Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesHistory · 1 decade ago

the scottsboro trials?

exactly what happen in those trails...were they guilty or innocent?..I need like a little summary or something to give me a brief explanation what the case was about

6 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    The incident began during the Depression, when dispossessed young people traveled by jumping aboard trains. In northern Alabama hill country, a number of young people hoped on a slow-moving freight train. Eventually, there were five white males, nine black males, and two fight females. The five white males picked a fight with the blacks, but the blacks threw the white males off the train.

    Incensed, the white youths rushed to a local sheriff, complaining of the "uppity-ness" of the blacks. The train was stopped and searched at Scottsboro, Alabama, and the nine black youths were arrested. Although the young white women initially made no complaint about their behavior, within hours, they announced that the nine had gang raped them. Notably in this part of the South at this time, for a black male of any age to be accused of making any sexual advance on any woman was considered an unspeakable capital crime. The local sheriff felt very proud that he was able to get all nine of these men to trial rather than allowing them to be lynched.

    The resulting trials were little more than charades: all white jury, no specific designation of defense counsel, no time to investigate prosecution charges, no presentation of scientific evidence, vague and ambiguous evidence at best. The defendants were tried in groups of three and in a single day, three trials were held, from jury selection through sentencing. Seven of the nine were sentenced to death; two were spared as juveniles.

    Appeals were filed, but the Alabama Supreme Court found nothing out of the ordinary.

    Then came a shocking development. In an unprecedented move, the United States Supreme Court decided to hear the appeal. This had almost never been done before, and the Court had ruled decades earlier that the U.S. Constitution, and specifically the Bill of Rights, applied only to the federal government. After all, the first amendment began with the language, "Congress shall make no law." The Court had construed this to mean that the states were not bound by the Bill of Rights.

    In the resulting Supreme Court case, Powell v. Alabama (1932), the Supreme Court wrote an opinion that still baffles legal scholars. It does an amazing job of hair-splitting. It holds that the Bill of Rights does not apply to the states. It then holds that notwithstanding this, there are certain rights implicit in the fourteenth amendment and its "due process" clause which are binding on the states. Further, it holds that these constitutional rights binding on the states were violated in the overly hasty trials in Scottsboro.

    The opinion stunned the nation's legal community, particularly as it was authored by one of the Court's staunchest conservatives, Justice George Sutherland, who typically regarded any action by the federal government, including the federal courts, as a threat to state's rights. (Several of his opinions fueled the crisis that led to the court packing plan.)

    Because of the obscurity of the Court's opinion in Powell, saying that the Bill of Rights had no application to the states but finding that some rights that might also be included in the Bill of Rights were binding on the states, there was considerable uncertainty as to whether the federal courts would become involved in supervising state criminal court proceedings.

    That question were partly answered in 1936 in Brown v. Mississippi. In Brown, a white planter was murdered, and three tenant farmers, all black, were accused of the crime. (They apparently were guilty.) Two of the men were beaten brutally, and told that they could confess or they would be beaten until they did confess. The third was taken into a yard behind the jail, where a rope was put around his neck and thrown over a convenient tree limb. He was hoisted off the ground as he struggled, and after he nearly passed out, he was dropped on the ground where police began systematically beating him. After several rounds of this torture, he was told that he could either sign the confession or he would be hanged until he died or beaten until he died. Either way, he was confronted with the simple choice of confessing or dying then and there. He confessed.

    The very next day, looking like they had been brutally mistreated, the three defendants were brought to trial. Although the prosecution had a wealth of other evidence which it might have presented, the district attorney elected to make the trial short: the only evidence he offered against the defendants was their confessions, which he admitted had been beaten out of them.

    Again, the state supreme court upheld the conviction and death sentence for each man.

    Again, the Supreme Court intervened. In a unanimous opinion, the Court ruled that the right of fifth amendment right against self-incrimination applied to the states, and set down a conclusion that rang through American jurisprudence: "a coerced confession is inherently unreliable.

  • 4 years ago

    Scottsboro Trial Facts

  • 4 years ago

    Scottsboro Trial Summary

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

    This Site Might Help You.


    the scottsboro trials?

    exactly what happen in those trails...were they guilty or innocent?..I need like a little summary or something to give me a brief explanation what the case was about

    Source(s): scottsboro trials:
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  • tuffy
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    There was a fight on a train between blacks and whites that occurred March 25th 1931. The whites said the blacks had raped two women on the train. The train was stopped at Paint Rock , Alabama, nine blacks were arrested ranging in age from 12 to 23. They were taken to Scottsboro, Alabama, and put in jail. A Scottsboro doctor found no evidence of rape. There was a series of trials that kept finding them guilty and they were sentenced to die in the electric chair.In 1937 the trials ended and the charges were dropped against four of them.

    Clarence Norris was sentenced to die, but was commuted to life in prison

    Andy Wright was sentenced to 99 years

    Charlie Weems and Haywood Patterson faced 75 years in jail

    Ozzie Powell was sentenced to twenty years after pleading guilty to assaulting sheriff in a 1936 courtroom incident in which Powell was shot.

    Charges were dropped for the final four; Williams, Montgomery, Roberson, and Roy Wright.

    Charlie Weems was the first to be paroled in 1943, followed by Norris and Andy Wright two months later. Powell was paroled in 1946. Norris and Wright violated their parole by leaving Montgomery, Alabama. Both were re imprisoned with Norris winning a final parole in 1946, followed by Wright in 1950. Norris said, " I was never guilty of anything except stealing a ride on a freight train during the Depression..." Norris got an unconditional pardon in 1976.

    Haywood Patterson escaped from Kelby prison in July 1948. Patterson was arrested by the FBI in Michigan. Michigan refused to be extradited hin to Alabama and he was a free man after 18 years. Later that year he killed a black man in Detroit and died of lung cancer in a Michigan prison in 1952.

    In 1959 Roy Wright stabbed his wife to death, then committed suicide.

    Clarence Norris died in January 1989, the last of the surviving Scottsboro Boys

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

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