Efforts Underway to Exonerate 14-Year-Old Executed in South Carolina in 1944

Attorneys representing the family of George Stinney, Jr., recently filed a request for a posthumous exoneration of Mr. Stinney, the youngest person executed in the U.S. in the 20th century. Stinney, an African-American 14-year-old, was executed in 1944 for the murder of two young white girls less than three months after a trial that was filled with errors. Although Clarendon County, South Carolina, where the trial took place, had a population that was 72% black, only whites served on Stinney's jury. Stinney's lawyer offered virtually no defense. His relatives, who could have offered an alibi, were not called to testify. Stinney allegedly made a confession, but the contents of his statement have never been revealed. His attorney did not file an appeal, so no court ever reviewed his trial. In a supportive brief in the effort to clear Stinney, the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project of Northeastern University School of Law stated, "The prosecution of George Stinney constituted a grave miscarriage of justice, causing great suffering for his family...Stinney’s shocking treatment was inconsistent with the most fundamental notions of due process, including but certainly not limited to the right to effective assistance of counsel."

A hearing on the motion for exoneration was held in a South Carolina Circuit Court in January 2014.

(D. Turner, "Paperwork Deadline Met in George Stinney, Jr. Case," WLTX, February 24, 2014; DPIC posted Mar. 12, 2014). Read the press release and amicus curiae brief from the Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project (On the brief, Northeastern University School of Law’s Margaret Burnham and Michael Meltsner, and South Carolina lawyer Armand Derfner). See Juveniles and Innocence.