Scottsboro Timeline

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    Scottsboro: The First Three Trials

  • The Incident in Paints Rock

    Nine black males are arrested in Paints Rock, AL for the alleged assault of a group of white males on a train heading to Chattanooga, TN. Then, Ruby Bates and Victoria Price arrive and accuse the Boys of rape. The Boys are tied and taken to the Scottsboro County Jail, where they were nearly attacked by a lynch mob the next morning.
  • The First Trial

    First trials take place before Judge A.E. Hawkins in the Scottsboro County Courthouse. The Boys are tried in 4 groups over the group of 4 days. All but Roy Wright (the youngest, hung jury) were sentenced to death and sent to Kilby Prison.
  • The NAACP and ILD Get Involved

    Progressive organizations like the NAACP and ILD caught wind of the Boys plight and began battling for control of the Boys' defense. Despite the power struggles, both organizations raised enough funds, support, and publicity to result in a stay of executions for all the Boys on June 22, and a set date for an appeal before the Alabama Supreme Court.
  • A Turn of Events

    Three days after the NAACP withdrew from the case, a letter from Ruby Bates to her boyfriend surfaces, in which she denies having ever been raped or knowing the Boys prior to accusing them.
  • Powell v. Alabama

    After reviewing the ILD's request for an appeal, the Alabama Supreme Court upheld the Boys' convictions in a 6-1 vote, only allowing Eugene Williams a retrial due to his young age. Three months later, the U.S. Supreme Court will agree to review the trial.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court's Review

    On May 27, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the Scottsboro Case. In Novemeber, they ruled 7-2 in favor of a retrial for all the Boys on grounds of the defendants' being denied access to counsel (flagrant violation of 14th Amendment). The ILD offer the case to Samuel Leibowitz, who accepts despite warnings of the controversial nature of the case and the ILD's inability to pay him a full salary. The retrials are set to take place under Judge James Horton in Decatur, AL.
  • The Second Trials

    Leibowitz wins a motion to have all nine boys tried separately. Paterson is the first to appear in court. With the ILD's help, Ruby Bates, who had run away, is located in New York and convinced to serve as a witness for the Boys. Dr. Bridges, the medical examiner who saw Price and Bates after the alleged rape, admits on the bench that neither woman showed signs of forced rape. Despite the new evidence, Paterson is still sentenced to death on April 9.
  • A Victory for the Boys

    After postponing the next eight trials due to high tensions in Decatur and amidst protest marches over Paterson's verdict, Horton admirably chooses to overturn Paterson's sentence due to hs own doubts. The case is then transferred out of Decatur to Judge William Callahan's court.
  • Retrials Under Callahan

    In November and December, all the Boys (save Eugene Williams and Roy Wright, who were transferred to juvenile court) are retried under Callahan, a blatant racist who went out of his way to thwart Leibowitz's efforts in the courtroom. After Norris and Paterson once again recieve death sentences, Leibowitz attempts to postpone the remaining trials to no avail. All nine boys receive either life sentence or death by electric chair and are returned to Kilby.
  • Troubles for Judge Horton

    James Horton is defeated in his campaign for re-election to serve as Judge for the Eighth Circuit court of Alabama, most likely due to his involvement with and support of the Scottsboro Boys in their trials.
  • ILD Bribery Incident

    A man named J.T. Pearson claiming to legally represent Victoria Price writes the ILD and states Price would be interested in recanting her statement for money. Pearson then contacts Price, who, though uninterested in the bribe, agrees to play along at police instructions. The ILD lawyers agree to meet Pearson in Nashville, but are arrested by a police stakeout on the road. Pearson is arrested at the hotel after being ratted out by Price.
  • Second Review by the SCOTUS

    After Norris and Paterson are reconvicted and their sentences upheld by the Alabama Supreme Court, the U.S. Supreme Court once again agrees to review the most recent developments in the Scottsboro trials.
  • Norris v. Alabama

    In this landmark case, The U.S. Supreme Court rules to overturn Clarence Norris and Haywood Paterson's verdicts on grounds of Alabama courts' exclusion of colored individuals from serving on the jury.
  • Scottsboro Defense Committee

    After the ILD Bribery Incident, Leibowitz is forced to resign from the defense team. He retaliates by joining with defense heavyweights like Allan Chalmers to form the Scottsboro Defense Committee. The SDC combats the International Defense Committee over control of the Boys' defense.
  • Four Strikes for Paterson

    Haywood Paterson is tried and convicted of rape for a fourth time, with a death verdict.
  • Powell Shot by Deputy

    Ozie Powell and [ ] were being transported from the most recent sentencing at the courthouse back to Kilby in a police car. The driver, Sheriff Jay Sandlin, began antagonizing the two Boys and slapped Powell on the head. Powell retaliated by slashing Sandlin with a small pocketknife he had hidden. The Deputy Sheriff Edgar Blalock then shot Powell in the head with a pistol. Powell survived, but suffered major brain damage and nver regained full cognative functionality.
  • Compromises in New York

    Thomas Knight, Leibowitz, and Callahan meet in New York to discuss a possible compromise in the trials. At this point, Knight no longer believed Victoria Price's accusations but believed the Boys deserved some jail time for assaulting the white males on the train in 1931. The men decide on pardons for four of the Boys and reduced sentences for the other five.
  • Death of Thomas E. Knight

    Thomas Knight passed away in May of 1937, after serving as attourney general in various Scottsboro trials from 1931 through 1935 and serving as Lieutenant Governor of Alabama from 1935 until his death. The compromise he had planned with Liebowitz was never completed after his death, as his successor feared "looking soft on rape".
  • Retrials in July

    Throughout July, Clarence Norris, Andy Wright, Charlie Weems, and Ozie Powell are retried under Callahan. Due to Knight's untimely death, the reduced sentences promised to these Boys are not delivered. Norris is once again given death penalty, Wright is sentenced to 99 years in prison, Weems is sentenced to 75 years, and Powell pleads guilty to attacking a deputy and is sentenced to 20 years.
  • Partial Pardons

    The morning of July 24, Alabama's Governor Graves issued full pardons for Roy Wright, Eugene Williams, Olen Montgomery and Willie Roberson as the evidence supporting their innocence is too weighty to ignore. The sentences for the remaining Boys are upheld.
  • Norris's Sentence Reduced

    After voting to uphold Norris's death sentence in July 1937, Governor Graves finally agreed to reduce Norris's sentence to life in prison on July 5, 1938