Moore's Ford News Posts: 2017 - Present

Remembering Anthony S. Pitch, Tireless Crusader for Justice in Unsolved Lynching


By Joseph J. Bell, Esq.  |  July 2, 2019

Anthony S. Pitch, author and my dear friend and client on the 1946 Moore’s Ford Lynching case, died Saturday, June 29, 2019 in a Maryland hospital. He was 80 years old.

Anthony spent the last six years of his life attempting to expose the truth about the brutal murders of four African-Americans on July 25, 1946 in Walton County, Georgia. He was determined to seek justice for the victims and their families.

Sadly, Anthony did not live to see the outcome of the litigation he filed in the courts seeking transparency from the government entities he believes held documents that could reveal what really occurred on that fateful day.

For those who knew Anthony, it was never about how many books he could sell or how much fame he could achieve. Anthony’s satisfaction came from digging out and documenting details factually related to the crime that had been long since buried over 73 years of stop-and-start investigations by state and federal agencies.

Perhaps the best example of this occurred when authorities in Georgia and the FBI informed him that the 1946 Moore’s Ford Grand Jury transcripts had been lost, stolen, or perhaps destroyed in a flood. Anthony simply was not buying it.

A tireless pit-bull of literary research with the tenacity of Sherlock Holmes, he filed a FOIA request (Freedom of Information Act) with the FBI and the National Archives. Suddenly, 10,000 documents that had never been seen before were at his doorstep – and as you might expect, he devoured every last one.

Although you’d have had to know Anthony to understand this, I believe the real prize he sought in navigating the legal minefield of grand jury secrecy was an unshakable belief that every success in court was a way for him to engage in a personal, private, and near-spiritual dialog with the victims and assure them “See…I told you we’d get to the bottom of this!”

Anthony S. Pitch was a champion of the persecuted, the downtrodden and the marginalized. While I am quite sure his literary successes meant a great deal to him, it was achieving something important for the little guy who could not do it for himself that exhilarated him and gave purpose to his life.

Anthony’s family has asked me to continue the battle to secure the 1946 Moore’s Ford Grand Jury transcripts. At the present time, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has decided it will re-hear the case of Pitch v. USA en banc (with all twelve judges) later this year.

Anthony, the fight will continue…and I will miss you dearly, my friend.

 

 

Eleventh Circuit Court will re-hear Pitch v. U.S. en banc


By Joseph J. Bell, Esq.  |  June 4, 2019

Recently, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals polled its members and on June 4, 2019 announced that it will re-hear the case of Pitch v. United States en banc (with the full panel of twelve judges) later this year. This also means that their February 11, 2019 decision is now vacated.

For those who’ve followed the Moore’s Ford Lynching case over the past five years, my client, author & historian Anthony S. Pitch, has won two key decisions in the Georgia courts: 1) the U. S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia granted Pitch’s petition to access the 1946 grand jury records on August 18, 2017; and 2) the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s decision on February 11, 2019 after the government filed an appeal.

Both Anthony Pitch and I look forward to having the case re-presented to the full panel of judges in the Eleventh Circuit. We view this as a favorable indicator of the court’s recognition that exceptional historical interest can and does allow for exceptions to Rule 6(e), the Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure governing privacy of grand jury proceedings.

Given the degree of precedent already established for exceptional historical interest in high-profile cases occurring far more recently than the 1946 Moore’s Ford Lynching (e.g., Julius & Ethel Rosenberg, Jimmy Hoffa, Richard Nixon, and Alger Hiss), Mr. Pitch and I remain confident that he will achieve his goal of securing the Moore’s Ford grand jury transcripts, thus bringing historical closure to this 73-year-old unsolved mass murder.

READ THE ANNOUNCEMENT  >>

 

 

 

Read the Eleventh Circuit Court's Decision


By Joseph J. Bell, Esq.  |  February 11, 2019


 

With a second court victory, Joe Bell brings justice closer for victims of a mass lynching on July 25, 1946.

 

 

Secrets of 1946 Mass Lynching Could Be Revealed After Court Ruling


The New York Times  |  By Matt Stevens, February 12, 2019

On July 25, 1946, two black couples were riding in a car in Walton County, Ga., when they were mobbed by a group of white men. They were dragged from the car at gunpoint and tied up. Then they were shot — about 60 times, at close range — and killed.

The episode, which became known as the Moore’s Ford lynchings, is considered by many to be the last mass lynching in American history. It prompted national outrage and led President Harry Truman to order a federal investigation, making the case a critical catalyst for the civil rights movement.

READ MORE  >>

 

 

Court: Release Georgia Lynching Case Transcripts


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution   |  By Brad Schrade, February 11, 2019

Long lost grand jury transcripts that could shed light on one of Georgia’s most notorious unsolved lynching cases should be released, a federal appeals panel affirmed on Monday.

The Moore’s Ford lynching was never solved, and none of the suspects in the white mob that brutally shot two African-American couples near a remote crossing of the Apalachee River was ever held accountable for the July 25, 1946 murders.

The transcripts from the federal grand jury that met in Athens in December 1946 are one of the last hopes for getting at an enduring question: What happened inside a closed grand jury room that led to no charges against any of the suspects in the mob?

...  READ MORE  >>

 

 

Appeals Court Orders Grand Jury Testimony Unsealed in the 1946 Case of the ‘Last Mass Lynching in America’


The Washington Post   |  By DeNeen L. Brown, February 12, 2019

On the afternoon of July 25, 1946, a white mob ambushed two black men and their wives in Walton County, Ga. The two couples were pulled from a car, beaten, tortured and fatally shot. Their skulls were cracked, their flesh was torn and their limbs were shredded.

The bodies of George W. Dorsey and his wife, Mae Murray Dorsey, and Roger Malcolm and his wife, Dorothy Malcolm, were left hanging near the Moore’s Ford wooden bridge over the Apalachee River, according to court records.

...  READ MORE  >>

 

 

Ruling May Help Unlock Answers to Notorious 1946 "Moore's Ford" Lynchings


CBS News   |  February 12, 2019

Atlanta -- A historian who has spent years looking into the unsolved lynching of two black couples in rural Georgia more than 70 years ago hopes some answers may finally be within his grasp.

A federal appeals court on Monday upheld a lower court ruling to unseal the transcripts of the grand jury proceedings that followed a months-long investigation into the killings.

...  READ MORE  >>

 

 

Court orders secret transcripts released in 1946 case considered to be America's last mass lynching


by Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN   |  February 12, 2019

A federal appeals court has ordered the release of transcripts from secret grand jury proceedings dealing with a 1946 race-fueled quadruple slaying that many historians consider the last mass lynching in America.

Activists have for decades sought justice in the Moore's Ford killings of four black sharecroppers at the hands of an angry white mob in Walton County, Georgia. They've employed actors to re-enact the grisly attack. During the annual portrayals, the killers drag the sharecroppers from a car, line them up and open fire, using firecrackers and ketchup for effect.

...  READ MORE  >>

 

 

Court Upholds Order to Unseal Records in Brazen Lynching


by Kate Brumbach, US News & World Report, AP   |  February 11, 2019

ATLANTA (AP) — A historian who has spent years looking into the unsolved lynching of two black couples in rural Georgia more than 70 years ago hopes some answers may finally be within his grasp.

A federal appeals court on Monday upheld a lower court ruling to unseal the transcripts of the grand jury proceedings that followed a monthslong investigation into the killings.

...  READ MORE  >>

 

 

NJ Lawyer Prevails in Unsealing Grand Jury Transcript in 1946 Lynching Case


NJ Law Journal, by Jonathan Ringel  |  February 12, 2019

In a win for a New Jersey lawyer representing a historian in Georgia, a split appeals court upheld a judge who ordered unsealing the transcript of a grand jury tasked with investigating the lynching of two African-American couples in 1946.

A federal grand jury charged no one in the mob beatings and shooting deaths of George and Mae Murray Dorsey and Roger and Dorothy Dorsey Malcom at Moore’s Ford Bridge.

More than 70 years later, historian Anthony Pitch petitioned the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia in Macon to unseal the transcripts, and in 2017, Judge Marc Treadwell agreed.

Joseph J. Bell of Rockaway’s Bell & Shivas represented Pitch.

...  READ MORE  >>

 

 

With second court victory, Morris lawyer Joe Bell brings justice closer for victims of mass lynching


MorristownGreen.com, by Kevin Coughlin  |  February 12, 2019

Who gunned down two black couples on the Moore’s Ford Bridge in Georgia early in the evening on July 25, 1946?

The question gnawed at Civil Rights crusader Thurgood Marshall, President Harry Truman and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. For decades, it’s haunted the victims’ families, historians and filmmakers.

Now, thanks to five years of pro bono work by a Morris County lawyer, answers to America’s last mass lynching finally may be near.

...  READ MORE  >>

 

 

Unsolved mass lynching grand jury testimony set for release thanks to N.J. lawyer


NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, by Noah Cohen  |  February 11, 2019

A judge on Monday ruled grand jury transcripts from the investigation into the 1946 unsolved murders of two black couples - brutal killings known as America’s last mass lynching - should be released after the efforts of a New Jersey lawyer.

A federal appeals court upheld a lower court decision to unseal the documents, which stem from an FBI probe into the horrific July 1946 murders of Roger and Dorothy Malcom, and George and Mae Murray Dorsey in rural Monroe, Georgia. The decision came from a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The U.S. Department of Justice argued grand jury transcripts are secret, while lawyer Joseph J. Bell Jr., of Bell & Shivas in Rockaway, countered that the historical significance of the files warranted an exception.

...  READ MORE  >>

 

 

Opinion: A Last Hope for Truth in a Mass Lynching (New York Times)

By The New York Times Editorial Board, Monday, October 8, 2018
A federal appeals court should release records of a grand jury that held no one responsible for a 1946 Georgia horror.

“The best people in town won’t talk,” a Georgia state trooper said after the white citizens of Walton County, embracing the Jim Crow code, pleaded ignorance about the mob that murdered two African-American couples in 1946, shooting them numerous times at point-blank range.

President Harry Truman ordered an extensive F.B.I. investigation of this horror, known as the Moore’s Ford Bridge lynching, America’s last mass lynching. More than 100 people were summoned to a grand jury that failed to indict anyone in the deaths of George W. Dorsey, his wife, Mae Murray Dorsey, and Roger and Dorothy Malcom (sometimes spelled Malcolm). The murders, like virtually all lynchings, remain unsolved.

...  READ MORE  >>

 

 

 

Sealed transcripts could hold clues in 1946 Moore’s Ford lynching case

By Brad Schrade - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Posted: 1:01 p.m. Tuesday, October 02, 2018
Attorney Joseph J. Bell Appears Before Eleventh Circuit Court in Atlanta, 10/3/2018

The 1946 Moore’s Ford lynching remains one of Georgia’s most notorious acts of racial terror. But an enduring question in the case is this: What happened inside a closed grand jury room to justify no one in the white mob getting charged?

Now, nearly 72 years after the federal grand jury met in Athens to consider the evidence collected in a massive FBI investigation, part of that mystery may be closer to a resolution.

Transcripts from the grand jury proceedings — long purported to be lost or destroyed — have surfaced. The legal battle to determine if they will be publicly released comes to Atlanta on Wednesday. ...  READ MORE  >>

 

 

 

More Media Coverage of October 3 Oral Arguments Before Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
(Joe Bell On Behalf of Anthony Pitch)

10/8/2018

U.S., Historian Battle Over Unsealing Records on 1946 Lynching
By Kate Brumback, The Philadelphia Tribune
Oct. 6, 2018

Moore’s Ford lynching case: Sides argue over release of secret transcripts
By Brad Schrade, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta, GA
Oct. 3, 2018

Historian seeks grand jury transcripts in Moore’s Ford lynching
By Kate Brumback, Online Athens, Athens, GA
Oct. 3, 2018

Historian wants grand jury transcripts in notorious lynching
by Associated Press, News4Jax.com, Jacksonville, FL
Oct. 3, 2018

Historian seeks grand jury transcripts in notorious lynching
By Kate Brumback, The Tribune of San Luis Obispo, CA
Oct. 2, 2018

 

Opinion: A Last Hope for Truth in a Mass Lynching (New York Times)
10/8/2018  |  By The New York Times Editorial Board
A federal appeals court should release records of a grand jury that held no one responsible for a 1946 Georgia horror.

“The best people in town won’t talk,” a Georgia state trooper said after the white citizens of Walton County, embracing the Jim Crow code, pleaded ignorance about the mob that murdered two African-American couples in 1946, shooting them numerous times at point-blank range.

President Harry Truman ordered an extensive F.B.I. investigation of this horror, known as the Moore’s Ford Bridge lynching, America’s last mass lynching. More than 100 people were summoned to a grand jury that failed to indict anyone in the deaths of George W. Dorsey, his wife, Mae Murray Dorsey, and Roger and Dorothy Malcom (sometimes spelled Malcolm). The murders, like virtually all lynchings, remain unsolved.

 

 

U.S., Historian Battle Over Unsealing Records on 1946 Lynching
10/6/2018  |  By Kate Brumback, The Philadelphia Tribune

 

 

Historian Seeks Grand Jury Transcripts in Notorious Lynching
10/3/2018  |  The New York Times

ATLANTA — Seven decades ago, a federal grand jury in Georgia heard 16 days of testimony but declared itself unable identify or indict anyone involved in the brazen lynching of two young black couples on a country road. Now a historian is fighting to find out what happened in that grand jury room. READ MORE  >>

 

 

Moore’s Ford lynching case: Sides argue over release of secret transcripts
10/3/2018  |  By Brad Schrade, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Atlanta, GA

 

 

Historian seeks grand jury transcripts in Moore’s Ford lynching
10/3/2018  |  By Kate Brumback, Online Athens, Athens, GA

 

 

Historian wants grand jury transcripts in notorious lynching
10/3/2018  |  By The Associated Press, News4Jax.com, Jacksonville, FL

 

 

Sealed transcripts could hold clues in 1946 Moore’s Ford lynching case
10/2/2018  |  By Brad Schrade - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Attorney Joseph J. Bell Appears Before Eleventh Circuit Court in Atlanta, 10/3/2018

The 1946 Moore’s Ford lynching remains one of Georgia’s most notorious acts of racial terror. But an enduring question in the case is this: What happened inside a closed grand jury room to justify no one in the white mob getting charged?

Now, nearly 72 years after the federal grand jury met in Athens to consider the evidence collected in a massive FBI investigation, part of that mystery may be closer to a resolution.

Transcripts from the grand jury proceedings — long purported to be lost or destroyed — have surfaced. The legal battle to determine if they will be publicly released comes to Atlanta on Wednesday. ...  READ MORE  >>

 

 

Historian seeks grand jury transcripts in notorious lynching
10/2/2018  |  By Kate Brumback, The Tribune of San Luis Obispo, CA

 

 

The 1946 Moore’s Ford Lynching Case: Another Push for Justice on 10/3/2018
9/15/2018  |  By Chip Hartman

By all assessments, the 1946 Moore’s Ford Lynching in Walton County, GA, still stands as America’s last unsolved mass murder. On October 3, 2018 in the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Attorney Joe Bell will deliver oral arguments to win an affirmation of his victory in the U. S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia back on August 18, 2017. The Eleventh Circuit Court's decision will either bring a long overdue closure to this 72-year-old case or consign it to an obscure and fading memory. READ MORE  >>

 

 

 

 

Moore's Ford: 11th Circuit Requires Mediation
1/20/2018  |  By Chip Hartman

The Eleventh Circuit Court protocol requires that all appealed cases go through a mediation session in an attempt to resolve the issue. The Moore's Ford Lynching case is a unique legal issue that can only be resolved through court action. Both sides (Joe Bell on behalf of Anthony S. Pitch ...  READ MORE  >>

 

 

 

1946 Moore's Ford Lynching Case: Victory!
1/3/2018  |  By Chip Hartman

Judge Marc Thomas Treadwell today ruled that Anthony S. Pitch's motion to unseal the Grand Jury testimony from the 1946 Moore's Ford Grand Jury has been granted. Read Judge Treadwell's decision for detailed information. IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA ...  READ MORE  >>