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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 innocnet 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 deision, 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.
|1||A Plea for Justice||3|
|2||Scene of the Crime||20|
|3||Someone Must Pay||34|
|4||Pretense of Law and Order||51|
|5||"Can You Swear It?"||78|
|6||The Jury's Verdict||110|
|7||Enter Noah Parden||130|
|8||The Appeals Begin||142|
|9||Writ of Habeas Corpus||154|
|10||The Supreme Court Intervenes||169|
|12||God Bless You All; I Am Innocent||198|
|13||The Honor of the Court||215|
|14||Secret Service Men||236|
|16||Sheriff Shipp on Trial||285|
|17||"Guilty, Guilty, Guilty!"||317|
|A Note on Sources||375|
|Sources for Illustrations||385|
Posted July 18, 2002
Fascinating and important text on a tragic but amazing story in American history. I had the opportunity to hear co-author Mark Curriden speak regarding the events described in the book and was moved to purchase the book. It is clearly an interesting book for lawyers and nonlawyers alike. It's many messages still ring true today. In particular, the message that the efforts of a few can truly make a difference. While attorneys Noah Walter Parden and Styles Linton Hutchins could not save Ed Johnson's life, they showed great courage in the face of the many barriers faced by African-Americans at the beginning of the 20th century. As a society, we owe a lot to the brave and tireless work of Parden and Hutchins.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 20, 2001
I finally read Contempt of Court and was truly moved. This is mandatory reading for anyone who thinks civil liberties are easily won or over-protected -- and I count myself among the conservatives, leery of many ACLU positions! I bought the hardback version of this book when it came out in 1999 and it had been sitting on my shelf until last month. As an attorney with connections to Chattanooga, I of course found the book fascinating. But it is a rewarding and easy read for non-attorneys and those with no interest in the law, as well, since it tells the tale of heroism in its least-often recognized form: good people, with good hearts, trying to change The System from within. It also shows the ugly side of history we are fond of forgetting, but must remember if we are to progress. Finally, it gives context to those who think they know the civil rights movement from more famous figures like MLK or DuBois, or more famous events in Washington or Alabama. Now an educator, I find myself recommending it to many students in search of inspiration and aspiration, ... especially if contemplating a career in the legal field or wanting to 'make a difference.' Parden, Hutchins and others are role models for our generation, if not for their own. The subjects of racism and federalism aside (which incidentally are still timely), it is a well-written book, as well. It balances a comfortable read with a well-referenced historical text, including lynching statistics in the appendix and photos from the time -- including haunting, vile ones of lynching as ostensibly a spectator sport. The authors do integrate their own opinions into the text, but that is what makes it powerful. Moreover, they quote extensively from the newspapers and legal records of the time, in an orderly, logical fashion, so you can draw your own conclusions, as well, and even sense the 'temper of the times.' Well done. I wish more books educated and inspired me in the same way.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 19, 2001
This book is a masterpiece. This story was so compelling to me, I was driven to launch a city wide community service project, to restore the abandoned cemetery where Mr.Johnson is buried. I, for the first time in my life and due solely to the information in this book,learned, during the planning, that my great grandfather is also buried at the same cemetery. This book is written with such great detail that one feels every emotion encountered on both sides of the racial lines that divided Chattanooga. I am honored to be mentioned in the paperback edition and I am greatful to the authors for sharing such a powerful yet enlightening piece of history. Lastly I am forever great to Leroy for such a passionate zeal to redeem the digity of a man that lived one hundred years ago. This book is a must for every home, school and library.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 18, 2011
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