Thomas J. Carey, Jr.

The Sacco and Vanzetti Case: An Enduring Lesson

The trial of Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti for the murder of two men during a payroll robbery on the afternoon of April 15, 1920, in Braintree, Massachusetts, was one of the most widely publicized cases in Massachusetts history. Indeed, it became an international sensation. Despite widespread belief that the trial had been unfair, Massachusetts executed Sacco and Vanzetti on August 23, 1927.

The Sacco and Vanzetti case has long been considered a blot on the reputation of our judicial system. The John Adams Courthouse, home of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, has an exhibit off its Great Hall devoted to the lack of a fair trial in the case and designed to show the “importance of our striving always to be, in the enduring and inspiring words of the Massachusetts Constitution, ‘a government of laws and not of men.’”

[Recorded August 12, 2023]

Thomas J. Carey, Jr., JD, LLM, is a member of the Massachusetts Bar, a former prosecutor, and an active private practitioner who frequently handles appellate matters. He has been on the law school faculties of Suffolk Law School and Boston College Law School and frequently lectures at Bar Association programs. A longtime resident of Hingham, he is a member of the Hingham Historical Society and has had a lifelong interest in History.

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