Contempt of Court: The Turn-of-the-century Lynching that Launched 100 Years of Federalism

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Anchor Books, 1999 - History - 394 pages
2 Reviews
In this profound & fascinating book, the authors revisit an overlooked Supreme Court decision that changed forever how justice is carried out in the United States. In 1906, Ed Johnson was the innocent black man found guilty of the brutal rape of Nevada Taylor, a white woman, & sentenced to die in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Two black lawyers, not even part of the original defense, appealed to the Supreme Court for a stay of execution, & the stay, incredibly, was granted. Frenzied with rage at the decision, locals responded by lynching Johnson, & what ensued was a breathtaking whirlwind of groundbreaking legal action whose import, Thurgood Marshall would claim, "has never been fully explained." Provocative, thorough, & gripping, Contempt of Court is a long-overdue look at events that clearly depict the peculiar & tenuous relationship between justice & the law. "Curriden & Phillips have woven detail with a tragic story line to create an important book that is also a compelling read." --Chattanooga Free Press. "Brings into focus [a] grim, critical moment in American history." --The New York Times Book Review.

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User Review  - DavidO1103 - LibraryThing

Excellent, gripping true story of a black man unjustly accused and sentenced for raping a young white woman in Chatanooga, of the appeal of his death sentence to the Supreme Court; of Justice Harlan's ... Read full review

CONTEMPT OF COURT: The Turn-of-the-Century Lynching That Launched 100 Years of Federalism

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Welcome to an overlooked chapter in American history. Combining the details of a compelling story and the significance of precedent-setting Supreme Court decisions provides the ingredients for a ... Read full review


Scene of the Crime
Someone Must Pay
Pretense of Law and Order

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About the author (1999)

Mark Curriden holds a B.A. in history from Tennessee Temple University and a J.D. from the Woodrow Wilson Law School in Atlanta. He's a senior writer at ABA Journal and at the Texas Lawbook. He's written for the Dallas Morning News as well as the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and was the Writer in Residence at the SMU Dedman School of Law.

Leroy Phillips Jr. was born in Cattanooga in 1935 and graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 1960. He practiced law for 44 years before retiring in 2005. His book, Contempt of Court, co-authored with Mark Curriden, won the American Bar Associations Silver Gavel Award for excellence in media and the arts in 2000. He died in 2011.

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