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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

MCGANNON, WILLIAM HENRY

MCGANNON, WILLIAM HENRY

MCGANNON, WILLIAM HENRY (5 Oct. 1870-17 Nov. 1928) was a chief justice of Cleveland Municipal Court twice acquitted of murder but convicted of perjury. He was born in Willoughby to James and Mary (Coyle) McGannon. He attended Western Reserve Law School (1894-97), passed the bar in 1898, and appointed Cuyahoga County examiner. He was assistant county prosecutor (1906-07), police court judge (1907-11), and elected chief justice of municipal court in 1911, reelected to a 6-year term in 1915. McGannon was favored for the 1921 Democratic mayoral nomination until 8 May 1920, when he hired mechanic Harold Kagy to fix his Cadillac. That afternoon, they test-drove the car to a speakeasy, met bondsman and saloon keeper John W. Joyce, and returned with him downtown. Around midnight, Kagy was shot. Kagy stated on his deathbed that Joyce had shot him, charges which Joyce denied.

Joyce was indicted for murder but acquitted; the judge disallowed Kagy's claims. McGannon then was indicted. The first jury deadlocked despite the testimony of May Neely, who had followed McGannon's car and stated McGannon had shot Kagy. At the second trial, Neely refused to testify on 5th Amendment grounds, and McGannon was acquitted. Neely had known McGannon for years, and rumors of an affair between them circulated. In a grand jury investigation, 15 people were indicted for perjury, including McGannon, who was sentenced to 1 to 10 years but served only 19 months because of diabetes. McGannon moved to Chicago in 1928, where he clerked for a law firm, and died. He married Anna O'Donnell on 18 Oct. 1900; they had no children.