The State of Mississippi versus Jamie Scott and Gladys Scott: My First Encounter with Justice Denied
By: Nancy R. Lockhart, M.J.
Originally Appeared In Black Commentator
While driving the moving truck from
I secured a position as a Community Services Consultant with Rainbow/PUSH Coalition while completing my studies. I will never forget the frigid,
Allegedly, 9, 10, or 11 dollars was stolen. No one was injured, murdered or taken to the hospital. Though often discouraged, I’ve found out, through my interactions with Mrs. Rasco, that she is rich in perseverance and her belief in God.
The following months would comprise of in-depth research efforts, on my part, on behalf of the Scott sisters. After reading the transcripts, as well as other documents, many times, I spoke with various legal experts – one of whom passed away before completely assisting with the case. Subsequently, I was convinced that a grave injustice had been wrought from the judicial bench. This injustice has proven to be the misrepresentation of poor Black women seeking justice in
The parents of Jamie and Gladys Scott had felt that life for the family would be better in
On December 24, 1993, Scott County Sheriff’s Department arrested the sisters for armed robbery. In October of 1994, Jamie and Gladys Scott were sentenced to double life terms in prison. That’s double sentences each! Neither sister had prior convictions. Three young Black men confessed to the robbery, but implicated Jamie and Gladys in the crime. The three young men, all related and ranging from ages 14 to 18, confessed to committing the crime. Coercions, threats and promises later led these men to turn state’s evidence on the Scott Sisters. The 14-year-old testified that he signed a written statement without an attorney present. He was told that he would be sent up to Parchman Farm – the notorious Mississippi Penitentiary/Plantation – if he did not cooperate. In addition, he was told that he would be “made out of a woman” (raped by men) at Parchman. The 14-year-old witness had spent 10 months in jail and was, at this point, ready to get out. His confession was a condition of entering a plea agreement for strong-armed robbery, which does not carry a life sentence. The 14-year-old never read the statement. He only signed it.
In 1998, one of the Patrick Men wrote an affidavit telling the truth – that Jamie and Gladys were not involved. The court never heard the affidavit. There are presently three affidavits which state that Gladys and Jamie had nothing to do with this robbery.
According to the Request for Commutation of Sentence and/or Pardon prepared by attorney Chokwe Lumumba, the Scott Sisters challenged their convictions on direct appeal; arguing that there was insufficient evidence to convict them, and the guilty verdict was against the overwhelming weight of evidence, which should exonerate them. The court of appeals found no error and affirmed the convictions on December 17, 1996. As a result, they filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the Supreme Court, which was denied on May 15, 1997. They consequently filed an Application for Leave to File Motion to Vacate Conviction pursuant to the Mississippi Post Conviction Collateral Relief Act. The Supreme Court also denied that application.
The attorneys from the lower court failed to interview and subpoena witnesses for the hearing. The jury never heard the testimony from the victims. Their attorney only called one witness, when there were several. The sisters did not testify on their own behalf, because both their attorneys advised them not to. The attorneys failed to interview and subpoena the witnesses.
The affidavits of 3 witnesses were newly discovered evidence, and were unknown during the lower court trial. Attorney Chokwe Lumumba submitted a request for commutation of sentence and pardon to the governor. It was denied.
Gladys and Jamie’s older brother is presently serving in
Their children have suffered the most from justice denied.
To assist with the struggle for exoneration of the Scott sisters, please visit: