Noah Walter Parden
- 41 year-old prominent black lawyer of Chattanooga,
described as “deliberate and cautious” in his legal practice. Educated at
Central Tennessee College in Nashville, TN (7). Took charge of appeals case
in defense of Ed Johnson, and brought case before US Supreme Court.
Parden had originally rejected Shepherd’s request that he assist with the case
because he believed the case was “too political and too socially divisive.”
Parden changed his mind after realizing Johnson’s likely innocence
through his own investigations prior to the first trial with Shepherd, and the
unexpected visitor in his office hours after the verdict—Ed Johnson’s father.
“Skinbone” Johnson explained to Parden that his son did want to appeal the
verdict; contrary to what he had told Shepherd, but he wanted Parden to
It was after Johnson’s father left that Hutchins sat down with
Parden and convinced him that they needed to take the case, and after much
deliberation, Parden agreed (139).
After fighting for months, with countless
sleepless nights and death threats, Parden achieved a partial victory in the fact
that he was given the opportunity to state his case in defense of Ed Johnson
before the nation’s highest court.
The success was bittersweet, however, as
Ed Johnson was killed on the day of the Supreme Court’s decision, while
Parden was spending the weekend with Hutchins and his wife at a friend’s
summer home to celebrate.
Styles Linton Hutchins
- Parden’s African-American partner in law.
having a polar opposite personality than that of Parden, as he was “flamboyant
He won by 8 votes over a white man in the 1886 election
for a state-legislative seat, but retired from politics at the end of his two-year
term in 1888 because of a large number of threats (138).
encouraged Parden to take the highly controversial and dangerous case
defending Johnson through the appeals by request from Johnson’s father, who
argued that his son was, in fact, innocent of the charges, as well as the fact
that the system had been extremely unfair through the hearings by not letting
Johnson’s family in.
Emmanuel D. Molyneaux Hewlett
- Powerful black attorney that teamed up with
Parden to bring Johnson’s case before the US Supreme Court.
one of the few black lawyers on the Supreme Court bar at the time, and helped
Parden achieve success in the Ed Johnson case.
- A single young black man with nothing more than a fourth grade
education who was accused of brutally assaulting and raping Nevada Taylor
after being identified by a white man, Will Hixson.
Johnson did not have a
The little income he earned came from doing various carpentry
jobs, such as building houses and working on roofs, as well as odd-jobs at the
Last Chance Saloon, which included sweeping, mopping, and tending to the
pool tables in the basement. (40) Few people knew much about Johnson, and