Ethelbert V. Grabill

(1919-1935, 1936-1951)

Ethelbert Grabill succeeded Henry W. Swift as Reporter of Decisions in 1919. The letter correspondences between Mr. Grabill and the State's auditor, Mr. Hoyt, show that Mr. Grabill requested more funds for the Reporter's office. In December of 1920, Mr. Grabill bought reports from the past years because his predecessor had used notes that were his private property.

The need for extra funds was imminent in Mr. Grabill's office, but Mr. Hoyt was not able to grant Mr. Grabill the total amount ($159) that he had requested. Instead, Mr. Grabill got by on the $125 that he was allocated. He doubled up on proofreading work and helped his office assistants with their indexing in order to meet deadlines on a tight budget.

Another struggle Mr. Grabill faced in the early years of office was that his publisher, University Press, went on strike. Mr. Grabill believed the outcome of the strike was that the publisher's work was "below par." The University Press assigned composing and typing to "strangers to it." (Mr. Grabill to Hon. Charles U. Bell, August 31, 1921) The publishing of reports was delayed, also due to the strike.

On May 5, 1920, Mr. Grabill procured the enactment of St. 1920, c. 540, which gave the Reporter a salary of $6,000 per year and $8,000 annually for additional expenses such as staff salaries. At this time, he outlined the Reporter's duties. The Reporter, Mr. Grabill said, must make reports and edit them for publication. (Grabill letter to Ernest Knaebel, Dec. 7, 1920)

Mr. Grabill's office was comprised of a suite for four people: two office assistants, a legal assistant, and the Reporter. The office staff prepared all the copy, which they edited and sent to the printer. Their publisher would print the reports with the office's discretion.

Mr. Grabill's letter correspondence revealed that obtaining preceding reports could be completed easily with additional funding. Despite the lack of these requested funds, his office managed to succeed. Eventually, the strike by University Press gave way to slow or inadequate publication of new reports. (Letter Dec. 7, 1920)

In 1935, Edward Collins became the new Reporter. He served for one year, from 1935-1936, until Mr. Grabill returned to the office. Mr. Grabill served as Reporter for a total of thirty-one years.

Office of the Reporter of Decisions  

The Reporter of Decisions makes true reports of decisions upon all questions of law argued by counsel before the Supreme Judicial Court and the Appeals Court, and prepares them for publication, in print and electronic form, with suitable headnotes, tables of cases, and indexes.

Massachusetts Court System  

The Massachusetts court system consists of the Supreme Judicial Court, the Appeals Court, the Executive Office of the Trial Court, the 7 Trial Court departments, the Massachusetts Probation Service, and the Office of Jury Commissioner.