Rebecca Kavanagh+ Your Authors @DrRJKavanagh Criminal Defense & Civil Rights Attorney, Writer, Legal & Media Analyst. @theappeal @nyulaw @sydneylawschool @sydney_uni. Sydney ✈️ NYC. she/her. Views my own. Oct. 18, 2019 2 min read + Your Authors

In 1946 Monroe Georgia, a mob of 30 White men lynched 4 young African American men and women. Despite a grand jury hearing evidence from more than 100 witnesses, no one was ever indicted. Now, a court may rule that those grand jury transcripts be unsealed. 

A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals had already ruled that the grand jury testimony be unsealed, but the full court vacated that opinion, ordering that the case be heard as a full court. 

Why? A reason was not given, but it is worth noting that the dissenting opinion in the Court of Appeals was based on "reputational harm" that may be done to living relatives of the perpetrators and witnesses to the lynching.

The four people lynched in what is now known as the Moore's Head Lynching were George W. and Mae Murray Dorsey; and Roger and Dorothy Malcom; two married couples.

George W. Dorsey was a veteran of WW2. His wife Mae was 7 months pregnant.

All four were employed as sharecroppers by a White man. L. Roy Harrison, reputed to be a member of the KKK.

The lynchings happened after Roger Malcom was jailed for stabbing a White man, Barnett Hester, who he believed had raped his wife.

Harrison took the Dorseys & Dorothy Malcom to bail out Roger Malcom.

He claims they were set upon by a White mob as they drove home along Moore's Ford Road (he was almost certainly a participant).

The Dorseys & Malcoms were then shot & killed on the bank of the Apalachee River.

In 2006, as part of an initiative to re-investigate cold cases from the civil rights era, the FBI reopened the Moore's Ford lynching case and interviewed a number of suspects, but no one was prosecuted and the case was closed again in 2015. 

The unsealing of the grand jury testimony from 73 years ago will almost certainly not lead to any prosecutions. Which just makes you realize how backwards it is for the court's focus to be the "reputational harm" of relatives of KKK members and perpetrators of the lynching.

But that doesn't mean it's not vitally important to unseal the transcripts - not just because the case is historically significant. It's because it's the last semblance of a measure of justice for George and Mae Dorsey and Dorothy and Roger Malcom. We owe them that.

Finally, @TB_Times, this story is horrific enough without using the photograph you have to accompany it.

These are George and Mae Dorsey and Dorothy and Roger Malcom.

You can follow @DrRJKavanagh.


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