The Powell v. Alabama Case’s Ruling with Reasoning

Subject: Law
Pages: 1
Words: 270
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In 1931, nine young African-American men (collectively known as the Scottsboro Boys) were accused of raping Ruby Bates and Victoria Price, two white women in a freight car of a train passing through the state of Alabama. It appeared that the Scottsboro boys were traveling in the freight train with 7 White males and 2 White females. When a fight broke out between the males, all but one White male was thrown out of the train. The women accused the Black men of rape, but one woman later retracted her claim. All of the defendants, except one, were sentenced to death in a series of one-day trials. The defendants were only given access to their lawyers immediately prior to the trial, leaving little or no time to plan the defense.

The ruling was appealed on the grounds that the group was not provided, adequate legal counsel. The Alabama Supreme Court ruled 6-1 that the trial was fair. However, after appealing to the Supreme Court, the majority opinion was reversed. Their decision was based on the premise that due process had been violated. The ruling was based on three main arguments: “1) They were not given a fair, impartial and deliberate trial; (2) They were denied the right of counsel, with the accustomed incidents of consultation and opportunity for trial; and (3) They were tried before juries from which qualified members of their own race were systematically excluded.” This case gave light to all other decisions in courts to have a rule that an individual must be represented fully, regardless of wealth or intelligence.