Deep Delta Justice: A Black Teen, His Lawyer, and Their Groundbreaking Battle for Civil Rights in the South

Deep Delta Justice: A Black Teen, His Lawyer, and Their Groundbreaking Battle for Civil Rights in the South

by Matthew Van Meter


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The "arresting, astonishing history" of one lawyer and his defendant who together achieved a "civil rights milestone" (Justin Driver).

In 1966 in a small town in Louisiana, a 19-year-old black man named Gary Duncan pulled his car off the road to stop a fight. Duncan was arrested a few minutes later for the crime of putting his hand on the arm of a white child. Rather than accepting his fate, Duncan found Richard Sobol, a brilliant, 29-year-old lawyer from New York who was the only white attorney at "the most radical law firm" in New Orleans. Against them stood one of the most powerful white supremacists in the South, a man called simply "The Judge."

In this powerful work of character-driven history, journalist Matthew Van Meter vividly brings alive how a seemingly minor incident brought massive, systemic change to the criminal justice system. Using first-person interviews, in-depth research and a deep knowledge of the law, Van Meter shows how Gary Duncan's insistence on seeking justice empowered generations of defendants-disproportionately poor and black-to demand fair trials. Duncan v. Louisiana changed American law, but first it changed the lives of those who litigated it.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316435031
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 07/28/2020
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 127,791
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Matthew Van Meter works with people whose voices have been ignored or silenced, both as a journalist and as the Assistant Director of Shakespeare in Prison. His reporting on criminal justice has appeared in The Atlantic and The New Republic, and he is currently editing the first critical edition of Shakespeare written entirely by incarcerated people. Raised Quaker on the East Coast, he now lives in Detroit.

Table of Contents

Prologue-Down the Road 3

1 A Dirty Storm 7

2 The Boss 19

3 What Is Ours 29

4 Contact 40

5 Going to War 48

6 Determination and Unity 59

7 Dire Straits 64

8 Cruelty 71

9 Klantown, USA 78

10 The Case for the Prosecution 86

11 The Case for the Defense 96

12 Investigation 101

13 Trouble 107

14 No Error of Law 111

15 The Chief Engineer 117

16 Bailing Out 122

17 Where Is Your Law? 128

18 Absent and Unrepresented 133

19 The Fruits of Benevolence 137

20 Losing Everything 143

21 Having a Field Day 149

22 Flambeaux 159

23 Suppression 169

24 The Faces of This Case 179

25 If It Ain't True, It Oughta Be 185

26 First and Foremost 194

27 Workhorse 200

28 Profound Judgment 204

29 Tranquility 209

30 A Clean Storm 218

Epilogue 223

Afterword 227

Acknowledgments 233

Notes 237

Sources 267

Index 277

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