A fascinating examination of the Viola Liuzzo trials, with a foreword by Ari Berman

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In 1965 the drive for black voting rights in the south culminated in the epic Selma to Montgomery Freedom March. After brutal state police beatings stunned the nation on “Bloody Sunday,” troops under federal court order lined the route as the march finally made its way to the State Capitol and a triumphant address by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But within hours klan terror struck, claiming the life of one of the marchers, Viola Liuzzo, a Detroit mother of five. Turner offers an insider’s view of the three trials that took place over the following nine months—which finally resulted in the conviction of the killers. Despite eyewitness testimony by an FBI informant who was riding in the car with the killers, two all-white state juries refused to convict. It took a team of Civil Rights Division lawyers, led by the legendary John Doar, to produce the landmark jury verdict that klansmen were no longer above the law. This is must reading today, as the voting rights won in Selma come under renewed attack.

Explore several court documents, including court transcripts, exhibits, and memoranda on Fulcrum.org.

James P. Turner served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General, the senior career lawyer in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, for 25 years under seven consecutive Presidents of both parties.


“Jim Turner’s account of finally ending klan terror in the south calls each of us to recommit ourselves to do all we can to finish the work begun at Selma. There’s still work left to be done. Get out there and push and pull, until we redeem the soul of America.”
—Congressman John Lewis, who led the 1965 Selma to Montgomery Freedom Marches

“Jim Turner knows we will succeed because, in this country, basic human rights for all is our shared heritage. His first case was the 1965 conviction of the Alabama klan killers of Viola Liuzzo, an innocent Detroit housewife who came to help Selma’s blacks with few champions. That same year as a young white lawyer raised in Alabama cotton fields where blacks were treated like slaves, I decided to also do civil rights work. Selma and the Liuzzo Murder Trials is a civil rights legacy for all who should know our history.”
—Morris Dees, Founder, The Southern Poverty Law Center

“Fifty years ago, American justice triumphed over the Alabama klan—thanks to the fearless work of the Civil Rights Division. Jim Turner’s moving account reminds us that we can overcome the darkest attacks on human freedom, a lesson well worth remembering today as we confront new challenges to our basic civil rights.”
—Deval Patrick, former Governor of Massachusetts and former Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights

“Jim Turner recounts the true story of how a team of skilled federal lawyers accomplished the seemingly impossible—convicting the klansmen who murdered Viola Liuzzo in 1965—a victory for honest, non-partisan civil rights enforcement that ended a hundred years of klan immunity to the sting of justice.”
—Roy Reed, New York Times reporter who covered Selma and the Liuzzo trials
“The thorough, evidence-based approach that Jim Turner describes was key to securing justice in the South fifty years ago, and it is just as important today as we craft nationwide policies to combat the persistent impact of racial prejudice and discrimination.”
—Sarah Rosen Wartell, President, The Urban Institute
“Jim Turner shows us how critical an active, independent Civil Rights Division was to ending Jim Crow.  If you have any interest in civil rights history and our policies today--and who doesn't?--you have to read this book.” 
—Stanley Pottinger, former Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights and author of NYT best-seller The Fourth Procedure
"All people of good will, regardless of their party preference, can learn from Jim Turner's inspiring story of one of the first civil rights victories.  His courageous action is still needed today.  Through dedication, perseverance and honest law-enforcement we can protect the basic civil rights of all Americans."
— John Dunne, former Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, 1990-92
“James P. Turner’s compelling picture of state prosecutions marred by local prejudice and the successful federal prosecution in this landmark case is a timely reminder of why we need a strong Civil Rights Division in the U.S. Department of Justice when state law enforcement fails to protect our rights.”
—Brian K. Landsberg, McGeorge School of Law
“We need more Jim Turners in government today.”
—Ari Berman, author of Give Us the Ballot
“Jim Turner has written a wonderful book. He gives us an insider's view of one of the most important civil rights cases of the 1960s. Forget Grisham and Turow. This is the real deal.”
—Gary May, University of Delaware, Author of The Informant: The FBI, the Ku Klux Klan and the Murder of Viola Liuzzo and Bending Toward Justice: The Voting Rights Act and the Transformation of American Democracy


"James P. Turner has provided readers with an insider’s view of the federal government’s determination to secure some measure of justice for Viola Liuzzo, an ordinary woman who was inspired to come to Selma to help blacks gain the right to vote, but ended up losing her life in the process. Turner’s narrative is fast-paced and riveting, and he is understandably proud of his role (and that of the Justice Department) in securing these convictions, which he reminds us were 'the product of a determined judge, a group of lawyers committed to proving the truth, and of honest jurors who had finally awakened in the twentieth century (89).'" - Robert A. Pratt, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice Book Reviews

- Robert A. Pratt

Explore several court documents, including court transcripts, exhibits, and memoranda on Fulcrum.org.

Watch: Jim Turner talking about the book at the University of Colorado Law School Link | 5/1/2018Read: Jim Turner and Selma and the Liuzzo Murder Trials covered in The Pueblo Chieftain Link | 5/16/2018Listen: Jim Turner interviewed on the BBC | Link