What are three similarities between the Tom Robinson trial and the Scottsboro trial?  (One similarity should deal with Judge Horton's address to the jury.)

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Three similarities between the trial of the Scottsboro Boys and the trial of Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird are the following:

  1. Mob leaders threatened to break out the nine boys in Scottsboro, Alabama, and take them if the sheriff refused to "let them at these boys." In Harper Lee's novel, the Old Sarum Bunch threatens Atticus at the jailhouse because they want Tom Robinson handed over to them. 
  2. Both the trials in the lower courts are travesties of justice. The claims of rape made in the real trial by Ruby Bates and Victoria Price against the black boys who were on the train with them were false. The women made these charges out of fear of being prosecuted for their sexual activity with the white men who were thrown off the train by the young black men. Likewise, the fictional trial of the innocent Tom Robinson is a travesty because Mayella Ewell brings false testimony against Tom. 
  3. Judge Taylor of Maycomb desires an impartial trial that provides the accused the protection of the court. When, for instance, Link Deas stands in the courtroom and makes a statement about the good character of Tom Robinson, the judge has Mr. Deas removed so that there will be no mistrial. Similarly, Judge Horton of Northern Alabama, in the interest of fairness, went so far as to set aside the verdict against one of the black boys, Haywood Patterson, because he did not believe Patterson had committed any crime. In addition, during the jury selection, one of the members of the selection, Fred Morgan, the postmaster, stood, waved his arms, and complained, "Us jurors in Morgan County are not accustomed to taking the charge from the defendant's attorney and we don't like it."

Judge Horton was surprised by this outburst. He peered over the top of his glasses as he said with sternness in his voice, "There is nothing improper about any of this. Please take your seat again.”

In another instance, during the interrogation of Victoria Price at the trial, she accused Patterson of raping her. Solicitor Bailey pulled from his briefcase a pair of "step-ins" and asked Ms. Price if they were hers. Then, leaping to his feet, defense attorney Leibowitz objected because this was the first time in the two years of this trial that this undergarment had been shown. The Attorney General then tossed them onto the lap of a juror and the courtroom erupted in laughter. Like Judge Taylor, Judge Horton quickly threatened to clear the courtroom in order to maintain order.  

When the courtroom exploded with laughter, Horton struck his gavel for quiet. "The Court has the right to clear the courtroom," the judge sternly announced, "and if necessary to keep order, the Court will not hesitate to do it.”           

The Limestone Democrat of Athens in northern Alabama praised Horton's "unusually equable nature," great legal ability, and fairness. These traits are not unlike those of Judge Taylor of Maycomb in southern Alabama.


Additional Source: 

Haggerty, Andrew. Writers and Their Works: Harper Lee:   To Kill a Mockingbird. Mew York: Marshall Cavendish Corporation, 2010. Print.                               

loganhinson | Student
  • Things similar : -
  • the time periods of both the trials 
  • Reason for trial ( accused of rape ) 
  • Defendants were both blaCk. 
  • - how much the lawyers cared 
  • - location 


mrsrose | Student

The jury was prejudice DUHH!

they went with what the public

thought and not with what the

case was aBOUT

priya6 | Student

The Scottsboro boys have white people defending them as did Tom Robinson in TKAM.

rlendensky | Student

Well for one, the Scottsboro (a group of young African American children) boys, just like Tom Robinson were falsely accused of raping a white woman. Tom Robinson was found guilty in a trial of his peers, just as the Scottsboro boys did. However, Atticus Finch provides the largest of inaccuracies of the Scottsboro case.

The Scottsboro case (they were all sentenced to death) was made so controversial due to the fact that they only met with their lawyers about a half an hour before the trial took place and they actually fell asleep in the court room. Where Atticus Finch was considered a great lawyer for Tom Robinson, the Scottsboro trial lawyers were pathetic public defenders who couldn't even stay awake. The decision in the Scottsboro case was overturned by rule of mistrial, thus establishing the right to an attorney.

Read the study guide:
To Kill a Mockingbird

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