November 27, 2012

PRESS RELEASE: Cincinnati Bar Association Hosts Acclaimed Author for Legal Education Seminar

Cincinnati Bar Association Hosts Acclaimed Author for Legal Education Seminar
Mark Curriden, author of “Contempt of Court,” to speak at the CBA Saturday, December 1


CINCINNATI, NOV. 26—The Cincinnati Bar Association is pleased to welcome author Mark Currident to the Cincinnati Bar Center, Saturday, December 1 at 9:30 a.m. for a seminar focusing on his novel Contempt of Court.  This highly regarded novel examines the case of Ed Johnson and his two lawyers in the early 1900s who managed to redefine the practice of law.  The program has been described as a “gut-check for lawyers” about why they entered the legal profession, what it means to be a lawyer and the sacrifices and risks lawyers must make on behalf of their clients and in defense of constitutional rights.

The Story Behind the Program — Ed Johnson & U.S. vs. Shipp

In 1906 Ed Johnson was falsely accused of rape, railroaded through the criminal justice system and sentenced to death—all in three weeks. A lynch mob twice attacked the jail before the trial. His court-appointed attorneys abandoned him.  Two African-American lawyers, a family lawyer and a civil trial attorney, stepped forward to represent Johnson. Despite death threats from the mob and loss of all their clients, the lawyers vigorously advocated for their client. Their families were attacked. Their homes were burned. Even the judge used racist remarks in blasting them for their
work on the case.

But the two lawyers never wavered. In fact, they made legal history by filing the first federal habeas corpus action in a state criminal case. In doing so, one of the lawyers became the first black attorney to serve as lead counsel in a case presented to the U.S. Supreme Court and, to everyone’s surprise, convinced the Court to issue its first ever stay of execution in a state death penalty matter. Sadly, before the justices could act, an angry mob, aided by the judge and sheriff, raided the jail and lynched Johnson.

The lawyers convinced the Attorney General and the Supreme Court to charge the sheriff, his deputies and the leaders of the mob with criminal contempt of court. This led to the only criminal trial ever held in the history of the nation’s highest court.


About the Author

Mark Curriden is an award-winning legal journalist, bestselling author, and frequent lecturer at legal organizations across the country. Educated as a lawyer, Mark is a senior writer for the ABA Journal, which is the nation’s largest legal publication, and a regular contributor to the New York Times DealBook on matters of corporate and business law. He also holds the position of Writer in Residence at the SMU Dedman School of Law in Dallas.

For more information, to schedule an interview with Curriden or if you will be attending the event, please contact Laura Gaffin, communications director at or 513-699-1391.


About the Cincinnati Bar Association

Founded in 1872, the Cincinnati Bar Association is one of the oldest and largest metro bar associations in the country. Its mission is to maintain the highest professional standards among attorneys, to enhance the professional competence of attorneys, to improve the administration of justice, to serve the needs of members, and to provide law-related service and education to the public. Learn more at

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