The Moore's Ford Lynching InfoCenter

10. The Legal Battle Begins: 2013


How the Team of Anthony Pitch and Joe Bell Got Started


Attorney Joe Bell (Bell & Shivas, P. C., Rockaway Township, NJ) met Anthony Pitch when a group of ABA members were admitted to the United States Supreme Court.

The ABA had engaged Pitch for one of his bus tours of Washington, DC to show where the former Presidents lived before being elected to serve as the Chief Executive; e.g., Truman, John F. Kennedy; also on the tour stop was the FBI building.

Pitch has spoken in Ford's Theatre many times around the date of the assassination or death although he was not an annual lecturer.

He also gave tours about Lincoln beginning at the White House. Bell often participated bringing friends and students while he was teaching at The County College of Morris in Randolph, NJ.

Pitch told Bell on one of the visits about Moore's Ford and his quest to obtain Grand Jury transcripts. He was told by the FBI in Washington and Atlanta, the National Archives, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and countless other archival repositories that the grand jury records were either lost or destroyed and did not exist. told they were lost or destroyed; or perhaps were destroyed by a flood in Athens, GA in 1972."

Bell realized immediately the tremendous historical contribution Pitch might make in the cause to right the wrongs of a decades-old civil rights crime. Particularly disturbing to Bell was that George W. Dorsey had served his country with honor and distinction but, more than seven decades later, justice had yet to be served for his execution.

The two men quickly became friends and began a series of intense conversations about the formidable legal challenge of gaining access to sealed grand jury testimony.


The Legal Strategy


Bell’s strategy would be to persuade the U. S. District Court that the historical importance of the court records - along with the legitimate public interest in solving such a horrible crime - far outweighed any need for secrecy, especially given the long passage of time and the likelihood that all or most of the perpetrators were now dead.

Lending credence to this position was the fact that even more recent motions for grand jury disclosure had already been granted, notably in the cases of Richard Nixon, the Rosenbergs, Alger Hiss and Jimmy Hoffa. In those cases, the transcripts had been released based on the principle of “inherent supervisory authority” vested in District Court Judges.

In February, 2014, Bell filed a motion in the Middle District of Georgia on behalf of Pitch to secure the 1946 grand jury records.

In Re Petition Of: Anthony S. Pitch
February 3, 2014, 8:29 AM; Middle District of Georgia
Motion: Anthony S. Pitch’s Motion as presented by Joe Bell, 2/3/2014 (PDF), Judge Marc T. Treadwell

Hearing the case was Judge Marc T. Treadwell, District Court Judge for the Middle District of Georgia, Macon Division; but as a result of the government's search and inability to locate the relevant documents, Pitch's motion was dismissed without prejudice on August 19, 2014.

In Re Petition Of: Anthony S. Pitch
Miscellaneous No. 5:14-MC-2(MTT)
United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division
Attorney(s) appearing for the Case:
ANTHONY S PITCH, Petitioner, represented by JOSEPH J. BELL, Esq.
August 19, 2014
Order: Dismissed Without Prejudice, 8/19/2014 (PDF), Judge Marc T. Treadwell

Anthony Pitch was convinced that the grand jury records did in fact exist, so he set out to locate them using all the research and investigative tools at his disposal.


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