In this profound and fascinating book, the authors revisit an overlooked Supreme Court decision that changed forever how justice is carried out in the United States. In 1906, Ed Johnson was the innocent black man found guilty of the brutal rape of Nevada Taylor, a white woman, and sentenced to die in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Two black lawyers, not even part of the original defense, appealed to the Supreme Court for a stay of execution, and the stay, incredibly, was granted. Frenzied with rage at the decision, locals responded by lynching Johnson, and what ensued was a breathtaking whirlwind of groundbreaking legal action whose import, Thurgood Marshall would claim, “has never been fully explained.” Provocative, thorough, and gripping, Contempt of Court is a long-overdue look at events that clearly depict the peculiar and tenuous relationship between justice and the law.
“Contempt of Court should join the handful of books such as Anthony Lewis’ Gideon’s Trumpet as required reading for anyone who wants to understand how the Constitution protects individual citizens.”–Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
American Bar Association Silver Gavel AwardWINNER 2000