From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Hale v. Commonwealth of Kentucky (case)

Hale v. Commonwealth of Kentucky was a 1938 U.S. Supreme Court case on discrimination in jury selections and criminal trials. Nineteen year old Joe Hale, an African American, had been convicted and sentenced to death in 1936 for the murder of a white man in Paducah, KY. No African Americans had been selected for the jury, nor in the past had there ever been an African American on a petit jury or grand jury in McCracken County, KY. After Hale's conviction and death sentence, the NAACP took the case to the Kentucky Court of Appeals and the judgment was confirmed. The NAACP next took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court with Charles H. Houston and Leon A. Ransom for the petitioner, and Mr. A. E. Funk for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. April 11, 1938, the U.S. Supreme Court decision was to overturn Joe Hale's conviction because his civil rights had been violated when the lower court excluded African Americans from the grand jury. Joe Hale was retried April 25, 1939 and convicted of a lesser crime for which he received a life sentence. For more see Hale v. Kentucky, 303 U.S. 613 (1938) (case summary online at FindLaw); see "Chapter 14. Bending the Color Line" in Paducah: Frontier to the Atomic Age by J. E. L. Robertson.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about McCracken County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Paducah, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

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NKAA Source: Paducah: frontier to the atomic age

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“Hale v. Commonwealth of Kentucky (case),” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed April 19, 2024,

Last modified: 2017-09-29 23:40:10