I didn’t provide my answer to the ethics quiz about the propriety of charging and trying the woman whose accusation against 14-year-old Emmett Till resulted in his infamous lynching in 1955. Jim Hodgson’s Comment of the Day nicely explains what it would be, though.
I also heard an interesting angle from my lawyer sister that is probably worth a full post. What Carolyn Bryant Donham said in 1955 would be literally nothing today. It was only in the warped Jim Crow culture of 1950s Mississippi that a woman false claiming a black teen touched and flirted with her could lead to violence, or could be considered provocation for a violent crime. How do you justify prosecuting someone 67 years later for an act that would no longer be considered a crime?
Here is Jim’s post, in response to “Ethics Quiz: Grandstanding Or Justice?”…
My answer to the ethics quiz is that no, she should not be prosecuted. It just isn’t feasible to achieve any fair degree of justice at this point.
As a retired deputy sheriff, the first thing that struck me as odd in the news reports that I read concerning this “discovery” was the clear implication that the “lost” warrant itself was somehow a bar to her being arrested and prosecuted at some time during the past 67 years. It may be news to many people, but paper warrants get lost (or at least temporarily “misplaced”) with some regularity. In my state, any officer of the court with knowledge of the original warrant could have asked for the warrant to be re-issued by the same court that issued the original. In my state this is referred to as issuing an “alias warrant” or an “alias writ.” Continue reading