ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) -- Hidden papers holding dark secrets from Georgia's past could face the light of day in October, 2019.
The papers reveal grand jury testimony from the murderous Moore's Ford Lynching. Long lost testimony the US Justice Department fought to keep secret, until this summer.
That 1946 lynching horrifies every new generation, when we learn no one has ever been held accountable.
Today though the US Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals is ordering an en banc hearing involving the entire bench of the 11th Circuit court of Appeals, seated here in Atlanta.
The sorry story of four African Americans murdered by a mob at the ford on the Apalachee River near Athens so horrified President Harry Truman he ordered a federal investigation; 106 people testified, in secret, to a grand jury, over 16 days.
Grand Jury testimony, federal and state, is always secret. Those sealed transcripts were long thought not only sealed but lost.
Historian Anthony Pitch found them, in a box in the National Archives. He and attorney Joseph Bell pushed the US Justice Department to break the seal of secrecy and reveal what the witnesses said.
In Macon, Georgia, Federal District Judge Marc Treadwell agreed.
The Justice Department appealed.
In February, 2019 a 3 judge panel agreed with Judge Treadwell, voting two to one to reveal the testimony, saying:
"Exceptional circumstances exist when the need for disclosure outweighs the public interest in continued secrecy."
This time, the US Justice Department did not object. But one of the 11th Circuit judges did. In June, 2019 the court said all twelve judges would hear arguments sitting en banc to decide if the secrecy of the grand jury outweighs the public interest in evidence given 73 years ago by witnesses almost certainly dead.
That hearing is now set for October 22, six weeks from now. That outcome could determine if the world will ever hear from witnesses to the 73 year old quadruple murder.