Contempt of Court: The Turn-of-the-Century Lynching That Launched a Hundred Years of Federalism

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9780385720823: Contempt of Court: The Turn-of-the-Century Lynching That Launched a Hundred Years of Federalism
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In this profound and fascinating book, the authors revisit an overlooked Supreme Court decision that changed forever how justice is carried out in the United States.
In 1906, Ed Johnson was the innocent black man found guilty of the brutal rape of Nevada Taylor, a white woman, and sentenced to die in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Two black lawyers, not even part of the original defense, appealed to the Supreme Court for a stay of execution, and the stay, incredibly, was granted. Frenzied with rage at the decision, locals responded by lynching Johnson, and what ensued was a breathtaking whirlwind of groundbreaking legal action whose import, Thurgood Marshall would claim, "has never been fully explained." Provocative, thorough, and gripping, Contempt of Court is a long-overdue look at events that clearly depict the peculiar and tenuous relationship between justice and the law.

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Prior to 1906, the U.S. Supreme Court had never tried a criminal case--and the high court had yet to assert its power over state criminal courts. That was all to change after the events of a cold January night earlier that year in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Blond, beautiful, 21-year-old Nevada Taylor had hopped on one of Chattanooga's new electric trolleys after work. Before she could reach home, the young woman was waylaid and raped by an unknown assailant. At first Taylor couldn't describe her attacker to town sheriff Joseph Shipp, as she hadn't seen the man clearly, but she soon became convinced he was "a Negro with a soft, kind voice." In just 17 days, a drifter dubbed a "Negro fiend" by the Chattanooga News had been hastily arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to hang.

Two idealistic black lawyers intervened, filing appeals to the state and ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court, citing the numerous rights denied the most-likely innocent Ed Johnson. (One of the attorneys said of the suspect, "But for the will of God, that is me.") The high court agreed to hear the appeal, staying the Tennessee execution. But back in Chattanooga, the politically minded Sheriff Shipp looked the other way as a bloodthirsty crowd of hundreds broke Johnson out of jail, beat him brutally, and lynched him on the county bridge.

Mark Curriden, a legal writer for the Dallas Morning News, and Leroy Phillips, a Chattanooga trial attorney, have painstakingly researched and vividly recounted the events of this oft-overlooked but significant episode in America's legal history, from the details of the original crime to the eventual federal conviction of Shipp and members of the lynch mob for contempt. A superb combination of journalistic storytelling and academic rigor. --Paul Hughes

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?Curriden and Phillips?have woven?detail with a tragic story line to create an important book that is also a compelling read."?Chattanooga Free Press

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Book Description Anchor Books, United States, 2001. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. In this profound and fascinating book, the authors revisit an overlooked Supreme Court decision that changed forever how justice is carried out in the United States. In 1906, Ed Johnson was the innocent black man found guilty of the brutal rape of Nevada Taylor, a white woman, and sentenced to die in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Two black lawyers, not even part of the original defense, appealed to the Supreme Court for a stay of execution, and the stay, incredibly, was granted. Frenzied with rage at the decision, locals responded by lynching Johnson, and what ensued was a breathtaking whirlwind of groundbreaking legal action whose import, Thurgood Marshall would claim, has never been fully explained. Provocative, thorough, and gripping, Contempt of Court is a long-overdue look at events that clearly depict the peculiar and tenuous relationship between justice and the law. Seller Inventory # AAC9780385720823

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Book Description Anchor Books, United States, 2001. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. In this profound and fascinating book, the authors revisit an overlooked Supreme Court decision that changed forever how justice is carried out in the United States. In 1906, Ed Johnson was the innocent black man found guilty of the brutal rape of Nevada Taylor, a white woman, and sentenced to die in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Two black lawyers, not even part of the original defense, appealed to the Supreme Court for a stay of execution, and the stay, incredibly, was granted. Frenzied with rage at the decision, locals responded by lynching Johnson, and what ensued was a breathtaking whirlwind of groundbreaking legal action whose import, Thurgood Marshall would claim, has never been fully explained. Provocative, thorough, and gripping, Contempt of Court is a long-overdue look at events that clearly depict the peculiar and tenuous relationship between justice and the law. Seller Inventory # AAC9780385720823

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