The Alabama Court System

The Alabama court system is a substantial and relevant part of state government. In To Kill a Mockingbird, the judicial system does not practice what it preaches. Ideally, a jury of one’s peers dispassionately determines the guilt or innocence based on the facts; but in practice, pursuant to the novel, what genuinely happens is that a group of white men inadvertently give a verdict they had decided on before even entering the courtroom. The state court system is divided into three levels of jurisdiction which are, “the Supreme Court, the Court of Civil Appeals, and the Court of Criminal Appeals” (Judgepedia 1).

The Supreme Court is Alabama’s highest court, has the authority to oversee the decisions made by lower courts, and has nine judges. The Court of Criminal Appeals was established in 1969, has five judges, and deals with all cases relating to criminal matter. The Court of Civil Appeals also was established in 1969, has five judges, and handles cases pertaining to civil matters, including those related to domestic situations. There are also trial courts consisting of circuit, probate, municipal, juvenile, small claims, and district courts.

Some of the most important Alabama court trials were the “Powell vs. Alabama case in 1932” (Linder 3) and the “Norris vs. Alabama case in 1935” (Linder 9) which were held in the Jackson County Circuit Court. Both of these trials relate to “nine African- American men who were falsely accused of raping two white women” (Shaefer 1); eight of the accused were found guilty and sentenced to death. The state court system exemplifies an example of the white mans’ authority over minorities in Alabama during the 1930’s.

In the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, it illustrates justice being subverted by the white men. There was no evidence to prove that Tom Robinson beat and took advantage of Mayella Ewell. Even though it was clear that he was innocent, he was still found guilty and put in jail based on the testimony of three white people against the word of a black man. Overall, the court system seems to be a fair and equal process, but the reality is there is a different system of justice between the white and minority races.