n October 1944, the appellate justices voted unanimously to overturn
the verdicts and set aside the sentences. The twelve were released,
having spent almost two years in jail and prison. Alice McGrath's
recollection of those events ("3-page 'recollection'; 1-page chronolgy,"
Alice McGrath Papers) follows:
Ben Margolis was in charge of the appeal. The 579-page appellate
brief was prepared under his supervision. He made the oral argument
before the Second District Court of Appeal.
The brief cited misconduct by the trial judge, denial of the legal
rights of the appellants, the inclusion of masses of inadmissible
evidence, failure to prove that a conspiracy existed and other
grounds for reversal.
The Court unanimously reversed the convictions and set aside the
sentences. The three appellate justices concluded that, ".it is
impossible to ascertain with the slightest degree of certainty
what occurred during the incident in this case." (66Cal Ap 166)
In October of 1944 the twelve were released after having spent
more than two years in jail and prison.
Alice Greenfield McGrath.
3-page 'recollections'; 1-page chronology.
Alice Greenfield McGrath Papers.
Carey McWilliams also noted:
Then Ben Margolis and his firm came into the case, and they took
this appeal.It was a first-rate argument, quite conclusive, quite
interesting; and they, of course, unanimously reversed the conviction.
Not only did they reverse it; they gave Judge Fricke quite a working
over for obvious bias and prejudicial rulings and outrageous comments
about the defendants, and all the rest of it. So it was a terrific
victory for the defendants and for the community . it was the
first major victory in the courts of this kind that the Mexican-American
community had ever won.
Honorable in all things oral history transcript: the memoirs
of Carey McWilliams. UCLA oral history, 1978.
Letter, page 1, from Alice Greenfield to Guy Endore
Letter, page 2, from Alice Greenfield to Guy Endore
Letter, page 3, from Alice Greenfield to Guy Endore
Defendants on the day of their release, greeted by family and friends
Defendants, family and friends with attorney Ben Margolis
Defendant Bobby Telles congratulated by family
Sleepy Lagoon defendants leaving Hall of Justice, October 24, 1944
Letter, page 1, from Henry Leyvas to Guy Endore, July 23, 1944
Letter, page 2, from Henry Leyvas to Guy Endore, July 23, 1944
Flyer announcing "Sleepy Lagoon Defense Committee to be abolished . "