The Moore's Ford Lynching InfoCenter

12. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals: Oct. 3, 2018


Elbert P. Tuttle United States Court of Appeals, Atlanta, GA


The Venue



The Issue

On Wednesday, October 3, 2018 in the Elbert P. Tuttle U. S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta, a panel of three appeals court judges grilled lawyers for both sides. They asked where lines should be drawn for the release of grand jury records and what potential harm could come from releasing the records.

They also wanted to know if binding court precedent that says federal judges have the authority to order release of grand jury records should apply.

Department of Justice attorney Brad Hinshelwood argued that rules governing grand jury secrecy (i.e., Rule 6(e)) allow for exceptions but that Pitch’s request doesn’t meet them. Those rules can be changed, he said, but that should be done by policymaking bodies rather than the courts.

Hinshelwood also argued that people who appear before a grand jury might behave differently if they thought the records might one day be released.

Joe Bell, Pitch’s lawyer, argued that the historical significance of the case and the possibility that real answers might come out were of enormous public interest. He also noted that all of the witnesses in this case are now dead.

Bell elaborated about the brutality of the crime, pointing out that “the victims were shot 60 times with pistols and shotguns, their skulls were crushed and their flesh was shredded.”

Previous rulings in the 11th Circuit and in other circuits have allowed the release of grand jury records for reasons not enumerated in the exceptions provided for by the rules, he argued.

“It’s been so long what would be the harm?” Judge Wilson asked Hinshelwood.

Hinshelwood's argument is that the 2017 decision by District Court Judge Marc T. Treadwell overstepped the court’s authority to release secret grand jury testimony. Rule 6(e) restricts release of grand jury information with few exceptions and historical interest is not one of the provisions outlined by the rule, according to the government’s argument.

If the rule was amended to include such records, the government would not oppose release of the Moore’s Ford transcripts, according to its brief filed in the case.

Prosecutors often argue that the grand jury process would be harmed if witnesses fear testimony will become public, making witnesses less cooperative.

Information on this page is extracted from the following media sources:

U.S., historian battle over unsealing records on 1946 lynching
by Associated Press writer Kate Brumback

~ and ~

Latest Moore’s Ford Dispute Centers on Grand Jury Transcripts
by Tim Bryant and Brad Schrade, Atlanta Journal-Constitution


3-Judge Panel Meets Atanya Lynette Hayes, Granddaughter of Roger Malcolm


Attorney Joe Bell reached out to Ms. Hayes in late September, 2018 to invite her to attend the October 3 Eleventh Circuit Court oral arguments in Atlanta. When Mr. Bell approached the podium, he introduced her to the three-judge panel as the first order of business in his summary. The ensuing silence was both poignant and impactful.

Roger Malcolm Hayes was 2-years-old at the time his father was lynched. His mother, Mattie Louise Campbell, the estranged wife of Roger Malcolm, took the toddler to Ohio where a family friend adopted him. Hayes returned on occasion to visit family and he regularly attended the memorial efforts to remember his father and the others lynched at Moore’s Ford, said his daughter Atanya-Lynette Hayes.

Roger Hayes was hopeful when authorities reopened the case in 2000 that his father’s killers would be found, but he died in April 2016 with nothing resolved, Ms. Hayes said.

He would “not be okay” with authorities closing the case, Ms. Hayes said.

“He wanted justice,” she said. “He never cared about retributions or money or anything. He wanted someone held accountable for murdering his father. It bothered him that people knew who did and protected those people.”

Atanya-Lynette Hayes should know by late May, 2019 if the truth about her grandfather's murder will finally be revealed.


Listen to the Eleventh Circuit Court Hearing, 10/3/2018


Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, Oral Argument Recordings; Anthony S. Pitch v. United States, Appellant
Docket No. 17-15016
Argument Date: 10/3/2018
Total Time: 35:56
Download Size: 32.9 Mb


A Post-Hearing Gathering


After the hearing, a group of supporters for Anthony S. Pitch gathered outside the courthouse including Attorney Joe Bell, Atanya-Lynette Hayes (granddaughter of Roger Malcolm) who flew in from Toledo, OH especially for this occasion, Cassandra Green (current Director of the Moore's Ford Memorial Committee), and other members of the MFMC.

Also in attendance were members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC, DeKalb).

Johnathon Kelso, a photographer for the New York Times, attended the hearing and photographed the pre- and post-event gatherings in Atlanta.


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