Accused of Assault


The story of the Scottsboro Trial begins on March 25th, 1931. On the top of a moving train in Alabama, a fight erupted between a group of white teenagers and a group of black teenagers. One of the white boys that was forced off the train went to the town of Stevenson to report that he and the rest of the group had been assaulted by a group of black teenage boys. The information was relayed to the conductor of the train, and the train was stopped. The nine black teenage boys who, would later become known as the "Scottsboro Boys", were all arrested.

Accused of Rape


Later that day, two white teenage girls, Victoria Price and Ruby Bates, reported that they had been raped by a group of 12 black teenage boys. At the jail, the two girls pointed out six of the nine boys that had been arrested earlier that day, saying that those were some of the boys who took part in the rape.

The Trials



The first trial began on April 6th, 1931. Overseeing the case was judge A.E Hawkins. Also, the sentences were to be decided by an all white jury. Defending the boys were Steven Roddy and Milo Moody. In the original trial, six of the nine boys being convicted denied raping and even seeing the two girls. However, three of the boys stated that the six did in face rape the two girls. They stated this because they were threatened and beaten by white policemen. At the end of the first trial, all nine of the boys were found guilty, and all but twelve year old Roy Wright were sentenced to death. Then, on April 9th, Judge Hawkins and Alabama governer Ben Miller recieved a telegram from the International Labor Defense, demanding a re-trial because the boys did not have a fair trial because of inadiquite representation and a prejudiced jury. In january of 1932, the ILD presented their appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court. The court did not grant them another trial, so the ILD brought their appeal to the US Supreme Court. The court allowed the boys to have a new, fair trial. In the second trial, which took place in March of 1933, the boys were defended by New York attorney Samuel Leibowitz. Looking over the case was Judge James Horton. Prosecuting the case was Alabama Attorney General Thomas Knight Jr. The two girls were finally beginning to break down, as their stories were not the same like they were in the first trial. However, Leibowitz got six of the boys to testify and their stories all held together. Leibowitz called Lester Carter, one of the men who he claimed was with the two girls the night before March 25th, to the stand. Carter confirmed that he was with the two girls. After Carter finished his testimony, Leibowitz called a suprise witness to the stand; Ruby Bates. This time, Bates denied ever being raped, touched, or even spoken to by the boys. However, the boys were once again found guilty and 8 of them were once again sentenced to death. Then, on June 22, 1933, Judge Horton threw out the verdicts and demanded a new trial, because evidence proved that the girls could not have been raped on the train. New trials were set for November of 1933, and Judge William Callahan would be overseeing the case. Callahan banned cameras from the courtroom and would not lend the defendents protection by the National Guard. Tension of the trial was rising, as there was a series of lynchings throughout the south. Leibowitz once again asked for a mistrial due to the exclusion of blacks from the jury. Judge Callahan denied it, however there was a handwriting expert who testified that someone had tampered with the jury rolls. Judge Callahan didn't even give the defense a fair chance to present their case, so once again the boys were found guilty. A few months later, Nashville police arrested two lawyers affiliated with the communist party for attempting to bribe Price. Leibowitz then joined with the NAACP and the ACLU to form the Scottsboro Defense Committee. On April 1st, 1935, The U.S Supreme Court ruled that the jury rolls were tampered with and that black were unfairly excluded from serving on juries in the courts that the trials had been held. Members of the defense committee felt that Leibowitz had worn out his welcome, he agreed to leave the job to local attorney Clarence Watts. The final trial began on January 6th, 1936, and Judge Callahan was once again presiding. Blacks were finally allowed in the jury, however they were segregated in the court and could not sit with the white members.

The Final Verdicts


Haywood Patterson was found guilty and recieved 75 years in prison. Clarence Norris was convicted and sentenced to death. Andy Wright was sentenced to 99 years in prison, and Charlie Weems was sentenced to 75 years. Going back to the prison defendant Ozie Powell Stabbed a deputy. His rape charges were dropped, but he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for his assault on the officer. Right after he recieved his sentence, the remaining charges were dropped. Eugene Williams, Olen Montgomery, Willie Rberson, and Roy Wright were all set free. Eventually, all of the boys except Haywood Patterson were released on parole. Norris violated his parole and left Alabama. He was found in 1976 in New York City with a wife and two children. He returned to Alabama to recieve his pardon. In 1948, Haywood Patterson escaped to michigan, where he was caught by the FBI in 1950. He was not forced to return to Alabama.

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