January 23, 1936


Asking Chair for Negro, Prosecutor Demands Protection for Alabama Women


Defense Takes Exception to Judge's Comments as He Reads Requested Charges

By F. Raymond Daniell
Special to the New York Times

DECATUR, Ala., Jan. 22.

    Haywood Patterson's fourth trial for his life on a charge of rape ended today, as have all the other trials in the famous Scottsboro case, the an appeal to the passions of the jury.

    Summing up for the prosecution, Melvin C. Hutson, the local solicitor, told the jurors that the womanhood of Alabama was looking to them for "protection."  If Patterson were not made to pay with his life for a crime of which he was innocent, Mr. Hutson said, the women of the State would "have to go around with six-shooters" to protect themselves.

    "Don't go out and quibble over the evidence," roared the young successor to Wade Wright.  "Say to yourselves 'we're tired of this job and put it behind you.  Get it done quick and protect the fair womanhood of this great State.'"

    It was nearly 5:30 P.M. when the closing arguments by Mr. Hutson, Thomas E. Knight Jr., Lieutenant Governor and special prosecutor, and of Clarence L. Watts, a defense attorney, were completed.  Judge W.W. Callahan, whom the defense had charged with bias and prejudicial conduct repeatedly throughout the trial, left it to the jury to decide whether to return after dinner to hear his charge or wait until tomorrow morning.

    "Let's come back tonight and get it over with," one of the farmers on the jury shouted and his fellows indicated their approval.  Judge Callahan then declared a recess until 7:30 P.M.

Defense Objections Overruled

    A panel of 100 talesmen has been drawn for the Norris trial and Judge Callahan yesterday interrupted Patterson's trial to draw venire men to sit in judgment of Charlie Williams and Andy Wright next week.  He did this in full view of the jury trying Patterson's case and this morning Mr. Watts asked Judge Callahan to declare a mistrial on the ground that bringing the Negroes manacled into court was prejudicial.

    Angrily denying the motion, Judge Callahan pointed out that the defense had registered no objection when he announced what he was going to do.  Mr. Watts quickly renewed his motion on the ground that the mere announcement was sufficient basis for a mistrial and Judge Callahan, with rising choler denied the motion.

   "I now move," began Mr. Watts, but Judge Callahan cut him short declaring that he "did not want to hear any further argument" and that the court would "not be tampered with."  Twice later in the day the defense moved unsuccessfully for mistrial because of the testimony of the Negro defendants.

    Before the closing arguments began, the defense succeeded in reading into the record the testimony of Dr. R.R. Bridges, a physician who examined Victoria Price, the complaining witness, within an hour after she was taken from the freight train on which she ways she was assaulted by a dozen negroes.

Physician Contradicts Woman.

    Dr. Bridges, a Scottsboro physician, was too ill to come to court, but he testified before Judge James E. Horton at one of Patterson's earlier trials that the woman's pulse and breathing were normal and that her body showed no sign of cuts and bruises with which she testified at this trial that she was covered.

    The doctor had testified also that he found physical indications which Judge Callahan refused to permit the defense to prove might have been accounted for by events which happened in a hobo jungle in Chattanooga the night before Ruby Bates and Mrs. Price hoboed their way home to Huntsville with their escorts.

    One of these, Lester Carter, testified today that he was with the girls aboard the freight train when a fight broke out between colored and white vagrants who were also on the train.  It was immaterial, Judge Callahan ruled, whether he and Orville Gilley had spent the night with Ruby and Mrs. Price.

    Later when Mr. Knight was extracting in detail from Carter the various stages of his wanderings from coast to coast, Samuel S. Leibowitz, chief defense counsel protested.  Judge Callahan held that the evidence was admissible.  Mr. Leibowitz inquired why he had not been permitted to trace the movements of Victoria Price prior to the alleged attack and Judge Callahan threatened to cite him for contempt.

    "I won't have insinuations that you were denied something that somebody else got," he shouted.

    Carter was permitted to testify, however, that he overheard one of the white hoboes while she was in jail at Scottsboro to pretend that he was her brother.  Carter said he had given up hobo life and was now a laborer for the Board of Education in New York.

Patterson on the Stand.

    Patterson next took the stand.  Over and over he denied that he had touched Mrs. Price or Ruby Bates, or that he had even seen any woman n the train.  The white hoboes had been throwing stones at him and the "other colored," he explained, and he had fought with them "to make them stop bothering us."

    Mr. Hutson, cross examining the defendant, blustered and stormed about the court room, repeating the Negro's answers to his questions with obvious scorn and disbelief in his voice and manner.  Sometimes he didn't wait for Patterson to answer one question before he asked another, and he frequently attributed words to the witness that the Negro had not uttered.

    At last the local prosecutor fell back upon the Record of the original trials at Scottsboro, although Mr. Leibowitz protested that the record was inadmissible on the ground that the Supreme Court of the United States had declared the whole proceeding illegal because the defendants were not adequately represented there by counsel . . . .

Hutson Addresses Jury.

    It was then that (Mr. Hutson) made his appeal for the protection of womanhood, and he warned the jurors that when they had rendered their verdict and gone home they would have to face their neighbors.  his voice rose to a crescendo as he choked back a sob evoked by his own eloquence in lauding the martyrdom of Victoria Price.

    "She fights for the rights of the womanhood of Alabama," he shouted.

    "Mr. Watts, a prominent attorney in the home town of Mrs. Price, made a calm and detailed analysis of the evidence submitted, asserting that the story told by Mrs. Price had been refuted by the State's own witnesses "and contradicted by the physical facts of the case."  Rape was a crime of secrecy, not one committed in broad daylight in full view of the public highway by a dozen men strangers to each other . . . .

    He too urged the jurors to weigh the evidence with common sense and in answer to Mr. Hutson's plea for the protection of womanhood appealed for "protection of the innocent."

    "It takes courage to do the right thing in the face of public clamor for the wrong thing, but when justice is not administered fairly, governments disintegrate and there is no protection for any one, man or woman, black or white."

    "Mr. Knight, who had the last word for the prosecution, summed up briefly and with restraint, confining himself to the evidence and arguing that all the testimony submitted, save that of Patterson himself, tended to bear out the complainant's story . . . .

January 24, 1936



Alabama Court Lets Verdict Wait Until the Selection of Norris Jury is Over

By F. Raymond Daniell
Special to the New York Times

DECATUR, Ala., Jan. 23.

    The first break in the succession of death verdicts returned against Haywood Patterson, one of nine Negro Defendants in the Scottsboro case, came today when a Morgan County jury found him "guilty as charged," and fixed his punishment at seventy-five years in the penitentiary.

    To persons unfamiliar with the bitterness with which the case has been surrounded the verdict may seem a Pyrrhic victory, but to Samuel S. Leibowitz, chief of the defense counsel, it was a real one.  Nevertheless, he declared, he would fight on and appeal each conviction until each of the accused Negroes is freed.

    The jury reached its verdict after exactly eight hours and reported to Judge William Callahan in a tense and crowded court room less than two minutes after twelve other men - all white -  had been sworn to pass on the fate of Clarence Norris, another of the defendants.  The two juries filed past each other in the court room, the one with a verdict found and the other supposedly with open minds.

Patterson Is Disappointed.

When the jurors in his case sent word to Judge Callahan that they were ready to report, Patterson heard the news with a sidelong glance of contempt.  Three times he has heard jury foremen decree his death in the electric chair on a charge of attacking a woman.  This time he was sure the verdict would be death and told his lawyers so.  Later he expressed displeasure with the finding.

    "I'd rather die," he said, "than spend another day in jail for something I didn't do."

    His accuser, Victoria Price, a mill hand from the neighboring county of Huntsville, likewise was disappointed.

    "'Twant fair," she repeated over and over, as she came from the witness room, as she came from the witness room, where a few minutes before, while the crowd was waiting to hear the verdict, she had been heard laughing.  Tomorrow morning she is scheduled to take the witness stand again and testify against Norris, who twice before has been condemned to death.

    At 4:35, when the jury sent word that it was ready to report, Judge Callahan was selecting a jury for the Norris trial, and the court room was filled with prospective jurors whose minds, the law presumes, might be influenced by hearing a verdict in the case of a co-defendant of the man whose life is in their hands.

Jury Waits to Report Verdict.

    Judge Callahan explained to John Burleson, foreman of the Patterson jury, that he was in the midst of something that could not be postponed and hustled the jury into a vacant witness room.  There they waited while the selection of the Norris jury was completed at 5:10.

    The Patterson jury lined up before Judge Callahan in silence while the new jury got up from the box and shuffled out to the witness room.  One of the jurors stumbled a little over Patterson's legs.  The judge called for the verdict and the foreman handed him a folded slip of paper.

    "We, the jury find the defendant Haywood Patterson guilty as charged and fix his punishment at seventy-five years in prison," read the clerk.

    The judge took the paper back and studied it with wrinkled brow.

    "The proper form of the verdict should be 'penitentiary" where the word 'prison' is used," he said.  "Of course it is merely a technicality but if the defense does not object I will ask the jury if they intended to say penitentiary . . . ."


Scottsboro Committee Attacks Verdict as Challenge to the Nation.

    Declaring that the verdict of guilty against Haywood Patterson was a "challenge to the conscience of the nation," representing six organizations, declared last night that it will continue to aid the defense in a "fight to the finish."

    The organizations represented on the committee are the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the League for Industrial Democracy, the Church League for Industrial Democracy (Episcopal), the International Labor Defense and the Methodist Federation for Social Service.

    "The conviction is an outrage," said the committee in a statement, "but does not come as a surprise to those persons who have watched the proceedings in Decatur.  The atmosphere in which the trial was conducted was dominated by a cold and deliberate effort toward but one conclusion, the condemnation of innocent boys regardless of all evidence.  It is an injury and must be of grave concern to the people of Alabama, no less than to those of all America.

    :the sentence of seventy-five years is no more lenient than a death sentence.  It seems to use that this conviction is a challenge to the conscience of the nation.

    "Needless to say, this committee and the people who are supporting it will continue to conduct the defense with redoubled vigor and all the resources we can command.  We invite every one who has been stirred by the shame and blot of these cases on our country to join with us in a determined fight to the finish."

    The Rev. Dr. Allan Knight Chalmers, pastor of Broadway Tabernacle Church, is chairman of the committee.

January 25, 1936


Ozie Powell, Armed With Knife Smuggled to Him in Jail, Attacks Deputy in Car


Prisoner 'Feared Murder' on Way Back to Birmingham-- Governor Orders Inquiry.

By F. Raymond Daniell
Special to the New York Times

DECATUR, Ala., Jan. 24

    Ozie Powell, one of the nine Negro defendants in the Scottsboro case, was shot in the head and critically wounded this afternoon in an apparent attempt to escape, after Judge W.W. Callahan had sentenced Haywood Patterson to seventy-five years' imprisonment and adjourned the rest of the trials indefinitely.

    Powell was shot while handcuffed to two other prisoners, Roy Wright and Clarence Norris, in an automobile driven by Sheriff J. Street Sadlin of Morgan County, who was taking them back to the Jefferson County jail in Birmingham.  The shooting occurred after Powell allegedly slashed the neck of Edgar Blalock, a deputy sheriff, with a knife which was smuggled to him during his stay in the local jail.  The attempted escape was staged on the downgrade of Lacon Mountain, about twelve miles this side of Cullman, about 2 P.M., less than an hour after the nine Negroes left Decatur in three automobiles escorted by two carloads of State highway patrolmen.  According to Highway Patrolman J.T. Bryant, both the Negroes with Powell joined in the attempt to escape.

Prisoners Searched on Road.

    Lieutenant Governor Thomas E, Knight Jr., former Attorney General, who is the special prosecutor of the Scottsboro cases, was driving behind the motorcade of prisoners and their escorts when the shooting of Powell occurred.  He left his car and ordered his Negro chauffeur to take Blalock to the hospital in Cullman while he supervised a search of the Negroes on the roadside.

    The deputy sheriff was bleeding badly from a wound in his neck, but Dr. R.A. Culpepper of Cullman, whop treated the injured man, said that he was not critically wounded.  Powell, with a bullet in his brain, was taken on to Birmingham, a distance of seventy-odd miles, still handcuffed to Wright, one of the juvenile defendants, and Norris, whose trial ws postponed indefinitely today because of the failure of opposing lawyers to agree upon the manner of introducing the testimony of a witness who was too ill to come to court.

    At Birmingham, Powell, still conscious, ws taken to Hillman Hospital, a Jefferson County institution, for an emergency operation to remove the bullet, which had penetrated the upper part of his skull and buried itself an inch deep in his brain.  The operation was performed by Dr. Wilmot Littlejohn, a Birmingham brain specialist.

    The bullet was successfully removed from Powell's head and late tonight he was reported to be "sleeping comfortably."

    Dr. Culpepper said that Deputy Blalock's wound was about six inches long and that it required twelve sutures to close it.  Unless the wound became infected, he said, it should cause no trouble.

    Sheriff Sandlin returned here tonight and declared that if he and Blalock had "not been men enough to take care" of themselves they would have been killed.  The Sheriff said that both Wright and Powell had knives although officials earlier had said that only Powell was armed.

    The authorities said they had the name of the Negro delivery boy who smuggled the weapons into the jail, but had been unable to find him in town.

    The scuffle which resulted in Powell's shooting occurred in the middle car of the motorcade of three.  Sheriff Sandlin was driving and Deputy Blalock was on the front seat with him.

    The Negroes rode behind them.  suddenly, just before the cars passed over the Morgan County line into Cullman, Powell, whose right hand was free, whipped out a knife and drew it across Blalock's throat, according to Patrolman Bryant, who saw the scuffle from the car behind.

    The doors of the Sheriff's car were locked from the inside and before Sheriff Sandlin could stop the machine, according to the patrolman, the three manacled Negroes were upon the Sheriff and his deputy.  The policemen said that Powell seized Blalock's gun with his free had but lost hold of it before he could do any harm.  In the ensuing scuffle, Patrolman Bryant said "the gun went off" and Powell was shot.

    By this time Patrolman Bryant had succeeded in opening up the auto doors with the aid of Thomas E. Lawson, a Deputy Attorney General, and Jack, the latter's Negro chauffeur, a trusty from Kilby prison.  There on the road a few feet from G.F. Anderson's filling station at the top of Lacon Mountain, the Negro prisoners were taken from the three cars and searched for weapons.

Paid Knife Smuggler 35 Cents.

    The knife which Powell had used was found o the back seat of the car in which he had been riding.  It was a "Switz knife," with a blade about four inches long and a handle of about the same length, according to Patrolman Bryant.  Powell said later that he had paid the Decatur Negro thirty-five cents to smuggle the weapon to him in the Morgan County jail

    He assaulted Deputy Sheriff Blalock, he said, in a desperate attempt to escape because he believed that the authorities were plotting to murder him and his fellow defendants on the way back to Birmingham.

    None of the other Negroes was injured when they arrived at the jail in Birmingham,, Mr. Blalock returned to his home in Decatur after treatment.

    News of the shooting spread rapidly over the whole countryside between here and Birmingham and there were little clusters of overalled farmers around the telephones of the general stores along the Montgomery highway, all seeking information.  The report most generally credited at first was that a sniper had killed Haywood Patterson, but this proved baseless . . . .

New Jury Had Been Chosen.

    The trial of Norris, for which a jury was chosen yesterday, was postponed after a brief court session this morning.  Victoria Price, the woman who says that she and Ruby Bates were attacked by all nine of the Negro defendants, held up the proceedings by arriving half an hour late, dressed in faded calico and a shabby overcoat.

    Lawyers for the State explained that she was suffering from the grippe.  Her face, usually made up liberally with cosmetics, was pale.  She made no secret of her disappointment that Patterson had not been condemned to death as he had been by the three earlier juries which found him guilty of her charges.

    It became apparent that the Norris trial had struck a snag which would postpone it indefinitely when Mr. Leibowitz and Lieut. Gov. Knight were unable to agree upon the form of a "showing" of the testimony of Dr. R.R. Bridges, who is near death in Scottsboro.  Neither the State nor the defense wanted to take the responsibility for bringing the doctor to court and Mr. Leibowitz said that in the absence of a "showing," or narrative abstract of his testimony at an earlier trial, he could not go on . . . .

    Patterson was brought into the court after the Norris jury was dismissed to have sentence pronounced upon him.  He stood erect before the bench as Judge Callahan said:

    "Haywood, a jury has found you guilty of the crime of rape and sentenced you to the penitentiary for seventy-five years.  Have you anything to say before I formally pronounce this sentence upon you?"

    "Yes, sir, Your Honor," said Patterson, "I am not guilty and I don't think justice has been done me in my case."