The prejudice seen in the fictional novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee corresponds with the real narrow-mindedness during this time period. A fair trial would be unlikely during this time period between a white and a black man. Tom Robinson was presumed guilty because of his race.
Prejudice is “an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge” (Merriam); according to Lystra Moore Richardson of Yale University: “prejudice… was part of the very fiber of Southern life [during the Great Depression].” With these two pieces of information, it is derived that people formed judgments and opinions of a person without just grounds; most commonly, they based them on race. It is because of prejudice that a black man could not receive a fair trial in the South during the Great Depression. Many judges and most juries exhibited prejudice in the courtroom.
The Scottsboro Trials held in Jackson County, Alabama were an excellent example of prejudice. During the Scottsboro trials, the prejudice of a judge is shown when Judge Hawkins “pronounce[d] the death sentence on [all] eight who had been tried” (First). He continued to show prejudice by setting the execution date for “the earliest date he was permitted to name under the law” (First). Because this was a display of prejudice, it can be assumed that in the event that the convicts were white, the penalty may have been lessened and possibly delayed longer than the minimum time allowed.
The jury also showed signs of prejudice in the Scottsboro case. All twelve of the jurymen concluded a guilty verdict for the first trial – despite even medical evidence: “it was [J...
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...at winning this trial due to the prejudice of the jury. The jury was all white and in a southern location during the Great Depression. Prejudice was part of their way of life. He was found guilty as charged based on circumstantial evidence.
First Scottsboro Trials, The. Hollace Ransdell. 1931. University of Missouri-Kansas City.
10 March 2002. <http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/FTrials/scottsboro/SB_HRrep.html>
Merriam-Webster OnLine. 10 March 2002. <http://www.m-w.com>
South in Literature, the. Lystra Moore Richardson. 2001. Yale Law School. 10 March
Trials of “The Scottsboro Boys”, The. Douglas O. Linder. 1999. University of Missouri-
Kansas City. 10 March 2002.
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