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Giles-Johnson Defense Committeearchives

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1903.1/1244

Abstract

Title:
Giles-Johnson Defense Committeearchives
Author/Creator:
Giles-Johnson Defense Committee
Collection number:
73-2
Size:
8.50 linear feet
Bulk dates:
1962-1971
Inclusive dates:
1962-1971
Collection Area:
State of Maryland and Historical Collections
Repository:
Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries, Hornbake Library, College Park, MD 20742. Tel: 301-405-9212, Fax: 301-314-2709, Email: askhornbake@umd.edu
Abstract:

The Giles-Johnson Defense Committee was a volunteer group of Montgomery County citizens working for the defense of James and John Giles, and Joseph Johnson, three black men arrested on charges of rape in 1961. The collection includes correspondence, reports, newsletters, fact sheets, legal briefs, and statements of the committee relating to the arrest, imprisonment, trials, defense, and release of Johnson and the Giles brothers.

Important Information for Users of the Collection

Restrictions:

This collection is open for research.

Preferred citation:

Giles-Johnson Defense Committeearchives, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

Publication rights:

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.

Status:

This collection is PROCESSED.

Historical Note

The Giles-Johnson Defense Committee was established in July 1962 by Mrs. Howard Ross and sixty other Maryland residents to aid three young black men, James Giles, John Giles, and Joseph Johnson, who were sentenced to death for allegedly raping a white teenage girl, Joyce Roberts, in 1961. This case outraged the community because of the severity of the sentence, the suppression of evidence by the state, and other injustices perceived as racially motivated. Due to the efforts of the committee, Governor J. Millard Tawes commuted the death sentence to life imprisonment in October 1963. The Giles brothers were retried in 1967 and the charges were dropped. Joseph Johnson was eventually pardoned by Governor Spiro T. Agnew in 1968. John Giles was shot and killed in Baltimore in 1971.

This landmark case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. As a result of the committee's exertions, the Maryland law which limits motions for trials based on newly-discovered evidence to three days after sentencing, was changed.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The records of the Giles-Johnson Defense Committee span the years 1962-1971. The bulk of the materials covers 1962 to 1968. The files include correspondence, reports, legal documents, articles, newspaper clippings, photographs, an audio tape, working papers, book manuscripts, publications, and research materials relating to the defense of the Giles brothers and Joseph Johnson.

Topics covered in the records include racism, poverty, Maryland law, rape, capital punishment, social justice, and the character of judges, jurors, prosecutors, and police officials. People who played a prominent role in this case include Dr. Harold A. Knapp, a physicist at the Department of Defense who was very active on the committee; Mrs. Howard Ross, the chair of the committee; the defendants and their attorneys, and the plaintiffs and their legal counsel.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The records of the Giles-Johnson Defense Committee were donated to the University of Maryland College Park Libraries by Franz Alt, in 1971 and by Samuel Legg, in 1974.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Processed by Gretchen K. Youngerman, August 1989.

Processing note:

Ten series were created from the records of the Giles-Johnson Defense Committee. Reports bound by staples and metal clasps were removed from the original binding. All materials were placed in acid-free folders and boxes. All paper clips were replaced by plastic clips. The audio tape was transferred to the tape collection and the photographs were separated and placed in the photograph collection.

Encoded by:

EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Janna Robinson, March 15, 2005.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Administrative Files, 1962-1969 and undated (1 linear foot)

This series consists of correspondence, minutes, financial reports, and newsletters of various committees, including the Education Committee and the Executive Committee, arranged alphabetically by subject.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Correspondence, 1962-1969 series 1box 1folder 1
Correspondence, 1962-1969 series 1box 1folder 2
Correspondence, 1962-1969 series 1box 1folder 3
Correspondence, 1962-1969 series 1box 1folder 4
Correspondence, 1962-1969 series 1box 1folder 5
Correspondence, 1962-1969 series 1box 1folder 6
Correspondence, 1962-1969 series 1box 1folder 7
Correspondence, 1962-1969 series 1box 1folder 8
Education Committee, 1966-1971 series 1box 2folder 1
Executive Committee, 1962-1967 series 1box 2folder 2
Expenses, 1963-1967 series 1box 2folder 3
General Meeting Minutes, 1962-1967 series 1box 2folder 4
Legal Reform Committee, 1965-1966 series 1box 2folder 5
Mail Distribution, 1968 and undated series 1box 2folder 6
Membership Lists, 1964-1968 series 1box 2folder 7
Miscellaneous Notes, 1963 and undated series 1box 2folder 8
News Media, 1963-1968 series 1box 2folder 9
Police Reports, 1961 series 1box 2folder 10
Press Releases, 1963-1968 series 1box 2folder 11
Publications, 1963-1964 series 1box 3folder 1
Publications, 1963-1964 series 1box 3folder 2
Publications, 1963-1964 series 1box 3folder 3

Series 2: Defendants and Their Legal Counsel, 1962-1971 (1 linear foot)

Series II includes correspondence between defendants and Dr. Harold A. Knapp, Mrs. Howard Ross, Samuel Legg, Mrs. Giles, Hal Witt, Joseph Forer, Stedman Prescott, and others, arranged alphabetically by author.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
James Giles -- Correspondence -- H.A. Knapp, 1963-1967 series 2box 3folder 4
James Giles -- Correspondence -- H.A. Knapp, 1963-1967 series 2box 3folder 5
James Giles -- Correspondence -- H.A. Knapp, 1963-1967 series 2box 3folder 6
James Giles -- Correspondence -- H.A. Knapp, 1963-1967 series 2box 3folder 7
James Giles -- Correspondence -- Mrs. Ross, 1962-1971 series 2box 4folder 1
James Giles-- Personal -- Personal, 1962-1968 series 2box 4folder 2
James Giles-- Trial for Forgery -- Trial for Forgery, 1971 series 2box 4folder 3
John Giles -- Correspondence -- H.A. Knapp, 1963-1969 series 2box 4folder 4
John Giles -- Correspondence -- H.A. Knapp, 1963-1969 series 2box 4folder 5
John Giles -- Correspondence -- H.A. Knapp, 1963-1969 series 2box 4folder 6
John Giles -- Correspondence -- H.A. Knapp, 1963-1969 series 2box 4folder 7
John Giles -- Correspondence -- Mrs. Ross, 1962-1968 series 2box 4folder 8
John Giles -- Correspondence -- Mrs. Ross, 1962-1968 series 2box 4folder 9
John Giles-- Personal -- Personal, 1962-1971 series 2box 4folder 10
Giles Family-- Correspondence -- Correspondence, 1962-1963 series 2box 4folder 11
Giles-- Sexually Transmitted Diseases -- Sexually Transmitted Diseases, 1967 series 2box 4folder 12
Joseph Johnson -- Correspondence -- H.A. Knapp, 1963-1967 series 2box 5folder 1
Joseph Johnson -- Correspondence -- H.A. Knapp, 1963-1967 series 2box 5folder 2
Joseph Johnson -- Personal, 1962-1968 series 2box 5folder 3
Hal Witt/ Joseph Forer/ Stedman Prescott, 1962-1967 series 2box 5folder 4

Series 3: Plaintiffs and Opposing Attorney, 1962-1967 (0.5 linear foot)

This series includes correspondence and police reports about Joyce Roberts, Stephen Foster, and Leonard Kardy, arranged alphabetically by subject.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Steven Foster, 1962-1967 series 3box 5folder 5
Leonard T. Kardy, 1963-1965 series 3box 5folder 6
Joyce Roberts, 1961-1967 series 3box 5folder 7

Series 4: Legal Documents, 1961-1968 and undated (1.5 linear feet)

Series IV consists of legal briefs and other documents related to the trials, hearings, repeals, and pardons of the three defendants. Of particular interest is the documentation covering the Supreme Court hearing. Arrangement is chronological.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Transcript of Testimony, 1961 series 4box 6folder 1
Trial Transcript, 1961 series 4box 6folder 2
Motion for Severance, 1961 series 4box 6folder 3
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Montgomery County, 1961 series 4box 6folder 4
Trial Transcript, 1964 series 4box 7folder 1
Post-hearing Memoranda, 1964 series 4box 7folder 2
Transcript of Depositions, 1964 series 4box 7folder 3
Post-conviction Proceedings, 1964 series 4box 7folder 4
Writ of Certiorari, 1965-1966 series 4box 7folder 5
Writ of Certiorari, 1965-1966 series 4box 7folder 6
Appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, 1966 series 4box 7folder 7
Motion for Leave to File Amended Petition, 1967 series 4box 8folder 1
Motion to Dismiss second and third Counts, 1967 series 4box 8folder 2
Motion to Dismiss Indictment, 1967 series 4box 8folder 3
Pardon, 1968 series 4box 8folder 4
Miscellaneous Evidence, Undated series 4box 8folder 5

Series 5: Defense Committee Supporters, 1962-1971 and undated (2 linear feet)

Series V consists of correspondence, working notes, and book manuscripts of Dr. Knapp, and the correspondence of Mrs. Ross, the chairman of the committee, to the defendants, media, public officials, and others. Dr. Knapp's arrest and lawsuits against Dr. Knapp, Hal Witt, and Mrs. Ross are documented. Arrangement is alphabetical by author.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
H.A. Knapp -- Book Manuscript, Undated series 5box 8folder 6
H.A. Knapp -- Book Manuscript, Undated series 5box 8folder 7
H.A. Knapp -- Book Manuscript, Undated series 5box 8folder 8
H.A. Knapp -- Book Manuscript, Undated series 5box 8folder 9
H.A. Knapp -- Book Manuscript, Undated series 5box 8folder 10
H.A. Knapp -- Book Manuscript, Undated series 5box 8folder 11
H.A. Knapp -- Book Manuscript, Undated series 5box 8folder 12
H.A. Knapp -- Book Manuscript, Undated series 5box 8folder 13
H.A. Knapp -- Book Manuscript, Undated series 5box 8folder 14
H.A. Knapp -- Correspondence, 1962-1965 series 5box 8folder 15
H.A. Knapp -- Correspondence, 1962-1965 series 5box 8folder 16
H.A. Knapp -- Correspondence, 1962-1965 series 5box 8folder 17
H.A. Knapp -- Correspondence, 1966-1971 series 5box 9folder 1
H.A. Knapp -- Correspondence, 1966-1971 series 5box 9folder 2
H.A. Knapp -- Correspondence, 1966-1971 series 5box 9folder 3
H.A. Knapp -- Correspondence, 1966-1971 series 5box 9folder 4
H.A. Knapp -- Correspondence -- Federal, State, and Local Officials, 1963-1968 series 5box 9folder 5
H.A. Knapp -- Correspondence -- Giles-Johnson, 1963-1968 series 5box 9folder 6
H.A. Knapp -- Correspondence -- Giles-Johnson, 1963-1968 series 5box 9folder 7
H.A. Knapp -- Correspondence -- Governor of Maryland, 1962-1968 series 5box 10folder 1
H.A. Knapp -- Correspondence -- Disorderly Conduct charge brought by Marion Roberts, 1964 series 5box 10folder 2
H.A. Knapp -- Correspondence -- Nuisance Telephone Calls and Letters Received, 1964-1968 and undated series 5box 10folder 3
H.A. Knapp -- Lawsuit -- Demurr to Declaration, 1964 series 5box 10folder 4
H.A. Knapp -- Lawsuit -- Roberts vs. Ross, Knapp, and Witt, 1965 series 5box 10folder 5
H.A. Knapp -- Motion Pictures, 1969 series 5box 11folder 1
H.A. Knapp -- Publication, 1965 series 5box 11folder 2
H.A. Knapp -- Releases, 1963 series 5box 11folder 3
H.A. Knapp -- Working Papers, 1964-1965 and undated series 5box 11folder 4
H.A. Knapp -- Working Papers, 1964-1965 and undated series 5box 11folder 5
Mrs. Ross -- Correspondence, 1962-1970 series 5box 11folder 6
Mrs. Ross -- Correspondence, 1962-1970 series 5box 11folder 7
Mrs. Ross -- Correspondence, 1962-1970 series 5box 11folder 8
Mrs. Ross -- Correspondence, 1962-1970 series 5box 11folder 9
Mrs. Ross -- Correspondence, 1962-1970 series 5box 11folder 10
Mrs. Ross -- Correspondence, 1962-1970 series 5box 11folder 11
Mrs. Ross -- Correspondence, 1962-1970 series 5box 11folder 12
Mrs. Ross -- Correspondence, 1962-1970 series 5box 11folder 13

Series 6: Newspaper Clippings, 1960-1975 and undated (2.25 linear feet)

This series includes newspaper clippings relating to the case from local newspapers. Arrangement is chronological by year.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Newspaper Clippings, 1960-1963 series 6box 12folder 1
Newspaper Clippings, 1960-1963 series 6box 12folder 2
Newspaper Clippings, 1960-1963 series 6box 12folder 3
Newspaper Clippings, 1960-1963 series 6box 12folder 4
Newspaper Clippings, 1960-1963 series 6box 12folder 5
Newspaper Clippings, 1964-1965 series 6box 13folder 1
Newspaper Clippings, 1964-1965 series 6box 13folder 2
Newspaper Clippings, 1964-1965 series 6box 13folder 3
Newspaper Clippings, 1965-1967 series 6box 14folder 1
Newspaper Clippings, 1965-1967 series 6box 14folder 2
Newspaper Clippings, 1965-1967 series 6box 14folder 3
Newspaper Clippings, 1965-1967 series 6box 14folder 4
Newspaper Clippings, 1967-1970 series 6box 15folder 1
Newspaper Clippings, 1967-1970 series 6box 15folder 2
Newspaper Clippings, 1967-1970 series 6box 15folder 3
Newspaper Clippings, 1967-1970 series 6box 15folder 4
Newspaper Clippings, 1967-1970 series 6box 15folder 5
Newspaper Clippings, 1971-1975 and undated series 6box 16folder 1
Newspaper Clippings, 1971-1975 and undated series 6box 16folder 2
Newspaper Clippings, 1971-1975 and undated series 6box 16folder 3
Newspaper Clippings, 1971-1975 and undated series 6box 16folder 4

Series 7: Photographs, Undated (0.5 linear foot)

Series VII consists of approximately 70 black-and-white and color photographs of individuals involved in the case, the location of the alleged rape, and the accomplishments of the defendants in their vocational training. These materials have been transferred to the photographic collection (photograph numbers 15409 through 15415 and accession 74-11).

The box inventory for this series is not currently available online. Please refer to the series description above for a broad description of the materials or contact the department for more information.

Series 8: Related Cases, 1963-1969 (0.25 linear foot)

Included in this series are correspondence, reports, and research materials about similar legal cases, such as the Essaw Hall case, arranged alphabetically by subject.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Essaw Hill, 1968-1969 series 8box 16folder 5
Harvey Rosenberg, 1966 series 8box 16folder 6
William D. Zantzinger, 1963 series 8box 16folder 7

Series 9: Related Organizations, 1963 and undated (0.5 linear foot)

This series consists of correspondence and reports from organizations with related interests, including the Maryland Council for the Abolition of the Death Penalty, arranged alphabetically by organization.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Commission on Human Relations, 1963 series 9box 16folder 8
Maryland Commission for the Abolition of the Death Penalty, Undated series 9box 16folder 9

Series 10: Related Issues, 1946-1967 and undated (null)

Series X consists of correspondence and notes about issues related to the case, including rape and suppression of evidence, arranged alphabetically by subject.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Campaign Contributions, 1962 series 10box 16folder 10
Civil Liberties, Undated series 10box 16folder 11
Clemency, 1964 series 10box 16folder 12
Judiciary Process, 1961 and undated series 10box 16folder 13
Jury Selection, 1962-1964 and undated series 10box 16folder 14
Maps, 1961-1963 and undated series 10box 16folder 15
Miscellaneous, 1962-1967 and undated series 10box 16folder 16
Montgomery County, 1960-1967 and undated series 10box 17folder 1
Rape, 1946-1966 and undated series 10box 17folder 2
Suppression of Evidence, 1962-1967 series 10box 17folder 3

Related Material

For other related archival and manuscript collections, please see the following subject guides.

Selected Search Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the University of Maryland Libraries' Catalog. Researchers desiring related materials about these topics, names, or places may search the Catalog using these headings.

Subjects

Names (Added Entries)