In chapter 25, Scout reads Mr. Underwood's editorial concerning Tom Robinson's unfortunate death, which he equates to the senseless slaughter of songbirds. As Scout thinks about Mr. Underwood's article, she contemplates the fact that Tom was given due process of law, tried in an open court, and convicted by twelve good men. Scout then comprehends Mr. Underwood's metaphor and says,
Atticus had used every tool available to free men to save Tom Robinson, but in the secret courts of men’s hearts Atticus had no case. Tom was a dead man the minute Mayella Ewell opened her mouth and screamed. (245)
The "secret courts of men's hearts" hide racial prejudice and hate towards African Americans. In regards to the twelve white men who wrongly convicted Tom Robinson of assaulting and raping Mayella, they harbored racism, hate, and fear inside their hearts. The prejudiced jurors subscribe to what Atticus referred to as the "evil assumption," which is the belief that all Negroes are immoral beings. Despite the lack of evidence and the Ewells' conflicting testimonies, the jurors chose to convict Tom Robinson because they held racist opinions of him and feared the backlash from Maycomb's community. Overall, in the secret court of each man's heart lies his true feelings and beliefs.