The Scottsboro Trials

Main

All 9 Boys are arrested

3/25/1931

Posse stops Southern Railroad train in Paint Rock, Alabama. Scottsboro boys are arrested on charges of assault. Rape charges are added against all nine boys after accusations are made by Victoria Price and Ruby Bates.

The trail begin

4/6/1931 - 4/9/1931

Trials begin in Scottboro before Judge A. E. Hawkins. Eight of the nine men were given death sentence,despite the fact one of the men was blind, another underage,and that they were not even in the same rail car. Clarence Norris, Charlie Weems, Haywood Patterson, Olen Montgomery, Ozie Powell, Willie Roberson, Eugene Williams, and Andy Wright are tried and convicted, and sentenced to death. The trial of Roy Wright ends in a mistrial when some jurors hold out for a death sentence even though the prosecution asked for life imprisonment.

Executions may be appealed

6/22/1931

Executions are stayed pending appeal to Alabama Supreme Court.

A letter of denial

1/5/1932

Ruby Bates, in a letter to a Earl Streetman, denies that she was raped.

Reversed convictions

3/1932

Alabama Supreme Court, by a vote of 6-1, affirms the convictions of seven of the boys. The conviction of Eugene Williams is reversed on the grounds that he was a juvenile under state law in 1931.

Fresh eyes on the case

5/1932

The U. S. Supreme Court announces that it will review the Scottsboro cases.

A new trail

11/1932

The Supreme Court, by a vote of 7-2, reverses the convictions of the Scottsboro boys in Powell vs. Alabama. Grounds for reversal are that Alabama failed to provide adequate assistance of counsel as required by the due process clause of the 14th Amendment.

The second trails begin

3/27/1933 - 4/9/1933

Haywood Patterson's second trial begins in Decatur before judge James Horton. Haywood Patterson found guilty by jury and sentenced to death in the electric chair.

The trails postponed

4/18/1933

Judge Horton postpones the trials of the other Scottsboro boys because of dangerously high local tensions.

Yet another trail

6/22/1933

Judge Horton sets aside Haywood Patterson's conviction and grants a new trial.

A new judge

10/20/1933

The Scottsboro cases are removed from Judge Horton's jurisdiction and transferred to Judge William Callahan's court.

Convicted again

11/1933 - 12/1933

Haywood Patterson and Clarence Norris are tried for rape, convicted, and sentenced to death.

bribery

10/1934

two lawyers are charged with attempting to bribe Victoria Price in order to change her testimony.

convictions overturned again

4/1/1935

The U.S. Supreme Court overturns the convictions of Norris and Patterson because African Americans were excluded from sitting on the juries in their trials

convicted a 4th time

1/23/1936

Haywood Patterson is convicted for a fourth time of rape and is sentenced to 75 years in prison.

more convictions

7/1937

Clarence Norris is convicted of rape and sentenced to death. Andy Wright is convicted and sentenced to 99 years for rape. Charlie Weems is convicted and sentenced to 75 years. Ozzie Powell pleads guilty to assaulting the sheriff and is sentenced to 20 years.

charges dropped

7/24/1937

Roy Wright, Eugene Williams, Olen Montgomery and Willie Roberson were released after all charges were dropped against them.

reviews denied

10/26/1937

The U.S. Supreme Court declines to review the Patterson and Norris convictions.

death sentence reduced

7/5/1938

Clarence Norris's death sentence is reduced to life in prison by Governor Graves.

pardons denied

8/1938

Alabama Pardon Board declines to pardon Patterson and Powell.

3 more pardons denied

10/1938

Pardon Board denies the pardon applications of Norris, Weems, and Roy Wright.

1st parole

9/1943

Charlie Weems is paroled.

more paroles

1/1944

Norris and Andy Wright are paroled.

paroles violated

9/1944

Norris and Wright leave Montgomery in violation of their paroles.

Norris is returned to prison.

10/1944

Ozzie Powell is paroled.

6/1946

Norris, paroled again, leaves Alabama.

9/1946

Andy Wright is returned to Kilby prison.

10/1946

Haywood Patterson escapes from prison

7/1948

Patterson gets caught

6/1950

Andy Wright is paroled. FBI arrests Patterson, but Michigan's governor refuses extradition to Alabama.

Charged with murder

12/1950

Patterson is involved in a barroom fight resulting in the death of another man. He is charged with murder.

Convicted of murder

9/1951

Patterson is convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 6 to 15 years. He dies of cancer less than a year later.

Last boy pardoned

10/1976

Clarence Norris is pardoned by Alabama Governor George Wallace.