CONTEMPT OF COURT: THE STORY OF ED JOHNSON
Mark Curriden will discuss the historical events that led him to co-author the book “Contempt of Court: The Turn-of-the-Century Lynching That Launched a Hundred Years of Federalism.” The presentation based upon the 1906 trial of Ed Johnson, a young black man from Chattanooga, Tenn., exemplifies why lawyers as advocates for the poor and downtrodden are best positioned to take the steps necessary to uphold the rule of law. Ed Johnson was falsely accused of rape, railroaded through the criminal justice system, found guilty and sentenced to death – all in three weeks. Two African-American lawyers stepped forward to represent Johnson on appeal and also filed one of the first federal habeas petitions ever attempted in a state criminal case. The lawyers convinced the Supreme Court of the United States to stay Johnson’s execution. But before they could have him released, a lynch mob, aided by the sheriff and his deputies, lynched Johnson. The Supreme Court ordered the arrest of the sheriff and leaders of the mob, charging them with contempt of the Supreme Court. It is the only time in U.S. history that the Supreme Court conducted a criminal trial.
This case and story from a century ago exemplifies why lawyers as advocates for the poor and downtrodden are best positioned to take the steps necessary to uphold the rule of law. Through the eyes and actions of the lawyers in this case, attorneys are able to see what it is like to represent a client who is the curse of society. And it also shows how lawyers should use the law and the courts for the protection of individual rights even when the courts itself are part of the problem. This case is a gut-check for lawyers about why they entered the legal profession.
Mark Curriden, lawyer, journalist, and co-author of Contempt of Court, a book examining and 1906 trial of Ed Johnson, a young black man from Chattanooga, Tennessee. His talk will show how lawyers, as advocates for the poor and downtrodden are best positioned to take the steps necessary to uphold the rule of law. Events after Johnson's conviction resulting in his lynching led the US Supreme Court, for the only time in its history, to conduct a criminal trial.
PANELISTS TO INCLUDE (additional panelists expected):
Sam D. Elliott, member of the Chattanooga law firm Gearhiser, Peters, Elliott & Cannon, PLLC
Elliott has received numerous awards based on his skills and professionalism as a trial lawyer, but is also a noted historian and author. He received his J.D. degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law.
Judge W. Neil Thomas III, circuit judge serving the Eleventh Judicial District in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Judge Thomas received his B.A. degree from the University of North Carolina and his J.D. degree from the University of Michigan.
Tuesday, September 12, 2017
The Walden Club
1:30 p.m. Registration
2:00 p.m. til 4:00 p.m. CLE Seminar
2.0 hours DUAL CLE credit
CBA Members: $65.00 (NO Book); $75.00 (WITH Book)
Non Members: $80.00 (NO Book); $90.00 (WITH Book)