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Law School Case Brief

Powell v. State - 224 Ala. 540, 141 So. 201 (1932)


Ala. Code § 3529 confides to the courts of probate, except in the several counties of the state of Alabama in which special courts have been given exclusive jurisdiction over children under 16 years of age, original and exclusive jurisdiction of all proceedings coming within the provisions and terms of chapter 100, dealing with juvenile delinquents; and it confers upon such probate courts original and exclusive jurisdiction to hear, determine, and adjudicate all questions and cases falling or coming within the provisions of the statutes.


Ozie Powell, William Roberson, Andy Wright, Olen Montgomery, and Eugene Williams were jointly indicted, along with three others, by a grand jury of Jackson County, charging them, and each of them, with the offense of rape. The victim of their alleged offense was Victoria Price, a young white woman who lived at or near the city of Huntsville, in Alabama, and who, at the time of the commission of the alleged offense, was riding upon a freight train between Stevenson and Paint Rock, in Jackson County. Defendants' motion for a new trial was overruled and the defendants were convicted of raping a white woman and sentenced to death. The case was appealed.


Were the convictions proper?


Yes, except for the conviction of the minor.


On appeal, the court reversed only one defendant's conviction because at the time of trial that defendant was a juvenile, 16 years of age. The court held that the indictment was sufficient because it used a form prescribe by statute. Defendants' motion for a change of venue was properly overruled. The basis for the motion was that newspapers accounts had persistently tried the cause asserting defendants' guilt in such terms, as to influence the public mind to the extent that National Guard was called to protect their lives. The court held that defendants failed to show that their trial was dominated by a mob or mob spirit, or that the jury was inflamed to the point where they did not receive a fair and impartial trial. The motion for a new trial was properly denied because the principal argument in support of the motion related to the motion for change of venue. Defendants' contention that potential jurors should have been interrogated as to race prejudice was without merit. Moreover, at trial defendants did not object to the personnel of the jury on account of race or color.

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