In To Kill a Mockingbird, what evidence does Atticus use in the courtroom to prove Tom Robinson's innocence?

In To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus uses various pieces of evidence in the courtroom to prove Tom Robinson's innocence. He relies on the testimony of Heck Tate to establish the placement of Mayella's injuries and then builds a case that Bob Ewell inflicted those injuries, not Tom.

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In the courtroom scenes depicting Tom Robinson’s trial, his attorney, Atticus Finch , attempts to prove that Tom could not have performed some of the actions he is alleged to have committed. Robinson is on trial for assaulting and raping Mayella Ewell. Both Mayella and her father, Bob Ewell, testify...

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In the courtroom scenes depicting Tom Robinson’s trial, his attorney, Atticus Finch, attempts to prove that Tom could not have performed some of the actions he is alleged to have committed. Robinson is on trial for assaulting and raping Mayella Ewell. Both Mayella and her father, Bob Ewell, testify that Tom committed these crimes. Bob claims that he was outside their house and, through the window, saw Tom raping, or “ruttin’ on,” Mayella; however, he does not claim that he saw the beating, which supposedly had already occurred. Atticus presents information that establishes that Robinson was not physically capable of carrying out the assault in the manner in which Mayella has described it.

Atticus’s evidence pertains to a disability that Tom sustained in a childhood accident. Tom was left without full use of his left arm. Everyone in the courtroom can see that it is considerably shorter than his right arm. The other part of the evidence is that Bob is shown to be left-handed. Atticus shows that Mayella’s injuries were consistent with being caused by a left-handed person. Therefore, Tom could not have beaten her. Atticus succeeds in showing that both she and her father have been lying. However, Atticus does not actually prove that Tom is innocent of the rape charge.

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Atticus's evidence begins with the testimony of Heck Tate, who is the sheriff of Maycomb. Heck was called to the Ewell residence on the night of the alleged attack, and he provides evidence about the nature of Mayella Ewell's injuries. Mr. Tate recalls that Mayella was "bunged up" on the right side of her face and that she had finger marks all the way around her neck.

During Bob Ewell's testimony, Atticus asks him to sign his name. When Bob does so, it is clear that he is left-handed. This is significant because the placement of Mayella's bruises indicates that the person who hit her is left-handed.

When Mayella takes the stand, Atticus tries to treat her gently. However, Mayella is completely unaccustomed to being treated with respect and believes that Atticus is insulting her. At the end of her testimony, Atticus asks her to point out the man who attacked her. Mayella points to Tom, who then stands in the courtroom. Tom's left hand is "fully twelve inches shorter than his right and [hangs] dead at his side. It end[s] in a small shriveled hand." It is nearly impossible that Tom could have inflicted the injuries on Mayella's face, and there is no way he could have left finger marks all the way around her throat.

Based on Bob Ewell's surly and combative personality, as is evident from his testimony, it becomes clear that Mayella's injuries were not inflicted by Tom, who testifies that he stopped by to help her because there wasn't anyone else who would do so. Instead, it seems that when Bob Ewell found his daughter had been entertaining a Black man, he beat her and then blamed it on Tom.

Despite compelling evidence to attest to his innocence, Tom is convicted of the charges against him.

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The answer to this question can be found in Chapter 18, which is when Atticus cross examines Mayella Ewell. Part of what he does is to prove that Tom Robinson could not have hit her on the right side of her face, as his left hand had been mangled beyond repair by a cotton gin when he was a boy. This piece of evidence is crucial, as it supports earlier comments that Mayella made that her father had beaten and assaulted her. Of course, when confronted with the truth, Mayella does everything she can to deny it and resist it, which loses her sympathy with the reader. Although she undoubtedly enjoys a pitiful existence, she seizes the opportunity to victimise somebody else just as she is victimised, and causes far more harm to others than she herself receives. However, note the following quote that comes from the final chapter of this book, which could be taken as one quote that presents the general theme of the text:

"When they finally saw him, why he hadn’t done any of those things... Atticus, he was real nice..." His hands were under my chin, pulling up the cover, tucking it around me. "Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them." He turned out the light and went into Jem’s room. He would be there all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning.

Even though they are talking about Boo Radley, the novel as a whole argues that humans need to "see" each other truly, beyond superficial prejudices and stereotypes, to understand that they can be "real nice." What Atticus does in the court room is to force the jury to "see" Tom Robinson as he really is, and as a man who is innocent. He does this by proving he could not have assaulted Mayella.

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During Atticus's brilliant defense of Tom Robinson, he presents several important details of the incident, elaborates on Bob and Mayella's motivations to fabricate their testimonies, and makes Mayella contradict her statements, which proves his client's innocence. Atticus initially focuses on the location of Mayella's injuries as Sheriff Tate testifies that the majority of the bruises were located on the right side of her face. After Bob Ewell confirms Tate's testimony, Atticus illustrates that Bob Ewell is left-handed, which suggests that his punches would have landed on the right side of Mayella's face. Atticus then cleverly shows the jury that Tom Robinson is handicapped and his left arm is virtually useless, which means he could not have inflicted those injuries. Atticus implies that Bob was his daughter's perpetrator.

Atticus proceeds to mention that there was no medical evidence to suggest that Mayella was raped, and his hard line of questioning influences her to contradict her story on the witness stand. After emphasizing Mayella's lies, commenting on the lack of medical evidence, and reminding the jury of Tom's handicap in relation to the location of Mayella's injuries, Atticus then comments on her motivation to lie. In his closing remarks, Atticus mentions that Mayella had broken a time-honored code by tempting a black man and was motivated to cover up the incident in order to avoid public shame as well as her father's wrath.

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Atticus first gets Heck Tate's testimony from the investigation he did on the night in question. Tate reports that Mayella Ewell was "all bunged up" on the left side of her face. Atticus asks whose left, and Tate says his left, meaning it was on the right side of Mayella's face. Next, Bob Ewell, Mayella's father, takes the stand. Atticus asks him if he agrees with Tate's description of Mayella's condition, and he agrees. Then he asks if he can read and write; when Ewell says yes, he has him write his name in the full view of the court, thus demonstrating that Ewell is left-handed. When Mayella identifies Tom Robinson as her attacker and Atticus has him stand, the court sees that his left arm is shriveled, a full twelve inches shorter than his right. Reverend Sykes explains to Jem that he'd gotten the arm caught in a cotton gin when he was a boy and had been disabled since. 

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