaged in a long discussion of his beliefs and philosophy of life, particularly that in affairs of this kind it is impossible to arrive at a fair judgement. It is not reported, being impertinent to the record.)
(at the end of his statement, occur the following significant words)
I am not responsible for what happened, but I would like for you to give me the same amount of time you gave Joe Varsalona.
Q. (Mr. Miller) You are both equally at fault. The inmate pleads "Guilty", and in fact, he pleads "Not Guilty" in a way--I find him guilty as charged. Captain Madigan?
(Captain Madigan) (addressing prisoner) Did you hit him first, Coy?
A. (Prisoner) Yes, sir.
Q. (Mr. Miller) Any questions, Mr. Schilder?
(Mr. Schilder) I concur.
Q. (Mr. Miller Anything to say, Doctor Ritchey?
(Dr. Ritchey) No, no questions.
Q. (Mr. Miller) I recommend that he lose 100 days of his statutory good time. He has 3122 days statutory good time and 6 days industrial good time. What is your recommendation, Captain Madigan?
(Captain Madigan) Forfeiture of100 days statutory good time.
Q. (Mr. Miller) And yours, Mr. Schilder?
A. (Mr. Schilder) I agree again and say as I stated previously: These fights cannot be tolerated and the men are going to lose good time. You could lose much more. That is all I have to say.
Q. (Mr. Miller) Any comments, Dr. Ritchey?
(Dr. Ritchey) Nothing.