The founder of our firm, George Geiger, had a long and successful career as a court reporter. As a Korean War Veteran, he was also a brave man and displayed that bravery one hot summer day in August of 1955.
On that day, August 2, 1955, George was the official court reporter for the Cumberland County Court in Carlisle, PA in what appeared to be a routine hearing. Percy Haines appeared before Judge Mark Garber for a nonsupport hearing for his estranged wife, Lulu.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Judge Garber issued his order; Haines was to pay fifty dollars a month support to his wife. Angry, Haines pulled a gun out of a hidden pocket in his shirt and shot Lulu in the abdomen. He then proceeded to shoot her attorney, George Black, who was sitting beside her. He also shot local attorney John Dysart Faller, Jr., who was sitting next to Attorney Black.
Haines then walked towards the judge’s bench and shot the judge. George Geiger, got up from behind his steno machine and tackled Haines, pinning his right arm to the ground. As Haines continued to struggle, George shouted to a nearby woman to hit Haines. She picked up a chair and began to hit Haines over the head. The gun accidentally went off but it also fell out of Haines’ hand. George picked up the gun and held Haines at gunpoint shouting, “Halt, don’t make a move.”
Lulu survived the shooting after a four-day hospital stay, Judge Garber and Attorney Black also survived. Local attorney John Faller, Jr. died upon arrival at the hospital. It was a cruel twist of fate that Attorney Faller was present in the courtroom that fateful day; he was not involved in the case at all. His presence in the courtroom was only necessary because at that time, attorneys in Pennsylvania could only practice in the county where they were members of the local bar association, not the entire state as is the law today. Attorney Faller was there as local counsel for Attorney Black who was from a different county and therefore, not admitted to practice in Cumberland County.
Percy Haines was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Faller and ended up dying in state prison. After this incident, the Pennsylvania General Assembly launched a state police investigation into the recent occurrences of courtroom violence.
The court reporting service that George Geiger founded in 1950 continues to this day as Geiger Loria Filius McLucas Reporting with offices in York, Harrisburg, Lancaster and State College, Pennsylvania.
The Cumberland County Bar Association is creating a re-enactment of this notable event on Friday, August 17, 2018 beginning at 3:00 pm in the Historic Cumberland County Courthouse in Carlisle, PA. Members of the Bar will be able to obtain continuing education credits for a fee. The public is welcome at no charge. For more information, contact Robin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Credit – Murder & Mayhem in Cumberland County, David Joseph Cress