For a while, those cases made you wish for the distant past, when justice was swift - or at least a little less theatrical.
Well, upon further review, it seems even those court cases had their own splashes of showmanship amid the tedium.
Consider the arson trial of C.J. Elsasser, whose tea and coffee supply shop at Gordon and Second streets in Pomona burned to the ground on April 28, 1911.
Local prosecutors felt Elsasser put oil-soaked newspapers below floorboards near a candle that slowly burned down and then set his place afire. Elsasser's alibi was that he was in Los Angeles when the fire broke out.
Here are a few items from local papers about the nearly monthlong preliminary hearing that dragged on in a hot Pomona courtroom:
July 6: On the first day, constable Frank Slanker testified he found half-eaten plates of beans and a coffee pot amid the ashes "to give the impression of hobos having broken in," but he wasn't fooled. Remains of coffee were found at the bottom of two cups but it was a deception as Slanker said he could tell no one had actually drunk from the cups, wrote the Pomona Daily Review.
July 8: The Pomona Times reported that those in the crowded courtroom seemed unified in their belief that the defendant had thus far deflected the charges. His attorney Kemper B. Campbell "proved to be more brilliant than ever before."
July 10: The Daily Review detailed how witness Lawrence Gubser said he gave the alarm when he saw the store on fire. He also claimed to have chased a man with tattered clothes from behind the burning store but was absolutely sure the man was not the city's night police patrolman. Then the courtroom erupted in laughter when Gubser admitted he did not know what the officer looked like.
July 11: The morning Times called the tactics of Deputy District Attorney W.T. Helms "reprehensible" after he attacked the character of a young woman, a defense witness. His badgering of the woman "brought a flush of indignation to the faces of all the fathers and brothers present, who resented such reprehensible tactics." Campbell rebuked Helms by reading aloud the Code of Ethics of the Bar Association.
In its afternoon edition, the Daily Review joyfully quoted Helms that morning denouncing the rival Times for "its efforts to prejudice the public" while fellow prosecutor J.W. Joos "spoke his disgust that a public print should be so unfair." Judge Erastus Barnes said he "never allowed any newspaper to warp his opinion in a case."
July 13: The bored Review writer evoked the words of poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson: "The Elsasser case like Tennyson's babbling brook, goes on and on, and on. This was the sixth day of it, and for dullness it easily won the prize. The empty chairs in the court room bespoke plainer than words that Pomona people are beginning to lose interest in the case."
July 14: In its afternoon edition, the Review said the morning sessions saw attorneys "injecting just enough ginger into the proceedings to keep the hearers in good humor."
July 19: "Very dull," moaned the Review.
July 21: The attorneys "hurled choice epithets at each other," wrote the Review. "The words lie and liar were as abundant as beer at a German picnic." The judge "had to call the high-minded gentlemen of the legal fraternity to the fact that this was not a ... riot but a court of justice."
July 25: "The only interesting moment in today's proceeds were the battles of wits between counsel, but even these tiffs gradually assumed staleness (like the testimony)," yawned the Review.
Aug. 1: Final arguments mercifully were given by the warring attorneys. It was highlighted by Campbell denouncing Helm "as a liar, a coward and cheat, in nine different sorts of English diction," said the Review. Unaffected, Barnes bound over Elsasser for trial in Los Angeles.
Oct. 7: Los Angeles County District Attorney J.D. Fredericks - probably unwilling to endure a repeat of July's theater of the absurd - announced his office didn't think it could get a conviction and dropped the case. "While there is an assumption of guilt, there is nevertheless reasonable doubt, and (we believe) a jury would give the defendant the benefit of this doubt," Fredericks was quoted in the Review.
Joe Blackstock writes on Inland Valley history. He can be reached at 909-483-9382, email at email@example.com or Twitter @JoeBlackstock.