Samuel Legions - jury verdict overturned

October 27, 1941: At Leesburg, the young Negro Samuel Legions is accused of the rape of a white woman, Mrs Viola Miller, in her own home in front of her husband. He is found guilty and sentenced to death. On January 18, 1943, the Supreme Court of Virginia quashes his conviction in the following words:

“...we are mindful of the force of a jury’s verdict, approved by the trial court, but we have said time and again that we are not required to believe that which we know from human experience is inherently incredible. ‘What we know as men we are not required to forget as judges.’”

The full judgment can be found here. [Code warriors please note: this is a simplified version of the original webpage].

The reader is invited to read between the lines as to what actually happened, but bearing in mind that this was the Deep South, for an appellate court to reverse a jury verdict in a capital case in which the accused was a Negro, the real evidence must have indicated that both Viola Miller and her husband were lying. As far as I am aware, there has been only one such case in England, Rex v Wallace, (1931) in which a murder conviction was quashed by the then Court of Criminal Appeal.


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