Helping Researchers For Over 100 Years

Look what we found!

Cronin Memo


It’s a page from a notepad that belonged to Con Cronin, tucked into the pages of a the 1913 Civil Code, which we recently had rebound! More on that below.




Con Cronin was the first State Librarian of Arizona. His actual title was State Law & Legislative Reference Librarian. The State Library was established on March 24, 1915 (Laws 1915, Chapter 62, page 156 of PDF). Con Cronin was appointed by name in the enacted provision. Along with his extensive duties to organize and manage the new state library, he had a role in the legislative process:


Session laws, State of Arizona, 1915, Second Legislature, Regular Session, First and Second Special Sessions

He served until 1932.

We tried to decipher the tidy penciled notes that were taken on the Con P. Cronin notepad. Apparently it is the 2nd page of a research request:


It appears that Mr. Cronin had been asked about the process for paying or showing payment of the Road Tax, but the citation doesn’t match: Paragraph 505 (page 351 of PDF) pertains to legal grounds for postponement of a trial.

The 1913 Revised Statutes governed road taxes in Paragraph 5056 and the following sections. As if we needed a reminder that 1913 was a long time ago, Arizona’s law in 1913 provided for collection of a tax to maintain the roads. The law stated that “every able-bodied male resident of the state, over twenty-one years and under sixty years of age…shall be required to pay a road tax of two-dollars per annum to be collected by the county tax collector…”. Upon payment, the resident would receive a receipt. Here’s the provision from 1913 R.S. §5056:


The provision had also appeared in the 1901 Revised Statutes of the Arizona Territory, at §3964 (page 996 of the PDF).

This seems to answer the patron’s question. And here we are, some 105 years later, still answering patrons’ research questions about Arizona legal history.

You’re Under Citizen’s Arrest!

Wait, is citizen’s arrest really a thing??

Well, yes. But be careful with that…

Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) §13-3884 states:

13-3884. Arrest by private person

A private person may make an arrest:

  1. When the person to be arrested has in his presence committed a misdemeanor amounting to a breach of the peace, or a felony.
  2. When a felony has been in fact committed and he has reasonable ground to believe that the person to be arrested has committed it.

So it has to be a misdemeanor that breached the peace or a felony and you know who did it.

I.W.W. Deportations 1917 “Striker Resisting Arrest”

A.R.S. §3889 requires you to announce the arrest…unless you don’t have to:

13-3889. Method of arrest by private person

A private person when making an arrest shall inform the person to be arrested of the intention to arrest him and the cause of the arrest, unless he is then engaged in the commission of an offense, or is pursued immediately after its commission or after an escape, or flees or forcibly resists before the person making the arrest has opportunity so to inform him, or when the giving of such information will imperil the arrest.

Photograph of the fingerprints of Ernesto Miranda from his booking sheet, Phoenix Police, Phoenix (Ariz.)

Clear enough?
No. Not at all.

There’s more:

13-3900. Duty of private person after making arrest

A private person who has made an arrest shall without unnecessary delay take the person arrested before the nearest or most accessible magistrate in the county in which the arrest was made, or deliver him to a peace officer, who shall without unnecessary delay take him before such magistrate. The private person or officer so taking the person arrested before the magistrate shall make before the magistrate a complaint, which shall set forth the facts showing the offense for which the person was arrested. If, however, the officer cannot make the complaint, the private person who delivered the person arrested to the officer shall accompany the officer before the magistrate and shall make to the magistrate the complaint against the person arrested.

Photograph of a group of prisoners in striped uniforms at the Arizona State Prison in Florence (Ariz.)

So, next you need to take the person you arrested to an officer and explain what happened. Then, you need to explain it to the judge. Apparently you shouldn’t make a citizen’s arrest if you’re in a hurry.

Arizona Code 1939

Or angry.

The Arizona Attorney General interpreted the provisions in Attorney General Opinion I85-048. It concluded that a citizen making an arrest could be charged with a crime or be sued for false arrest, false imprisonment, assault and battery, negligence, and violation of civil rights. The opinion notes that the provisions have been applied to the actions of security guards and law enforcement outside their jurisdiction.

Nevertheless, the provisions remain a part of Arizona law, where they’ve been since 1939 (Arizona Code §44-125). It seems that this law isn’t going anywhere.




Researching the Old Legal Stuff

YaleWe recently purchased The Yale Law School Guide to Research in American Legal History, a new resource to help you find historical legal information that is very specialized or pre-dates the information that is readily available online. Some of the resources are digitized, and some only in print. It is available to use in the Reading Room at the Polly Rosenbaum Archives and History Building.

For example, if you are looking for the laws on witchcraft, this source tells you step-by-step how to find them. Witchcraft was originally designated as a felony in the United Kingdom and carried the death penalty. Later revisions passed by Queen Elizabeth I reduced the severity of the penalty if nobody got hurt. This change enabled herbalists to practice their craft. Maybe this was the origin of the No Harm, No Foul standard.

Yale TOC

Later chapters address later eras. Apparently practice manuals were widely used in the Colonial era by justices, officials, and educated citizens. Some states had constitutions that predated the adoption of the Federal Constitution, and this reference has information on both, as well information on how to access statutes and cases from the early days of the Republic. Later chapters explain how the Reporter system for publishing case law was a pioneering innovation, how to do archival research, searching administrative law, and the advent of legal forms.


DictionariesAnother chapter discusses how international law and treaties affect U.S. law. Another introduces the use of dictionaries and biographical sources. The book concludes with tips for researching newspapers, statistical resources, and public records.

If you don’t know where to find the historical legal topic you are researching, we may just look here first!