John Randolph Neal was a former law professor and law school dean at the University of Tennessee. After being ousted from the deanship by fundamentalists because of his support of evolution, he started his own law school in Knoxville.
The principal job of the brilliant, but somewhat eccentric Neal at the Scopes trial was to challenge the anti-evolution law's constitutionality. Although designated chief counsel at the trial, his overall role was modest compared to other members of the defense team.
Neal became increasingly eccentric after the trial. One writer called him "a crazy hermit." He ran each election for senator or governor, but received ever smaller numbers of votes.
Neal said of the Scopes trial, "To me personally and to the Civil Liberties Union, the case was neither a religious nor scientific controversy, but a fight for civil liberty."