Preliminary legal motions are presented in the Beaufort County, North Carolina, Superior Court in the celebrated murder case of Joann Little.
1975 (Apr 14)
Preliminary legal motions were presented in the Beaufort County, North Carolina, Superior Court in the celebrated murder case of Joann Little, a twenty-year-old Black woman charged with murder after a Beaufort County Jail guard, Clarence Alligood, was found dead in her cell on August 27, 1974. Little pleaded self-defense on the grounds that the seminude Alligood had attempted to rape her. In the preliminary legal skirmishes, Little's attorneys, Jerry Paul and Karen Galloway, sought a change of venue and a delay of the trial. They argued that racist feelings and pretrial publicity had made it impossible for Little to get a fair trial in Beaufort County. The Little case became a cause célèbre when civil rights groups and feminist organizations rallied to the young Black woman's defense, claiming that the case typified the abuses that the Southern criminal justice system had long heaped upon Blacks and women. By early April, thousands of dollars had been raised on behalf of the defense effort. Also, Representative Shirley Chisholm from New York asked U.S. Attorney General Edward Levy to intervene in the case on Little's behalf. Representative Chisholm said: “There are very few Black people of either sex called to serve on juries in these eastern North Carolina counties. So this can really hurt Joann, who lives in a region where many, many Caucasian people hold the worst sort of prejudices against Black women.”