DECATUR, Ala., April 2.--The jury which will begin hearing evidence tomorrow in the Scottboro case prepared for the task ahead today by attending the services at St. John's Episcopal Church in a body.
There they heard a sermon on tolerance delivered by the Rev. Peter M. Dennis, the rector, who avoided any direct reference to the trial which has agitated this North Alabama community much less, in many respects, than other sections of the country.
Most of the members of the jury, chosen from a venire of white men after the lawyers defending the nine accused Negroes had waged an unsuccessful fight against exclusion of Negro talesmen, are Methodists or Baptists, but they attended the Episcopal Church at the suggestion of Eugene E. Graves, the banker member of the jury, who is a vestryman of St. John's.
"We must enlarge our vision, we must banish hatred and hypocrisy," the Rev. Mr. Dennis told the congregation of which the jury, seated in the last two pews, was a part.
Most of the rector's sermon dealt with the "inconsistency" of American policy in protesting the Japanese invasion of Manchuria and forgetting the sending of marines to Nicaragua. But he added:
"We, all of us, and I am speaking particularly to ourselves right here in Decatur, need to open our hearts to the heavenly spirit and to put away the things that led well-fed bodies and starved souls to nail the Lamb of God to the Cross on Calvary."
After church the jurors, three farmers and nine townsmen, went for a stroll. One member sent home for his radio set and had it installed in the jury's suite at the Hotel Lyons, where they are quartered. Another, who is a barber by trade, had a busman's holiday by shaving some of his fellow jurors.
Meanwhile the nine prisoners, charged with attacking Ruby Bates and Mrs. Victoria Price on a freight train near Scottsboro two years ago amused themselves in the Morgan County jail by singing work songs in their cells, from which they can see the timbers of a gallows no longer used.
Of the group, the only one actually on trial is Haywood Patterson, who, according to the evidence the State plans to present to the jury beginning tomorrow morning, was the ringleader of the gang. He was indicted jointly with the others, but the State obtained a severance in order to try him alone.
Patterson is charged with attacking the twice-married Price woman, who will be the main witness for the State. The other white girl alleged to have been attacked by the Negroes has been missing from her Huntsville home for a month and, so far as has been learned, remains unfound.
Samuel S. Leibowitz, the New York criminal lawyer defending the Negroes, whose original conviction and sentence of death were reversed by the United States Supreme Court in a decision which received little publicity in Alabama, expects the cross-examination of the State's star witness to consume the better part of a full court session.
That he intends to delve deeply into her past was indicated during his examination of prospective jurymen, when asked if they would take into consideration in weighing the credibility of a witness the kind of life that witness had led, even if it happened to be a woman.
Attorney General Knight also expects Mr. Leibowitz to use all his skill as a cross-examiner in questioning Mrs. Price.
The lawyer's questioning of talesmen on Friday also brought to light the significant but hitherto scarcely known fact that Ruby Bates formerly lived here. One of the veniremen, in responding to the New York lawyer's questions said he had known the Bates girl when she lived here nine years ago.
"Make a note of that," Mr. Leibowitz said to one of his assistants with an expression of surprise.
Chief of Police Rigsby received a telegram today demanding the "unconditional release" of Muriel Rukeyser and the two men taken into custody yesterday for investigation and released.
The telegram was signed by the National Students League, of which Miss Rukeyser said she was a member. No charges of any kind were made against the three New Yorkers and they were detained only a few hours. They were ordered to appear before Judge James E. Horton tomorrow when the trial is resumed.
By the time the telegram was received the visitors from New York had left town along with several others who came here in the capacity of "obvserver" in the trial of a case which the International Labor Defense and its Communist affiliates have been used as propaganda for organizaiton work among the Negroes. It was understood that the exodus was ordered by Mr. Leibowitz as a condition of his continuing as trial counsel.
Explaining his attitude, Mr. Leibowitz said:
"I am not interested in the affairs of the Republican
party, the Democratic party, the Socialist party, the Communist party or
any other group in the conduct of this case. I am interested solely in
saving these innocent boys from the electric chair, and I will do my best
to see that their case is not endangered by propaganda or agitation from
any quarter. I have ordered the irresponsibles away and they must stay