Syracuse law group assessing Morris case
posted Wednesday, April 18th, 2007 @ 2:58 pm
(Press Release From Syracuse University College of Law)
Syracuse University College of Law Professors Janis McDonald and Paula Johnson and a group of SU law students are volunteering to assess FBI documents -- newly obtained under the Freedom of Information Act -- on the unsolved civil rights murder case of Frank Morris in Ferriday.
In 1964, Morris, a 51-year-old African American shoe store owner, died of his burns four days after suspected Ku Klux Klan members forced him back into his store and burned it to the ground.
Before his death, Morris provided some information for the FBI probe, but no one was ever indicted by state or federal authorities for the crime. Recently, the U.S. Department of Justice indicated a willingness to reopen some of the 74 unsolved murders that occurred during the Civil Rights era of the 1950s and 60s.
Based on Professor McDonald's background as a former civil rights litigator and criminal defense attorney, Concordia Sentinel editor Stanley Nelson sought her assistance in bringing the Morris case back to the attention of proper authorities. The Sentinel has been writing about Morris' murder for the past two months.
Johnson, an expert in criminal law and procedure who has written and spoken extensively on matters of race, gender and law, will work with McDonald and the law students on the document review. Through their work, the group hopes their efforts will persuade the FBI and the United States Attorney's Office to reopen the investigation.
"This is an important opportunity for law students and Syracuse University College of Law to provide a service that matters," says McDonald. "If we can use our skills to help get justice for Mr. Morris and his family, then we are part of a wider community statement that no matter how long it takes, these murderers will be held accountable for this atrocity."
SU law students participating in the document review include Tahanie Aboushi of Staten Island, N.Y.; Ross Alexander of Logansport, IN; Rachael Hogan of Syracuse, N.Y.; Katherine Lawler of Timonium, MD.; Linnea Mitchem of Orland Park, IL.; Jonathan Saine of Denver, CO.; Paul Stylianou of Orlando, FL.; Noah Young of New York, N.Y.; and Pamela Young of Bartow, FL.