Preface — Effective Assistance of Counsel for the Indigent Criminal Defendant: Has the Promise Been Fulfilled

Introduction

In 1931, nine black youths were accused of raping two white women on a train bound for Scottsboro, Alabama. At the time, rape was a capital crime inAlabama. In that state, as in the rest of the Deep South, black men charged with raping white women were sure to evoke a vicious response from the dominant, racist, white society. The so-called “Scottsboro Boys” were no exception.

In this highly charged atmosphere, the Scottsboro defendants, some of whom were in their early teens, were brought to trial before an all-white jury.Because Alabama did not provide legal assistance to indigent criminal defend-ants, they were also unrepresented by legal counsel. After separate one-day trials, all of the defendants were found guilty and sentenced to death.

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