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Letter to the Editor: Rule of law

To the editor:

The rule of law made by Congress, fairly adjudicated by the courts, and implemented by the executive is our right.

Nevada Taylor of Chattanooga, Tenn., was walking home from her job on a dark night in late December 1906. Someone attacked her from behind.

He strangled and raped her. She could only identify her assailant as a medium height man with very strong and rippled muscles. He wore dark clothing including a hood. She could not identify the attacker’s race.

Joseph Shipp, a Confederate captain by the Civil War’s end, was the county sheriff. His reputation was acting as judge and jury.

He dispensed justice with a sound physical beating, especially with the black population.

Within several days, Shipp had his accused assailant. Ed Johnson was a tall thin black man, but not at all as Ms. Taylor described. With no legal representation and a sham trial, Johnson had a death sentence with scheduled execution in March.

Noah Parden, a bold black attorney, appealed the case to the Supreme Court Justice Harlan halted the execution and ordered Sheriff Shipp to protect Johnson. With aid and abetting from Sheriff Shipp, an angrymob hung Johnson from a bridge.

Justice Harlan was especially angry a tin-horn county sheriff would flout the authority of the Supreme Court and the rule of law.

Harlan charged Shipp with contempt. The full Supreme Court convicted Shipp and several deputies of contempt. The punishment was 90 days in the Washington Federal Prison.

I recommend “Contempt of Court” by Curriden and Phillips to expand your understanding of justice of the old South.

By the way, the South has no monuments for the 3,141 lynched blacks, nor any for Emmett Till, Willis McCall, Samuel Sheppard, or … .

Joseph Arpaio is the present-day Joseph Shipp! Arpaio has his own idea of justice, the rule of law, and defiance of the court.

He flauted a federal court order. The court justly convicted him of contempt.

The constitutional framers designed the presidential pardon to rectify a system gone awry. Lincoln appropriately pardoned 265 Sioux who had death sentences after a 15-minute trial.

The Central Park Five, innocent juveniles imprisoned because of Trump whipping up a public frenzy with full page ads in three New York newspapers advocating capital punishment for them, deserved pardons.

Arpaio’s pardon is a degradation of justice and the rule of law. Walden’s silence is complicit with that degradation. We deserve better!

Terry B. Armentrout

The Dalles

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