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In the Shooting Salvationist, David R. Stokes recounts the murder trial of fundamentalist clergyman J. Frank Norris. Despite muc - Essay Example

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Name: Tutor: Course: Date: Clergyman J. Frank Norris Murder Trial Dr. J. Frank Norris was a sensational preacher, a publisher and a broadcaster in the 1920’s. He lead the first megachurch in America called the First Baptist Church in Texas’ Fort Worth which had a congregation of over 10 000…
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In the Shooting Salvationist, David R. Stokes recounts the murder trial of fundamentalist clergyman J. Frank Norris. Despite muc
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"In the Shooting Salvationist, David R. Stokes recounts the murder trial of fundamentalist clergyman J. Frank Norris. Despite muc"

Download file to see previous pages The court was told of the Norris’ feuds with the Fort Worth Mayor where the preacher had alleged that the city Mayor was an adulterer. Mayor Meacham swore to his friend, D.E Chipps that, “something must be done” to stop Norris behavior (Stokes 56). Chipps, a local businessperson, agreed to face up to the preacher to threaten him against tainting the local politicians. On July 17, 1926, Chipps entered Norris office and threatened to kill him if he continued to attack the Mayor. According to an eyewitness, L.H. Nutt, Chipps then appeared to have left the building before storming back with the same threats. Norris was standing in front of his desk where a gun belonging to the guard of the church was kept in a drawer as a ‘safety precaution’. Norris then short Chipps three times and claiming that the attacker was “stronger and could easily have overpowered” him had the brawl resulted into a physical fight (Stokes 112). The defense team stood its ground that Norris acted in self-defense. According to Stokes, the defense team insisted that Norris’ popularity, fundamentalism views on modernity and his castigation of local leaders and sinners had attracted many enemies including the Mayor. Stokes and the final verdict seemed to agree that Dr. Frank Norris had not premeditated to murder Chipps. He only feared that the drunkard man endangered his life. To strengthen their case further, the defense team presented evidence of Norris inquiring from Nutt about Chipps identity. The case would have yielded different results had the court been presented with evidence that the preacher indeed had prior acquaintance with the victim. On these grounds, the court appeared to be reluctant to convict Dr. Norris of first-degree murder (Stokes, 34). Previous acquittal of Dr. Norris on arson and perjury also served to strengthen his ‘not-guilty’ plea. The prosecution team tried unsuccessfully to relate the two cases as proof that the preacher was culpable of the murder. This was never going to add weight to the case that was facing public scrutiny like never before in the American justice delivery history. There was an apparent fall-out between the public and the once renowned preacher. This was a weak point in the prosecution team because of the enormous task to proof behind reasonable doubt that it was not acting due to public pressure. Ultimately, this proved to be the breakdown of the trial in Norris favor as prosecution team appeared to be overreached. Stokes blamed both the jury and the prosecution team for the apparent injustice of finding Norris not guilty. The prosecutors could easily have won the case had they charged Norris with second-degree murder. Their overly vicious immovable decision to stage a “first-degree murder case or nothing” was not justifiable under the overwhelming evidence of the contrary (Stokes 150). The jury on the other hand appeared not to consider the possibility of advising the prosecutors to reconsider their stand. Their final decision baffled the whole world because the enormity of the case warranted a better rationale for a ‘not-guilty’ verdict. Stokes noted that Norris had “great gifts and abilities” but he exercised “coercion, control and manipulation…” to further his cause (Stokes 105). Dr. Norris strongly believed that “the end always justified the means” as he went to every length, including lying, to expand his doctrine of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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