Independent Publishers Group Logo

Sign up today...
for featured titles, special offers, bestsellers, and more, in your inbox!

Subscribe to receive special offers, monthly books suggestions, seasonal selections, and more!



The Murder Trial That Powered Thurgood Marshall's Fight for Civil Rights


224 Pages, 6 x 9

Formats: Cloth, EPUB, PDF, Mobipocket

Cloth, $26.99 (CA $35.99) (US $26.99)

Publication Date: June 2019

ISBN 9781613738337

Rights: WOR

Chicago Review Press (Jun 2019)
Lawrence Hill Books


eBook Editions Available

Will it work on my eReader?
Price: $26.99


A wrongful conviction story that spotlights Thurgood Marshall’s experiences as a lawyer for the fledgling NAACP before he took on Brown v. Board of Education

On New Year’s Eve, 1939, Elmer Rogers and his wife, Marie, were preparing for bed when a shotgun blast sent buckshot deep into Elmer's rib cage. When Marie ran from the room, screaming for help, a second gunshot erupted. The eldest Rogers child grabbed his baby brother and ran while the middle child clung to the bed frame, paralyzed with terror. The intruders poured coal oil around the house and set fire to the front door before escaping. Within a matter of days, investigators identified several suspects: convicts who had been at a craps game with Rogers the night before. Also at the craps game was a young black farmer named W. D. Lyons. As anger at authorities grew, political pressure mounted to find a villain. The governor's representative settled on Lyons, who was arrested, tortured into signing a confession, and tried for the murder. The NAACP's new Legal Defense and Education Fund sent its young chief counsel, Thurgood Marshall, to take part in the trial. The NAACP desperately needed money, and Marshall was convinced that the Lyons case could be a fundraising boon for both the state and national organizations. It was. The case went on to the US Supreme Court, and the NAACP raised much-needed money from the publicity. Conviction is the story of Lyons v. Oklahoma, the oft-forgotten case that set Marshall and the NAACP on the path that led ultimately to victory in Brown v. Board of Education and the accompanying social revolution in the United States.


“This book deserves a standing ovation. It reveals the compelling story of crusading civil rights attorney Thurgood Marshall—who became the nation’s first black Supreme Court justice—and his defense of a black illiterate sharecropper accused of slaughtering three members of a white family in rural Oklahoma. Authors Denver Nicks and his attorney father, John Nicks, shine a light on unforgivable transgressions as they explain how political pressure, intimidation, coercion, and torture can result in a forced confession and the imprisonment of an innocent man.” —Michael Wallis, bestselling author of Route 66 and The Best Land Under Heaven

“By illuminating Thurgood Marshall’s earlier, leaner years, Conviction adds a much-needed dimension to the life of one of our more misunderstood civil rights heroes. The most pleasant surprise, however, is Denver and John Nicks’s well-rounded and engrossing portrayal of W.D. Lyons, a young man falsely accused of a heinous crime.” —Patrick Parr, author of The Seminarian: Martin Luther King Jr. Comes of Age

Conviction stamps the name of Willie D. Lyons indelibly on the social conscience.” --New York Journal of Books

Author Biography

Denver Nicks is a contributor to Rolling Stone, National Geographic Traveler and a former staff writer for Time magazine. He is the author of the books Private and Hot Sauce Nation. John Nicks is an attorney in Tulsa, Oklahoma, specializing in oil and gas, personal injury and civil rights law.