US Justices Won't Take Case Over 1946 Georgia Lynching RecordsBreaking News
tags: racism, Jim Crow, Supreme Court, Georgia, lynching, SCOTUS
The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday it would not hear a case stemming from a historian’s efforts to learn about the 1946 lynching of four Black people in Georgia.
In March, the Atlanta-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled by an 8-4 vote that a lower court judge was wrong to release records from the grand jury that investigated the killing of the two Black couples at the Moore’s Ford Bridge in Walton County. Their deaths 74 years ago, for which no one was held accountable, are considered one of the precursors to the civil rights movement.
The Eleventh Circuit majority upended a 1984 precedent, known as Hastings, 735 F.2d 1261, which allowed the release of grand jury records in an “exceptional situation.” Under similar reasoning, courts have released grand jury transcripts in historically significant cases, including those involving Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, President Richard Nixon and union leader Jimmy Hoffa. In 2017, Judge Marc Treadwell of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia said the Moore’s Ford Bridge lynching qualified as an exception, too.
In 2019, a three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit voted 2-1 to uphold Treadwell’s ruling. But the en banc ruling from March voided that decision.
Lawyers for the wife of the historian, who has since died, and another historian who renewed the requests for the records were Joseph J. Bell and Paul W. Armstrong of Bell & Shivas of Rockaway, New Jersey.
Bell emailed on Monday afternoon that he was “deeply saddened that the Court missed a historic opportunity to correct a horrible injustice.”
The historians could rely on a new law, the Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Act of 2018, which allows a review board to authorize the release of records from cases such as the Moore’s Ford Bridge lynching.
Bell said he plans to apply to the cold case commission to see the records or ask for a rules change with the federal courts committee that govern criminal procedure. “When a door closes somehow a window will open,” he said.
comments powered by Disqus
- He Escaped Death as a Kamikaze Pilot. 70 Years Later, He Told His Story.
- The Trump Administration Just Made the Citizenship Test Harder. How Would You Do?
- Trump Hints at Another Act in Four Years, Just Like Grover Cleveland
- Laws and Customs Guide Presidential Transitions — But Some Go off the Rails Anyway
- Democrats Introduce Legislation to Strike Slavery Exception in 13th Amendment
- Washington History Seminar: Mira Siegelberg on "Statelessness: A Modern History" (Monday, Dec. 7)
- Beloved University of Kentucky History Professor Dies from COVID-19 Months into Retirement
- David Hackett, Historian and Holocaust Expert, Dies at 80
- American History Scholar Richard Polenberg Dies at 83
- What Does African American Studies Need to Thrive?