The Moore's Ford Lynching InfoCenter

9. Pitch's Legal Challenge


Pitch’s Legal Problem


Even after his book went to press in 2016, Pitch knew he was still missing key pieces of the Moore’s Ford story, in particular, the statements made inside the Grand Jury Room in December, 1946. He realized that only this direct testimony taken under oath would have real evidentiary value in completing the historical record about the Moore’s Ford murders.

He also knew there were stringent protections for grand jury secrecy under Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, Rule 6(e), (enacted earlier in 1946). Pitch realized that he’d never see the grand jury transcripts without expert legal counsel to navigate Rule 6(e)’s gauntlet of exceptions, exclusions, and relevant case law.


The Grand Jury's Authority


The grand jury is the most powerful investigative agency in the federal criminal justice system. During the investigative phase the grand jury serves many of the same functions as federal police agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, but the grand jury wields significant powers not shared by the other investigative agencies.

The federal grand jury can compel the cooperation of persons who may have information relevant to the matters it is investigating. Persons who may have such information can lawfully refuse to be interviewed by police agencies, but any person can be subpoenaed to appear and testify under oath before a grand jury.


The Sanctity of Grand Jury Secrecy


The history of grand jury secrecy and the interests underlying the secrecy rules reflect a consistent theme: Grand juries are exclusively intended for use in the investigation and prosecution of crimes.

Any disclosure of grand jury material for a purpose other than direct criminal law enforcement requires a court order to be issued only upon a demonstration that there is a particularized and compelling need for such disclosure.

Where exceptions to the general rule of secrecy have been made to recognize emerging challenges to law enforcement, these exceptions have been quite limited in scope.

The exceptions have also been consistent in their use of judicial supervision to ensure that disclosures are limited to circumstances that present a specific need that outweighs the need for secrecy.


Sources & Resources



The primary sources used for developing content on these pages include the following:

Pitch, Anthony S., The Last Lynching: How a Gruesome Mass Murder Rocked a Small Georgia Town
Skyhorse Publishing, 307 W. 36th St., 11th Floor, New York City, N.Y. 10018 © 2016 by Anthony S. Pitch

Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI)
Region 11 Investigative Case Summary (565 pages, PDF)

Additional sources used for developing content on these pages include the following:

The 1946 Moore’s Ford Lynching Case: Another Push for Justice on 10/3/2018
2018 - September 16


Original entry by E. M. Beck, University of Georgia, Stewart E. Tolnay, University of Washington, Seattle, 01/26/2007
2018 - August 26


Activists look to keep history alive through reenactment of Moore's Ford lynching
By Hope Ford, Adrianne Haney
2018 - July 27


Investigations into 1946 Georgia lynching ends, hope for answers lingers
Chattanooga Times Free Press
2018 - March 7
by Associated Press


1946 Lynching: Investigations End, Hope for Answers Lingers
By: KATE BRUMBACK, Associated Press
2018 - February 27


1946 lynching: Investigations end, hope for answers lingers
AP Images Blog
2018 - February 27


Answers to last mass lynching in U.S. die when investigators close case after 72 years
SPLC - Southern Poverty Law Center, By Brett Barrouquere
2018 - February 7


Notorious Ga. Lynching Case Closes After Years of Anguish, No Justice
Article by Brad Schrade, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
2018 - January 24


Probes of Moore’s Ford Lynching End with No Charges, AJC learns
By Brad Schrade - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
2017 - December 28


Morris County Lawyer Wins Release of Records from 1946 Mass Lynching Case, by Kevin Coughlin
2017 - August 18


Morris County Attorney Seeks Justice in Gruesome 1946 Lynching, by Kevin Coughlin
2017 - July 31


Righting an Historic Wrong: The 1946 Moore's Ford Lynching Case May Finally Be Drawing to a Close
By Joe Bell, Esq.
2017 - July 17


The Horror of Lynchings Lives On
The New York Times, by the Editorial Board
2016 - December 3


A Lynching in Georgia: the Living Memorial to America’s History of Racist Violence
2016 - November 2


70th observance of Moore’s Ford lynching set in Monroe; reenactment of killings planned
By Wayne Ford
2016 - July 21


FBI Questions Elderly Georgia Man in Connection with Unsolved 1946 Lynching at Moore’s Ford Bridge
New York Daily News, by Doyle Murphy
2015 - February 17, 2015


Civil Rights Leaders Claim New Leads in 68-year-old Moore’s Ford Lynching Case
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, by Christian Boone
2014 - March 5


U.S. Urges Opening Up Old Grand Jury Records
New York Times, by Charlie Savage
2011 - October 19


Judge Orders Release of Nixon’s Watergate Testimony
By JOHN SCHWARTZ, New York Times
2011 - July 29


Holding on to Those Who Can't Be Held: Reenacting a Lynching at Moore's Ford, Georgia
Central Washington University, by Mark Auslander
2010 - November 8


'Murder' Seeks Justice for Victims Of Jim Crow Era
Special to The Washington Post, by Ellen Maguire
2008 - October 6


Seeking Justice for Victims of Terror Long Ago
New York Times, by Felicia R. Lee
2008 - October 3


New evidence collected in 1946 lynching case
CNN, by Doug Gross
2008 - July 2


Looking Behind Tragedy at Moore's Ford Bridge; Foot soldier of civil rights era works to solve 60-year-old-mystery, Associated Press (AP)
2006 - July 24


1946 Killing Of 4 Blacks Is Recalled
New York Times
1999 - June 1