The Scottsboro Trials
* Tessa Barton *
* Lauren Beck *
* Evan Bolland *
* TJ Deckenbach *
* Maddy DiGiovanni *
* Elliot Vo...
Scottsboro Trials: An Overview
What were the Scottsboro trials? In 1931, Victoria Price
and Ruby Bates of Madison County, ...
History of the Case
 March 24th
, 1931: Victoria Price and Ruby Bates boarded
freight train to TN; met seven white boys
...
Excerpts From Scottsboro Trials:
 Judge Horton’s instructions to the Jury, “Take the
evidence, sift it out , and find the...
More Excerpts:
 Victoria price, an alleged rape victim claimed, “I never
was in Chattanooga but one time in my life. . . ...
1. Two white women falsely accused the nine young black men—Olen
Montgomery, Clarence Norris, Haywood Patterson, Ozzie Pow...
The Trials
TB
• “Roy Wright 13, Eugene Williams 13, Andy Wright 17,
Haywood Patterson 17, Olin Montgomery 17, Willie
Rober...
The Trials
• “[The Boys] were tried in three groups, the eight were
sentenced to death on the same day-April 9,1931.”
• “F...
The Trials
“Three months later, the court
once again overturned the guilty
verdicts and ordered new trials,
ruling in Patt...
Racism In and Out of Courts
“Many local newspapers had made their
conclusions about the defendants before the
trials bega...
NAACP
“The NAACP, which might have been expected
to rush to the defense of the Scottsboro Boys,
did not. Rape was a polit...
Communist Party
“Instead, it was the Communist Party that moved
aggressively to make the Scottsboro case their
own. The P...
Eye Witnesses
 “The prosecution's only eyewitness to the crime was a
farmer named Ory Dobbins who said he saw the
defenda...
 “Lester Carter, the twenty-three-year-old traveling companion
of Bates and Price, was one of the defense's most
spectacu...
Climax
 “The appearance of the defense's final and most dramatic witness, Ruby
Bates, might have been taken from the scri...
Trial Conclusion
“Seven of the nine Scottsboro Boys had been held in jail for over six years without
trial by the time jur...
More About the Scottsboro Boys
 In 1931, two white women got raped by 9 black people on a
train in Paint Rock, Alabama. T...
Background
 On January 5, 1932, a letter from Ruby Bates to a boyfriend
states that she wasn’t raped.
 On March 24, 1932...
After:
o “Patterson was convicted of
rape for a fourth time in
January 1936, but this time
his sentence was set at 75
year...
The long, complicated issue
of the Scottsboro Trials
is key in Alabama’s past.
Learning more about the
Trials provides
int...
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  1. 1. The Scottsboro Trials * Tessa Barton * * Lauren Beck * * Evan Bolland * * TJ Deckenbach * * Maddy DiGiovanni * * Elliot Vorel * * Aaron Wright *
  2. 2. Scottsboro Trials: An Overview What were the Scottsboro trials? In 1931, Victoria Price and Ruby Bates of Madison County, AL, were allegedly raped by twelve negroes. The story of the legal case has become a crucial part of Alabama’s history. MD
  3. 3. History of the Case  March 24th , 1931: Victoria Price and Ruby Bates boarded freight train to TN; met seven white boys  12 negroes boarded; led by Charlie Weems, who carried a pistol  After forcing white boys off train, six negroes allegedly raped Ms. Price, and six, Ms. Bates  White gang telegraphed nearest station; nine negro boys were arrested, three had left earlier  No charges made until after Scottsboro boys taken into custody; questionable charges MD
  4. 4. Excerpts From Scottsboro Trials:  Judge Horton’s instructions to the Jury, “Take the evidence, sift it out , and find the truths and untruths and render your verdict. It will not be easy to keep your minds solely on the evidence. Much prejudice has crept into it has come not only from far away, but from here at home as well.”  Ory Dobbins, an eye witness said, “I saw one of the girls setting up on the end of the gon fixing to jump off.”  Dallas Ramsey was asked, “The day or afternoon of the account referred to you say you saw those girls about six o’ clock in the morning in the jungles?” He answered, “Yes sir.” LB
  5. 5. More Excerpts:  Victoria price, an alleged rape victim claimed, “I never was in Chattanooga but one time in my life. . . I never was at any negro’s house in my life.”  Ruby Bates, another alleged rape victim was asked, “You mean Lester Carter and Gilly left the gondola in which you were in and went into the next gondola where the fight was between the white boys and the negros?” She replied, “Yes sir.” LB
  6. 6. 1. Two white women falsely accused the nine young black men—Olen Montgomery, Clarence Norris, Haywood Patterson, Ozzie Powell, Willie Roberson, Charlie Weems, Eugene Williams, and brothers Andy and Roy Wright—of rape 2. Eight of the 9 young men were sentenced to death, but the youngest, 13 year old Roy Wright, was sentenced to life in prison 3. The juries were all white. 4. It began in March 25,1931, when a fight broke out between black and white passengers on a freight train going through Jackson county. 5. The trials lasted 7 years. 6. The case may have ended way earlier if it weren't for an intervention from the International Labor Defense (ILD). 7. The first trials lasted 4 days in early April of 2001. This attracted many angry whites, and the Alabama national guard was sent to prevent a lynching. 8. They had a lot of support from ILD lawyers who quickly won the trust of the defendants and there families. 9. The ILD was a communist group, which made the case even more controversial. 10.The ILD pleaded there case in front of the Alabama supreme court, but the convictions were upheld. Things to Keep in Mind AW
  7. 7. The Trials TB • “Roy Wright 13, Eugene Williams 13, Andy Wright 17, Haywood Patterson 17, Olin Montgomery 17, Willie Roberson 17, Ozzie Powell 16, Charles Weems 21, Clarence Norris 21[all accused of raping the girls]” • “The nine [boys], who were charged with attacking two white girls, one an admitted town prostitute, Ruby Bates and Victoria Price, immediately pleaded not guilty to the 20 indictments [prostitution] against them…” • “An all white court room of Judge E.A. Hawkins convicted 8 of the boys, declaring a mistrial in the case of 13 year old
  8. 8. The Trials • “[The Boys] were tried in three groups, the eight were sentenced to death on the same day-April 9,1931.” • “Finally [after many petitions] on November 8,1932, Judge Hawkins set new trials for all since boys for the March 1933 term of the Scottsboro Court.” • “Despite this [motions for a change of venue], a lily-white jury was picked to try Haywood Patterson, the first of nine young men to be brought to trial” TB
  9. 9. The Trials “Three months later, the court once again overturned the guilty verdicts and ordered new trials, ruling in Patterson v. Alabama and Norris v. Alabama that the defendants were denied a fair trial because African Americans had been systematically excluded from Jackson County jury rolls. The landmark decision paved the way for the integration of juries across the nation. Above: The defendants in the Scottboro trial and their lawyer, Samuel Leibowitz, at a Decatur jail. Standing, left to right: Olen Montgomery, Clarence Norris, Willie Roberson (front), Andrew Wright (partially obscured), Ozie Powell, Eugene Williams, Charley Weems, and Roy Wright. Haywood Patterson is seated next to Leibowitz. TB
  10. 10. Racism In and Out of Courts “Many local newspapers had made their conclusions about the defendants before the trials began. One headline read: "ALL NEGROES POSITIVELY IDENTIFIED BY GIRLS AND ONE WHITE BOY WHO WAS HELD PRISONER WITH PISTOL AND KNIVES WHILE NINE BLACK FIENDS COMMITTED REVOLTING CRIME."”
  11. 11. NAACP “The NAACP, which might have been expected to rush to the defense of the Scottsboro Boys, did not. Rape was a politically explosive charge in the South, and the NAACP was concerned about damage to its effectiveness that might result if it turned out some or all of the Boys were guilty.”
  12. 12. Communist Party “Instead, it was the Communist Party that moved aggressively to make the Scottsboro case their own. The Party saw the case as providing a great recruiting tool among southern blacks and northern liberals.”
  13. 13. Eye Witnesses  “The prosecution's only eyewitness to the crime was a farmer named Ory Dobbins who said he saw the defendants grab Price and Bates as they were about to leap from the train. The credibility of the farmer's testimony was seriously damaged by Leibowitz on cross, when he asked how it was that Dobbins could even be sure, given the speed of the train and his considerable distance from it, that it was a woman that he saw. Dobbins answered, "She was wearing women's clothes." Everyone who had followed the case knew that Bates and Price both were wearing overalls. "Are you sure it wasn't overalls or a coat?," Judge Horton asked. "No sir, a dress," Dobbins said.”
  14. 14.  “Lester Carter, the twenty-three-year-old traveling companion of Bates and Price, was one of the defense's most spectacular witnesses. Carter, who Price had denied having known until the day of the alleged crime, testified that he had met Bates, Price, and Prices' boyfriend Jack Tiller in a Huntsville hobo jungle the night before he would travel with the two girls to Chattanooga. He told the jury that the night the four were together in the hobo jungle, and while he began making love to Ruby Bates while Price did the same with Tiller. Carter testified that two days later, on the return trip to Hunstville from Chattanooga, he jumped off the freight train when fighting broke out between blacks and the outnumbered whites.”
  15. 15. Climax  “The appearance of the defense's final and most dramatic witness, Ruby Bates, might have been taken from the script of a hokey Hollywood movie. In the months before the trial, Bates' whereabouts were a mystery. Leibowitz announced that he was resting his case, then approached the bench and asked for a short recess. Minutes later National Guardsmen open the back doors of the courtroom, and-- to the astonished gasps of spectators and the dismay of Knight-- in walked Ruby Bates. Under direct examination, Bates said a troubled conscience and the advice of famous New York minister Harry Emerson Fosdick prompted her to return to Alabama to tell the truth about what happened on March 25, 1931. Bates said that there was no rape, that none of the defendants touched her or even spoke to her, and that the accusations of rape were made after Price told her "to frame up a story" to avoid morals charges. On cross-examination, Knight ripped into Bates, confronting her both with her conflicting testimony in the first trials and accusations that her new versions of events had been bought with new clothes and other Communist Party gifts. He demanded to know whether he hadn't told her months before in his office that he would "punish anyone who made her swear falsely" and that he "did not want to burn any person that wasn't guilty." "I think you did," Bates answered.”
  16. 16. Trial Conclusion “Seven of the nine Scottsboro Boys had been held in jail for over six years without trial by the time jury selection began in the third trial of Clarence Norris on Monday, July 12, 1937. Trying to beat the hundred degree heat, Judge Callahan rushed the trial even more than usual, and by Wednesday morning the prosecution had a death sentence. Andy Wright's trial was next; he got ninety-nine years. On Saturday, July 24 at eleven o'clock, Charlie Weem's jury returned and gave him seventy-five years. Moments later, Ozie Powell was brought into court and the new prosecutor, Thomas Lawson, announced that the state was dropping rape charges against Powell and that he was pleading guilty to assaulting a deputy. Then came the big news. Lawson announced that all charges were being dropped against the remaining four defendants: Willie Roberson, Olen Montgomery, Eugene Williams, and Roy Wright. He said that after "careful consideration" every prosecutor was "convinced" that Roberson and Montgomery were "not guilty." Wright and Williams, regardless of their guilty or innocence, were twelve and thirteen at the time and, in view of the jail time they had already served, justice required that they also be released. Leibowitz led the four from the jail to an awaiting car, and with an escort of state troopers they were driven to the Tennessee border. Free of Alabama, but not of the label "Scottsboro Boy" or from the wounds inflicted by six years in prison, they went on with their separate lives: to marriage, to alcoholism, to jobs, to fatherhood, to hope, to disillusionment, to disease, or to suicide.”
  17. 17. More About the Scottsboro Boys  In 1931, two white women got raped by 9 black people on a train in Paint Rock, Alabama. This began the largest fight in the 20th century. This fight gave birth to the Civil Rights Movement.  Haywood Patterson is tried, convicted and sentenced to death, on April 6-7 1931.  On April 8-9, Olen Montgomery, Ozie Powell, Urillie Robertson, Eugene Williams, and Andy Wright are also tried, convicted and sentenced to death.  On April 19, 1931, Roy Wright, age 13, ends in a hang jury when eleven jurors seek a death sentence and one votes for life imprisonment. TD
  18. 18. Background  On January 5, 1932, a letter from Ruby Bates to a boyfriend states that she wasn’t raped.  On March 24, 1932, the Alabama Supreme Court upheld the convictions of 7 of the defendants granting Eugene Williams a new trial because he was a juvenile at the time of conviction.  On April 6, Ruby Bates appears as a surprise witness for the defendant, denying that any rape occurred and testifying that she was with Victoria Price the whole train ride.  Dr. Bridges admits that they showed few physical signs of have been forcibly raped by six men, as she claimed.  On April 9th , Patterson is found guilty and sentenced to death by electric chair. TD
  19. 19. After: o “Patterson was convicted of rape for a fourth time in January 1936, but this time his sentence was set at 75 years in prison.” o “Following the verdict, another of the defendants, Ozzie Powell, was shot in the head after attacking a deputy sheriff in an apparent escape attempt.” Left to right: Ozzie Powell, Willie Roberson, Clarence Norris, and Andy Wright. MD
  20. 20. The long, complicated issue of the Scottsboro Trials is key in Alabama’s past. Learning more about the Trials provides interesting background information for To Kill a Mockingbird.
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