Ernest Patrick

In addition to finger prints, Ernest Patrick's finger print card lists his age as 29, complexion light, eyes deep blue, hair light brown, weight 137, height 5 ft. 4.5 inches.
Ernest Patrick's Oregon State Penitentiary fingerprint card. Enlarge image
Fifteen minutes was all it took for a Wasco County jury to find Ernest Patrick guilty of possession of an unregistered still and worm. District Attorney Galloway made that point quite clear in his statement to the Board of Parole in February, 1929. He added that Patrick “has, for many months, been the principal booze operator around Maupin and the moral effect of his conviction is very good.”

Patrick, whose occupation was listed as “electrician and rancher,” was renting and living on a ranch owned by N.D. Caven for just less than a year beginning in December, 1927. It was on that property that the illegal still was found. He appealed his conviction to the Oregon Supreme Court, steadfastly contending that the equipment belonged to Caven who had a prior history of distilling illegal liquor.

A twenty year old named George Skinner was on site when the raid took place, and testified at trial against Patrick in exchange for a postponement of his sentence. In the Supreme Court respondent’s brief, Patrick is characterized as “the owner and manager of the still operations … He was the ‘higher up,’ employing the … kid to run the still for him. Patrick skirted around the edges.”

It was clear the local authorities could see no reason for leniency or parole for Patrick. Judge Wilson concluded in his statement to the Parole Board, “he should serve out every day of his sentence.” In addition to the statements above, Galloway helpfully noted that “Patrick also claims to be a pretty good cook and perhaps he can be used at the penitentiary in this capacity.”

The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s judgment and in his parole board statement, Patrick admitted his guilt despite his earlier plea and appeal. In the end he was paroled in August of 1930 after serving approximately seven months of a one year sentence.