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Scottsboro Boys - Samuel Leibowitz

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Samuel Leibowitz (1893–1978) was a noted New York attorney who represented the Scottsboro Boys after their initial 1931 trial. Leibowitz represented seventy-eight persons charged with first-degree murder in his fifteen-year career as a criminal defense attorney. His record showed seventy-seven acquittals, one hung jury, and no convictions. In the courtroom, Leibowitz had a compelling personality to accompany his detailed preparation and knowledge of the law.

Leibowitz read the court records of the first Scottsboro trial after receiving a call from the International Labor Defense (ILD). The ILD asked him to defend the Scottsboro Boys in their second trial. It was the medical testimony of Dr. R. R. Bridges saying that the alleged victims in the case had not been beaten or raped that convinced him of the boys' innocence, and he accepted the ILD's offer.

Many questioned Leibowitz's decision to take such a difficult case. He was a mainstream Democrat who had not been associated with racial causes. In this case, however, Leibowitz was serious in his quest for justice. He worked for several years without pay or reimbursement from his clients. His efforts won him the respect and gratitude of the Scottsboro Boys as well as several in the black community.

Leibowitz soon became the target of death threats in Alabama. He was assigned five uniformed members of the National Guard to protect him. Because of the nature Attorney Sam Leibowitz meeting with his clients, the Scottsboro boys. (© Bettmann/Corbis)
of the case, the governor made 150 more guardsmen available to defend against a possible lynch mob. Following several convictions in the marathon Scottsboro case, Leibowitz and the ILD ended up battling for control of the case. The animosity grew when two ILD attorneys were charged with attempting to bribe Victoria Price, who hinted that money could help change her story.

Leibowitz eventually took the Scottsboro Case to the U.S. Supreme Court and won the decision in Norris v. Alabama. The Supreme Court reversed the convictions of the lower courts when it was shown that blacks were illegally excluded from Alabama juries.

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over 7 years ago

How can I obtan a photograph of Mr. Leibowitz? I am an artist and would like to do a sketch of him. Please tell me how to purchase one. Thank you, Pamela Farmer

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over 1 year ago

Scottsboro Boys - Samuel Leibowitz
~~Does this still work?