The Tort and Insurance Practice Section of the ABA, at its upcoming meeting in May, will include a segment on the following bit of American legal history:
"In 1906, a young black man from Chattanooga, Tennessee, was falsely accused of raping a white woman. He was railroaded by the courts, abandoned by his own lawyers, and wrongly convicted and sentenced to death. A pair of courageous African-American lawyers stepped forward to handle his appeal, filing the first ever federal habeas petition in a state criminal case. To everyone's surprise, they convinced the U.S. Supreme Court to issue its first ever stay of an execution in a state criminal case. But days before the justices were scheduled to hear oral arguments, a lynch mob, led by the sheriff and his deputies, snatched the defendant from his jail cell and hung him on the county bridge. What followed was a historic case in which the Supreme Court justices ordered the arrest of the sheriff, his deputies and members of the lynch mob on charges of contempt of the Supreme Court of the United States -- the only such case of its type in U.S. history. This case, 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. It serves as an example of how lawyers should use the law and the courts for the protection of individual rights - even when the court itself is part of the problem. It goes to the heart of the need to protect of the rule of law."
The other reason? The meeting is in Miami.