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Moore et al v. Dempsey Appeal: 1923

Studded Straps And Strangling Drugs

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) entered the case. Its appeal to the Arkansas Supreme Court for a new trial cited the riotous atmosphere in which the case was tried and the appointment of counsel at the start of the trial. It also introduced affidavits of the defendants and of the two black witnesses, who now revealed that they had been rounded up by the Committee of Seven and that, along with some of the prisoners, they had been whipped with straps studded with metal, had had "strangling drugs" forced into their nostrils, and had been made to sit in an electric chair—all until they agreed to testify against the defendants.

The appeal was denied. The NAACP then applied to the Arkansas Chancery Court for a writ of habeas corpus on behalf of Frank Moore et al. (one of the defendants by name, and the other 11) against E.H. Dempsey, keeper of the Arkansas State Penitentiary, claiming that the conditions in which the case was tried deprived the defendants of their lives without due process of law.

The chancery court issued the writ and an injunction against the execution of the prisoners, who were scheduled to die two days later. But the Arkansas Supreme Court then held that the chancellor had no jurisdiction. With the executions delayed, however, the NAACP then filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in the District Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Arkansas. It dismissed the writ.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1918 to 1940Moore et al v. Dempsey Appeal: 1923 - Studded Straps And Strangling Drugs, "the Whole Proceeding Is A Mask'