Special to The New York Times
POUGHKEEPSIE, N. Y., Nov. 10---The sealed papers in the divorce action of Ava Willing Astor against John Jacob Astor were filed in the Dutchess County Clerk's office here this afternoon by Frank G. Charlton of Strong & Cadwalader, attorneys for the plaintiff.
Following the same course pursued in the proceedings before Justice Mills, when not even the title of the case was mentioned, there is no superscription on the envelope in which the papers are sealed indicating the parties to the action. The Deputy Clerk said that there was nothing open for public inspection, no way to learn the names of the witnesses, the identity of the co-respondent, or the locality in which Col. Astor's alleged infidelities were committed.
County Clerk John M. Ham was asked if any extraordinary precautions were to be taken to preserve the papers intact.
Will they be locked up in a safe or canned in a strong box?" a reporter queried.
"I guess not," smiled Mr. Ham. "They will take the same course as proceedings in similar cases, and will be filed in the regular cabinet for interlocutory decrees, where divorce papers under seal are kept."
Divorce cases in Dutchess County are usually tried in open court, but there have been a few exceptions in which the testimony and decrees are under seal. The cabinet in which the sealed decrees are kept is open to searchers in the Clerk's office, but, of course, nobody ever tampers with documents under the court's protection.
Accompanying the Astor divorce papers was the following order from Supreme Court Justice Mills:
At a Special Term of the Superior Court, held at the County Court House in and for the County of Rockland on the eighth day of November, 1909---Present, the Hon. Isaac N. Mills, Justice; Ava Willing Astor, plaintiff, against John Jacob Astor, defendant.
On reading the summons and complaint and answer herein, and upon the testimony taken before the referee, the referee's report, and the interlocutory judgment this day signed and ordered to be entered in the office of the Clerk of the County of Dutchess, and upon the appearance of Strong & Cadwalader for the plaintiff herein, and Carter, Ledyard & Millburn for the defendant herein, it is, on motion of Strong & Cadwalader, attorneys for the plaintiff
Ordered, That the referee's report and the testimony taken in this action and all the proceedings here shall be sealed, together with the judgment roll, by the Clerk of this county, and that the same shall not be exhibited to any person except the parties to the action or their attorneys, except upon the further order of this court.
(Signed) ISAAC N. MILLS, J. S. C.
John Jacob Astor
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(1909) SEALED ASTOR PAPERS FILEDNew York Times (ref: #4137, accessed 3rd September 2014 08:01:45 AM)
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Added to Encyclopedia Titanica Sunday 7th November 2004, last updated Wednesday 3rd September 2014.