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|Size||0.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 90 items)|
|Abstract||Transcripts of testimony, briefs, clippings, taped interviews conducted by James Reston, and other materials relating to the trial of Joan Little, a black prisoner who was accused and acquitted of murder in the death of a white male jailer in Washington, N.C., in 1975. Reston used these materials to write "The Innocence of Joan Little" (1977). Interviewees include Golden Frinks, civil rights activist; Joan Little; Jerry Paul, defense attorney; Richard Wolf, an astrologer who helped the defense in jury selection; and three North Carolina women prisoners.|
|Creator||Reston, James, Jr., 1941-|
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On 27 August 1974, the half naked body of Clarence Alligood was found in the Beaufort County Jail in Washington, North Carolina. The white jailer had been stabbed to death with an ice-pick, and his twenty-one year old black female prisoner, Joan Little, was gone. Little surrendered to North Carolina authorities over a week later insisting that she had acted in self-defense against a sexual assault. She was charged with first degree murder, which carried an automatic death sentence if convicted under contemporary North Carolina law.
The Joan Little murder trial captured national attention and made the defendant a symbol for feminists, civil rights activists, and opponents of capital punishment. Using highly sophisticated fundraising techniques, the Joan Little Defense Committee raised over $350,000 nationally and around the world for her defense. On 14 August 1975, she was acquitted.
James Reston was a faculty member at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who collected information during the trial for a book exploring the case. For further information see James Reston, The Innocence of Joan Little: A Southern Mystery (New York Times Books, 1977).Back to Top
This collection documents the Joan Little murder trial through transcripts of testimony, trial briefs, lawyers' arguments, and newspaper clippings. Recorded interviews conducted by Reston with major figures in the case provide further information not admitted in the trial itself. Reston used these materials to write his book exploring the varied perspectives of significant participants in the trial.Back to Top
Includes typed transcripts of testimony, lawyers' arguments to the jury, and trial briefs.
Chiefly clippings about the trial taken from North Carolina newspapers. This series also includes press releases and a script for a video presentation, "The Joan Little Story," produced by James Reston.
Cassette tapes of interviews conducted by James Reston with significant participants in the Joan Little trial. Reston's book, The Innocence of Joan Little, contains chapters on many of the individuals heard on these tapes. The sound quality on some cassettes is poor.
Processed by: Lisa Tolbert, December 1989
Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008Back to Top