Walter White and the Sweet case
Walter White arrived in Detroit five days after Ossian Sweet, his brother, and several others had been arrested for murder while defending the house against a white mob when the police wouldn't. White did not have confidence in the skills of the black lawyers who had been hired for the Sweet case and felt that white lawyers would be more successful in making white judges or jurors sympathetic to Sweet. After gaining Sweet's consent to take over the case, the NAACP hired Clarence Darrow, one of the foremost defense attorneys in the country, and Arthur Garfield Hays who had worked with him on the Scopes "Monkey Trial" about evolution, to take on the case. White's high handed tactics angered the local black community which was barely mollified when he finally paid the black attorneys after initially refusing to compensate them. His tactic worked however and Sweet was eventually found not guilty in his second trial after the first one ended in a mistrial. The success strengthened his believe in the effectiveness of the central office rather than the branches leading in civil rights matters. The Sweet trial was also an important fund raising effort and provided the seed for what would eventually be the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
|Previous page on path||The NAACP in the 1920's, page 3 of 7||Next page on path|