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State v. Tally

Supreme Court of Alabama
15 So. 722 (Ala. 1894)



R.C. Ross seduced and was “criminally intimate” with the sister of the Skeltons and of Mrs. Tally. Subsequently, it was well known in the town that the Skeltons were in pursuit of Ross to exact revenge. Early one morning, Ross fled town for Stevenson, Alabama with the Skeltons in pursuit on horseback. Although knowing that the Skeltons wanted revenge, Ross did not know that the Skeltons had followed him that particular morning. Later that morning, Judge John Tally, Mrs. Tally’s husband, having seen the Skeltons leave that morning heavily armed, went to the telegraph office. A witness saw him there and, knowing that the Skeltons were in pursuit of Ross, told Tally that someone should send a telegram to have all of the parties arrested. Tally ignored this statement, but said that he was waiting in the office to see if anybody was going to send such a telegram. Soon after, a relative of Ross came into the telegraph office and sent a telegram to Stevenson for Ross, warning that four men on horseback with guns were chasing him down. In response to this, Tally sent a telegram to Huddleston, the operator in Stevenson, saying “Do not let the party warned get away.” He also added, “Say nothing.” When Ross arrived in Stevenson, Huddleston had an opportunity to give Ross the telegram from his relative before he got out of his carriage, but Huddleston chose not to do so, allegedly because he had received the subsequent telegram from Tally. When Ross got out of the carriage, he was shot at from a distance by three of the Skeltons. He then escaped to behind a building where he was ambushed by the fourth Skelton and killed. The state attorney general brought a judicial impeachment proceeding before the Alabama Supreme Court accusing Judge Tally of aiding and abetting in Ross's murder.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (McClellan, J.)

Dissent (Head, J.)

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