Who are the players in this courtcase? Who too the matter to court? Plaintiff: Charlie Weems, Ozie Powell, Clarence Norris, Olen Montgomery, Willie Roberson, Haywood Patterson, Andrew (Andy) Wright, Leroy (Roy) Wright and Eugene Williams – also known as the Scottsboro Boys Represented by ACLU Attorney Walter Pollack Defendant State of Alabama
What? Nine, young, African American men were accused of raping two white women while traveling on a freight train The young men stood trial in Scottsboro, AL and were convicted of the rape and all but one were sentenced to death for the crime ACLU Attorney Walter Pollack appealed their case to the US Supreme Court based on the Defendants were denied adequate legal counsel.
When? 1931 March 25, 1931: Defendants were accused of raping two white women on a freight train March 30, 1931: Grand jury indicts all 9 “Scottsboro boys” April 6-7, 1931: Before Judge A. E. Hawkins, Clarence Norris and Charlie Weems are tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. April 7-8, 1931: Haywood Patterson is tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. April 8-9, 1931: Olen Montgomery, Ozie Powell, Willie Roberson, Eugene Williams, and Andy Wright are tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. April 9, 1931: The case against Roy Wright, aged 13, ends in a hung jury when 11 jurors seek a death sentence, and one votes for life imprisonment. June 22, 1931: The executions of the defendants are stayed pending appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court. 1932 March 24, 1932: The Alabama Supreme Court, voting 6-1, upholds the convictions of seven of the defendants, granting Eugene Williams a new trial because he was a juvenile at the time of his conviction. May 27, 1932: The United States Supreme Court agrees to hear the case. November 7, 1932: In Powell v. Alabama, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the defendants were denied the right to counsel, which violated their right to due process under the Fourteenth Amendment. The cases are remanded to the lower court. *The following link contains a full timeline of the events of the “Scottsboro boys” http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/scottsboro/timeline/timeline2.html
Where? The alleged rape took place on a Southern Railroad freight train. The train was stopped in Paint Rock, Alabama by an angry posse. Nine young African American young men were arrested for assault. Rape charges were later added. The case was first heard and convictions handed down to all nine young men in Scottsboro, Alabama. Upon waiting for their trials, eight of the nine defendants stayed in Kilby Prison. The case was appealed to the Alabama Supreme Court. The Alabama Supreme Court affirmed seven of the eight convictions, and granted thirteen-year-old Eugene Williams a new trial because he was a juvenile. The case was returned to the lower court and the judge allowed a change of venue, moving the retrials to Decatur, Alabama.
Why? In the height of the depression and tense racial times in the south, a group of young black men were involved in an altercation between some white men while traveling on a freight train. All but one of the white men were thrown from the train. Two white women remained on the train and accused the black men of rape. One of which later recanted her accusations. The black men were arrested and were denied consultation with legal representation until immediately before the trial. The jury’s in all of the trials consisted of only white jurors. Throughout the proceedings, none of the “Scottsboro” boys was allowed to contact their relatives, who lived out of State. On the day of the trial, an out-of-town attorney appeared for the defendants but announced that he could not formally represent them. The trial judge called on all the local lawyers present to assume responsibility for defending the nine young men, but only one agreed. The two lawyers had no opportunity to investigate the case or consult with their “clients.” All nine youths were found guilty by four separate juries, despite testimony from doctors who said they found no evidence of rape upon examining the women. Eight of the nine men received the death penalty. The convictions were appealed through the State courts of Alabama, and failing there, went to the Supreme Court.
How? The case was first heard in Scottsboro, Alabama in three rushed trials, where the defendants received poor legal representation. All but the thirteen-year-old Roy Wright were convicted of rape and sentenced to death, the common sentence in Alabama at the time for black men convicted of raping white women. But with help from the American Communist Party, the case was appealed. The Alabama Supreme Court affirmed seven of the eight convictions, and granted thirteen-year-old Eugene Williams a new trial because he was a juvenile. Chief Justice John C. Anderson dissented however, ruling that the defendants had been denied an impartial jury, fair trial, fair sentencing, and effective counsel. The case was returned to the lower court and the judge allowed a change of venue, moving the retrials to Decatur, Alabama. Judge Horton was appointed. During the retrials, one of the alleged victims admitted fabricating the rape story and asserted that none of the Scottsboro Boys touched either of the white women. The jury found the defendants guilty, but the judge set aside the verdict and granted a new trial. After a new series of trials, the verdict was the same: guilty. The cases were ultimately tried three times. For the third time a jury—now with one black member—returned a third guilty verdict. Charges were finally dropped for four of the nine defendants. Sentences for the rest ranged from 75 years to death.
Outcome and OpinionsIt is my opinion that these young men were wrongly accused and wrongly convicted for a crime they did not commit. They were poor, illiterate, and a minority. They did not receive fair trails nor adequate legal representation. Even when one of the witness recanted her accusations of rape, the courts still convicted them of a crime they did not commit.
Bibliography The following links were used in research for this project: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottsboro_Boys http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/scottsboro/tim eline/index.html http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/sc ottsboro/scottsb.htm http://www.infoplease.com/us/supreme- court/cases/ar30.html