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Lecture 6

Lecture 6 - Lynching and the Courts.docx

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York University
HIST 3850
Patrick J Connor

HIST3850 Patrick Connor October 19, 2012 Lecture #6: Lynching and the Courts Lynching: to put to death, especially by hanging, by mob action and without legal authority. Factors in Decline of Violence • Economics: mass migration of African Americans out of South America • Social conditions must improve if South hopes to retain this valuable labour • Also better law enforcement; the reforming activities of white and African- American social organizations; increasing influence of the federal government History • 1917 – Revolution in Russia • Immigrants cut off in 1920s • 1930s – Great Depression • Wasn’t until 1950s that US began to accept them • Different groups arrived in North America o Jewish from Western Europe mainly  People threw them out  Also economics pushed them to come for jobs • Late 19 century – period of growing nationalism o Jews, Russians had to deal with laws restricting their freedoms o 80s-90s – western Europe very violent so they wanted to leave • Chain Migration: go where your people are o A lot of Toronto Italians from same place • 16 million Jews in the US o 425 arrived every 5 years (1908-1913) o Most in New York City, Lower East Side o Often seen as labour agitators, socialists o In South, Jews stood out more  Leo Frank Frank v. Magnum, 1914 • Murder of Mary Phagan, National Pencil Factory on April 27, 1913 • Jim Conley said that Leo Frank used office for rendezvous with women • Note found beside Mary’s body • Police arrested Leo Frank • Born in Parix, Texas in 1884 • Parents moved to NYC when infant, raised there • Cornel graduate of engineering • Went to work for uncle, owner of penal • 1907 – appointed supernatural • 1911 – got married • On night of murder, gave Mary a paycheck • Supposedly, last time seen alive • Testimony of Jim Connelly – African American – daytime watchman o Claimed Frank regularly seduced young woman o Acted as lookout during sex o Someone assisted him with body after murder Trial • Defense introduces 200 witnesses • Frank fairly wealthy, got lawyer (upper-middle class) • Anti-Semitism – prosecution focused • Conley – 16 hours of cross-examination • Reliance of anti-Semitism, people saying he’s a Jew • Jury deliberates for 4 hours • Frank and lawyers not present when verdict delivered – question of safety • We know today Conley was lying • Public opinion had determined guilt before trial because of religion • Judge wasn’t sure about guilt and said so but wasn’t sure about public reaction so granted o Judge denied another trial o Frank’s law really wanted a new trial Request for a New Trial • 103 motions • Lawyers believe that only option is for a new trial; must be able to overturn the facts of the case • Cannot do that within existing legal structure since facts cannot be overturned in appeals Georgia Supreme Court • Appealed to Georgia S.C. arguing that jurors were prejudiced/ 3-2 against Frank • Court states that judge’s actions were appropriate and reject defense argument on three important points about the jury Request for New Trial Based on New Evidence • Frank’s legal time found new evidence suggesting Jim Conley was murder but this was denied • This is a result of investigation of detectives hired for Frank • Lawyers made another application • Frank had not given up right to be present, also denied even though this was against the law • Unsuccessful appeal to State S.C. (they have final say) – denied also New Motion for Verdict to be Set Aside • New motion states that when the verdict was read, the defendant was not present and that this was a violation of the 14 amendment o No person should be denied right to life or liberty or property under process of due law o District federal Court refused o Went to the US Supreme Court and based appeal on reading of the 14 amendment • Judge told lawyers: ‘counsel might be in danger should they be present at the reception of the verdict.’ • Counsel agreed and they and Frank were absent • State refused to argue the point and enters a demurrer (even if the facts were true, this would be insufficient to set aside the verdict) • Appealed to Georgia S.C. and appeal denied • On a writ of Habeas Corpus • Held in violation of the 14 amendment Defense/Argument • Defendant not present at reading of verdict: so as to bring about ‘loss of jurisdiction and the nullification of the verdict’ • Violation was due to the action of the Court • Dominated by mob proceedings; to which the presiding judge succumbed’ • This brought about the dissolution of the court • Has right to appeal to federal courts once has exhausted all other appeals at a state level • Caused disillusion of the Court • Used federal court as last resort, he was following rules and exhausted all appeals • Arguing against these positions were governors of Georgia • Defendant asking about decision to overturn withoutthubmitting to court • Asking them to rule narrowly on issues about 14 amendment • Lawyers of Georgia uncomfortable, disagreed that Frank had been deprived of due process th • Argued that 14 amendment means id laws operate on all alike… • Wrong to set aside verdict that is well supported by evidence because judge made mistake o Denied Frank but overturned his death sentence Government Argument • Prosecution: asking decision to be overturned without submitting to Court parts of trial record • Georgia S.C. has set aside verdicts in cases where hostile demonstrations have impeded deliverance of justice • State law determines what is ‘due process of law’ • 14 amendment means laws operate on all alike and do not subject individual to arbitrary action of government • Verdict should not be set aside on trifling error of judge • Claims of rex judicata, that these issues have already been raised by a court of competent jurisdiction and should not be raised again o The USSC had no jurisdiction in this case The Decision of the USSC • Known as Frank v. Magnum (Magnum is the jailor) • Writ of habeas corpus can only be used if the defendant is held in violation of the Constitution • What does due process mean? o That the law is not repugnant to the Constitution and is conducted according to the laws of the state • Frank had been tried in Georgia, Georgia followed rules • Declared that S.C. must look at entire trial, not just a part of it • No mob domination! • Even if original trial had succumbed to a mob dominatio
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