LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. - For those who knew Judge James E. Horton, Jr. the best, they would say he was a man who truly understood the law. He also knew what justice meant. "He never saw color, he never saw religion, never saw anything except doing the right thing at the right time," Retired Limestone County Circuit Judge James Woodroof said.
In 1933, he made a very strong and controversial decision at the Limestone County Courthouse. He set aside the verdict and death sentence handed down by an all-white jury to Haywood Patterson.
Patterson was an African American found guilty of raping two white women. Judge Horton ruled the evidence was insufficient.
Patterson was one of the nine black youths falsely accused of rape in1931. They were known as the "Scottsboro Boys." Horton's decision made many people upset. His life was threatened and it ended his public career.
"In my mind and heart he exemplifies justice and what a true judge should be about," Woodroof said.
Horton finished the remainder of his life farming and raising cattle. But to honor his actions all those years ago, the statue of Judge Horton will forever stand in front of the Limestone County Courthouse and serve as a reminder to all who walk past.
"As long as they can look at that statue and understand that when they go through those doors; justice is going to prevail then we are doing our job," Woodroof said.