The Trial of the Scottsboro Boys is widely held to be one of the worst cases of court room injustice in the history of the United States. It occurred in the southern state of Alabama during the height of Jim Crow and the Great Depression of the early thirties. In that case, nine black boys, the youngest being twelve, were rounded up by a gun toting posse after an altercation on a freight train in which they forced several whites off. One of the white women on the train, was a prostitute and was concerned about possible criminal charges she would face for traveling across state lines to provide service, so she convinced another white woman to divert attention from themselves by accusing the black boys of gang raping them. Of the nine boys rounded up on the freight train that night, they were confined in prisons and jails that were essentially hell holes, for many years, during numerous trials and re-trials. Outcome of almost all of the trials, despite evidence pointing to the innocence of the boys, was a conviction and death sentence. The last Scottsboro boy to be released, was released fifteen years later. It was a miracle that the boys even survived their incarceration, as the National Guard was called in to prevent their lynching by a mob shortly after they were first arrested and charged.
Now some individuals, such as Bill Anderson, want to compare the three Duke Lacrosse defendants to the Scottsboro boys and suggest a close kindred bond between the two. The purpose of trying to link the two is to try and convince people that the alleged injustice suffered by the Duke boys was of the same magnitude as that of the Scottsboro boys. Such an analogy is nonexistent, and to attempt to force such a relationship in the minds of people is blasphemous. There is definitely no comparison, other than both groups were charged with sexual assault. That is where the similarities end. Differences are as follows:
1) the Scottsboro boys were hitching a ride on a freight train in search of work when an altercation broke out with white riders on the freight. In the Duke Lacrosse case, the defendants were at a raucous party (ala “Animal House”) where their was under-aged drinking, drugs, and strippers. These parties were notoriously rowdy, and the Lacrosse coach had even been warned by the Duke administration to curb them, something he was unable to accomplish.
2) the Scottsboro boys were nearly lynched after charges were brought, and they faced the death penalty. Duke Lacrosse defendants’ safety was never an issue and they surely were not submitted to the stress of facing capital punishment.
3) the Scottsboro boys’ initial two defense attorneys were no dream team. One was so drunk that he couldn’t walk a straight line, and the other was in his 70’s and hadn’t been in the courtroom for decades. They didn’t call outside witnesses, didn’t effectively cross examine those on the stand, and made no closing statement. The Duke Lacrosse defendants families retained several prestigious law firms to represent their sons (which they claim charged them millions of dollars).
4) the Scottsboro boys were confined in small, squalid rat-infested cells, under the most deplorable conditions imaginable for many years. They were subjected to physical and psychological horrors routinely while incarcerated. None of the three Duke Lacrosse defendants spent any time in jail… the only one serving time as a result of the Duke Lacrosse case was prosecutor Mike Nifong.
5) although wrongfully charged and incarcerated, none of the Scottsboro boys receive compensation. The Duke Lacrosse defendants received seven million dollars ($7,000,000) each in an out of court settlement with Duke University, and they are avariciously suing the city of Durham for ten million dollars ($10,000,000) each.
6) the Scottsboro boys were not proclaimed innocent, however, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper took it upon himself to rule that the three Duke Lacrosse defendants were “innocent!”
7) many years after their ordeal, one of the Scottsboro boys wrote about the terrible experience. In the Duke Lacrosse case, a myriad of books, all favorable to the Duke Lacrosse defendants, have hit the market, and television and news programs, such as “60 Minutes” have produced stories about the case. At least one movie about the Duke Lacrosse case is already in the works.
8) the events that transpired with the Scottsboro boys are accepted and undisputed. However, what happened at the Duke lacrosse house party will never be known with certainty because Attorney General Roy Cooper saw to it that the case was shut down. No ensuing trial was held which would be able to bring clarity to what happened at the house on Buchanan Street in Durham on a night in March 2006. We will never know about the conversations the father of defendant Reid Seligmann had with the taxi cab driver and its effect on his changing testimony.
The aforementioned are just a few of the reasons that the Duke Lacrosse case doesn’t even come close to the standard of injustice set by the Scottsboro boys case. To suggest or insist that the two are comparable is a ploy used to steer the minds of those individuals who are not used to exercising theirs to think for themselves. The misguided followers and supporters of the Duke Lacrosse defendants have allowed the families of the defendants, the NC Attorney General’s Office, and the media (locally and nationally) to persecute Mr. Nifong, a dedicated prosecutor with 27 years of service to the state of North Carolina, who followed the principle of “equal justice for all” in prosecuting the Duke Lacrosse case. By doing so, these North Carolinians supporting the Duke Lacrosse defendants are enabling the carpetbagger families of the Duke Lacrosse defendants to further rape the state (the city of Durham alone has spent well over a million dollars in defending itself against the frivolous lawsuits of these families of wealth, status, privilege, greed, and vindictiveness).
A final analysis: The rape of the state of North Carolina by the carpetbagger families of the Duke Lacrosse defendants more closely approaches the magnitude of injustice associated with the Scottsboro boys than the pitiful alleged "injustice" suffered by the Duke Lacrosse defendants, which doesn’t even merit a blip on the scale of injustice.