Unhappy is the land that is in need of heroes.  --BERTOLT BRECHT
I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom. --BOB DYLAN
Trial Heroes
Bending Toward Justice
   by Doug Linder (c) 2000

"The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice."
    --Martin Luther King, Jr.

America needs heroes. Apart from their own achievements,  heroes can inspire others to act heroically: to sacrifice bravely, to reach for greatness, or to seek justice. 

The law is especially in need of heroes.  Lawyers today are held in low esteem by many members of the public.  They are the subject of countless jokes. Cynicism and even self-loathing are common maladies among lawyers today.

Students trained in law learn to look for ambiguity and begin to see the world in shades of gray, rather than as black or white.  It is easy to begin to believe that any action can be defended and that no action is above criticism.  "There is no such thing as justice," a law student might think, "only outcomes that are more or less pleasing."

The stories of law's heroes remind us that justice is real and that it matters.  Their stories challenge persons with lives in law to make their own professional careers better humankind in small or large ways.

This website is about heroes. 
In particular, it profiles individuals who have furthered the cause of racial justice at great cost or risk to themselves. 

Clicking on any of the five pictures to the left will bring you to a collection of essays, images, and other materials concerning an American hero.

Profiles of additional heroes will be added to this site over time.  If you have any comments or suggestions concerning this page, please send them to:
linderd @umkc.edu

Read my thoughts on the what it means to be one of law's heroes:

"Searching for
 Law's Heroes"


For more information on great trials, including some trials involving the heroes featured on this page, jump to Famous Trials.

Law's heroes fight against injustice, prejudice, and--yes--evil.  To see my new site examining the persistence of  evil in our legal system today, click: "Searching for Evil" 

See also: Linder, "Journeying Through the Valley of Evil," 71 North Carolina Law Review 1111 (1993).

Judge James Horton, Jr.
The judge who set aside the jury verdict in the "Scottsboro Boys" trial--at the cost of his judicial career

Lewis Tappan
The early abolitionist most responsible for securing freedom for the Africans of the Amistad. 

Charles Hamilton Houston
The man whose relentless fight against Jim Crow, in cases such as Gaines v. Canada, contributed to his early death.

John Michael Doar
The prosecutor in the "Mississippi Burning" trial who fearlessly confronted rioters, segregationist judges, and Klan members in Mississippi in the 60s.

Clarence Darrow
The champion of racial justice who convinced an all-white Detroit jury to acquit Henry Sweet.

Send comments concerning this site to linderd@umkc.edu. Bending Toward Justice is an educational, non-commercial site. 
Exploring Constitutional Conflicts   |  Trivia  | Bill of Rights Golf  | 
  Author's Page  I Beliefs I Heroes (11/01) I Famous Trials Website