Top-Rated Free Essay

The Trial of Tom Robinson in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

Good Essays
'Guilty' verdict has been reached in the trial of Tom Robinson. A jury of twelve

whites has reached a verdict that Tom Robinson, a black male, raped Mayella Ewell,

a white woman. The rendition of this verdict has brought to a close a trial that has

captured the news and stirred the emotions of this town for several months. It

somehow seems fitting that this trial, for a most horrible crime, began during the

winter months when all of nature is dead, and has ended with the beginning of

Spring when all of nature seems to come alive.

Tom Robinson, a 25 year old black male, stood accused of raping a 19 year old

white woman named Mayella Ewell. The crime took place in November of last year.

Both the victim and the accused were lifelong residents of Maycomb, County and

were acquainted. Mr. Robinson was represented by County lawyer, Atticus Finch, a

well renowned and respected lawyer.

Highlights of the Trial

The Prosecution's strongest witness was the alleged victim, Mayella Ewell. Ms.

Ewell stated under oath that the defendant, Tom Robinson, was in fact the person

who raped her. However, there were several discrepancies in the testimony that she

provided under questioning and cross examination. The defendants lawyer, Atticus

Finch, tried to capitalize on the contradictory statements made by Ms. Ewell. He

questioned the witness using a variety of techniques and seemed to receive less than

uniform answers to the same questions that were asked in a different manner. At

times the witness appeared confused and became frustrated and emotional as Mr.

Finch continued to try and raise a reasonable doubt among the jurors concerning the

testimony that was being given by Ms. Ewell.

The Defenses' strongest witness was the accused himself, Tom Robinson.

Lawyer Finch called his client to the stand and questioned him about the allegations

that were being made about him. Mr. Robinson answered his lawyer's question in

what appeared to be a forthright and honest manner. He denied ever contemplating

or committing such a terrible crime. Mr. Finch pointed out that the bruises on the left

side of her face were consistent with the injuries that would have been rendered by

left handed person. He went on to demonstrate through logic that this would almost

definitely be the case. His client had a left arm that was rendered useless as the

result of an accident sustained while working a cotton gin.

The strongest defense portion of the case was the closing argument that was

delivered by Atticus Finch. Mr. Finch appealed to the all white jury asking them to

deliver verdict based on the facts of the case that were presented rather than on the

basis of the race of his client and the race of the victim. He appealed to the jury by

stating that they had the power to grant life or to end the life of his client. This

power that they were given comes with a great responsibility. The jury is responsible

to render a verdict that is based in fact and not tainted in any way by race, creed or

sex. In this case, the jury must apply the law in a color blind manner.

The Verdict and It's Consequences:

For Tom Robinson, the consequences of the trial and the rendition of the Guilty

verdict are quite simple and clear.

For the rest of us however, the consequences are not so clear and simple and they

will not be immediately known to us. A major consequence is that the race of the

defendant and the victim played a major role in the decision. A jury of all whites

convicted a black defendant on evidence that was far from beyond reasonable doubt.

Emotions ran high and although facts and not emotions should have been the basis

for the verdict that was certainly not the case. So this trial demonstrates that we as

people have a long way to go in treating all human beings as equals and protect them with the equal application of the laws of our land. We must strive to apply the

law in the manner that was defined by our forefather's , all men are created equal

and the law must be applied to all men on an equal basis and not on a basis that is

related to their race.

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Satisfactory Essays

    Tom Robinson was a civilized man who was trying to get home from work one day,and Mayella Ewell ruined that for him. In the unfair case of Tom Robinson he was accused of raping a girl he never found interest in.The case had a ruling set before it even started,because he was a black man. There was so much evidence that Mayella wasn't raped by Tom Robinson,some of the evidence were Tom's physical handicap from a cotton gin as well as his left arm being twelve inches shorter than his right and was not able to use his left arm.His color works againt him,the jury decides to believe mayella instead of Tom. Therefore, he was convicted and sent to jail.…

    • 255 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, continues to be taught today and should continue, as the characterization of the story, although fictional, has a high resemblance to real life cases and issues of the time. It captures critical lessons and teachings that are imperative to modern-day schools and present-day society. To Kill A Mockingbird depicts the inequality between blacks and whites in the 1930s by telling a captivating story including the issues of rape and racism. Although the fictional novel To Kill A Mockingbird was set in the 1930s, it references Civil Rights cases involving discrimination, racism, and segregation that were part of the Civil Rights movement throughout the whole century.…

    • 618 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    The jury must reach a verdict after considering all of the evidence presented. The jury helps to contribute to a impartial and fair trial. The jury system in To Kill A Mockingbird had a large impact on Tom Robinson’s case. This case was an example of a bias and unequal justice system, fuelled by the racial views of the town. For Tom Robinson’s trial the jury consisted of 12 white men, which was typical for juries of 1930’s in America. Robinson’s trial was not stand-alone case, here have been many parallel insidents in American history. For example “Scottsboro Boys’, nine young black men falsely accused of raping two white women on board a train near Scottsboro, Alabama. This case succeeded in highlighting the racism of the American legal system. Within two weeks of the women’s accusations the Scottsboro Boys were convicted and eight sentenced to death and the youngest, Leroy Wright, at the age of 13, to life imprisonment. This case illustrates through fact, what the author tried to covey in To Kill A…

    • 678 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Before the trial has even started the juries have already stated that Tom Robinson is guilty. The juries aren't even Toms peers they're 12 racist white men. No matter what evidence is presented at the trial, the racist jury would never, under any circumstances, acquit a black man accused of raping a white woman.…

    • 381 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    I tend to my garden as I watch several cars drive along my street back to their homes. Tom Robinson’s trial must be over. Before the trial even started, I predicted that the verdict would be guilty. When I saw Jem, Scout, and Dill arrive back at their house with long faces, my prediction was confirmed. It is still upsetting for me to hear that another innocent black man’s life was ruined because of the way white people treat them. I did not attend the trial; I do not wish to see an innocent person on trial for their life. I take off my gardening gloves and head inside. As I wash my hands, I see the children looking very upset and confused. I decide to make them chocolate cakes to help to cheer them up. They must be extremely confused and disappointed about the verdict of the trial. They are too young to completely understand our unfair society.…

    • 281 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    I walked into the court room, and looked at the jury, they were all white, I knew that it would have to be a miracle to get the jury to come back with the verdict that Tom Robinson was innocent. But I had a plan. If the trial goes well, I will appeal against the verdict, and then the court case will go to another place, where the jury won't be so biased against black people.…

    • 1464 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    An accusation based off of circumstantial evidence, a charismatic witness, and a life-changing conviction were only a few of the elements that caused major tension in the courtroom on July 19th. If you’re one of the few that didn’t come out to hear the gossip material of the year, we have all the juicy and intriguing details.…

    • 966 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Good Essays

    Imagine how hard life was for colored people back then. How one couldn’t even receive a fair trial because of someone’s color or ethnicity. How is was virtually impossible for them to receive a fair trial without people using stereotypes to structure their judgment. To Kill a Mockingbird demonstrates many conflicts, one being the beating and rape of a white woman by a black man, which back then was punishable by death. With this case, a man by the name of Atticus accepts to defend the man who is accused : Tom Robinson. Atticus has to endure what the society throws at him, along with his two children : Jem and Scout. To Kill a Mockingbird written by Harper Lee reveals, by using characters and characters’ actions and choices, it is morally correct to stand up and do the right thing. Without someone pointing out what is wrong with the society, things will never change for the better.…

    • 617 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view. . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it” (Lee 30). To Kill a Mockingbird written by Harper Lee revolves around Maycomb, Alabama, a county where racism is a rampant “disease” and judgement is present. Scout receives an imperative piece of moral advice from Atticus that controls her evolution for the rest of the novel. Rumors and gossip spread misconceptions about Tom Robinson, Dolphus Raymond, and Boo Radley that make them misunderstood.…

    • 779 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    “‘Well, Dill, after all he’s just a Negro.’ ‘I don’t care one speck. It ain’t right somehow it ain’t right to do ‘em that way. Hasn’t anybody got any business talkin’ like that-it just makes me sick,’”(Lee, 266). In the novel To Kill A Mockingbird author Harper Lee lays out the story of the Finch family consisting of two siblings, Jem and Scout, along with their widowed father Atticus. This family is faced with a tough break when Atticus get appointed a case to defend an African American (Tom Robinson) in the time of extreme discrimination. Growing up shapes and builds minds to what will fully become of them in future years even though there may be obstacles to endeavor through the process.…

    • 549 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    In To Kill A Mockingbird, Tom Robinson, a casualty in the fight for equality in place of racism, becomes mistreated. He went through some horrible predicaments especially in the event of the trial. In Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, Tom Robinson, shown as an innocent victim by the racism, circumstantial evidence, and opposing evidence, does not deserve a guilty verdict.…

    • 1286 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    Being a colored person in a white community can be very difficult. It is especially challenging for Tom Robinson in To Kill A Mockingbird, and also minorities in real life. Every day, they are discriminated against, and it is very unfair. To Kill a Mockingbird has many non-fiction parts, which makes the novel better than many others. Harper Lee presented Tom’s trial in ways that can be easily compared to real life trials, such as the Scottsboro trial.…

    • 928 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Finch gave a convincing argument, the jury was left to decide their votes. Under normal circumstances a jury in a black man versus white man trial only takes a few minutes to an hour. When the jury dragged on for a long two hours, Tom’s side put up an early celebration for the win in the trial, but when they came out two hours later the votes where anonymous, Tom was guilty. There was no solid proof that Tom raped Mayella so everyone is wondering…”what led the jury to vote guilty?” it’s a shame that cases like this are happening in our time. Towns like this are corrupt and evil, putting an innocent man to death because of the skin he was born with, something he can’t help. I came to Macomb to see it for once, good choices would prevail, but once again I was let down. Best of luck to Tom Robinson and his…

    • 495 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    a Negro. The defendant is not guilty, but someone in this courtroom is. I have nothing but…

    • 1144 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    The evidence presented today clearly shows that Tom Robinson is innocent, and casts all evidence upon on Bob Ewell. Three critical pieces of evidence clear Tom’s name.…

    • 362 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays