Sue K. Hicks Scopes Trial Attorney Dies

Sue K. Hicks Scopes Trial Attorney Dies

Judge Sue K. Hicks, the attorney who assisted William Jennings Bryan in the 1925 Scopes “monkey trial” and whose given name was celebrated in a song, died on June 17, 1980, in a convalescent home.

He was a young assistant Rhea County attorney during the landmark trial of substitute biology teacher John Thomas Scopes who was charged with violation of a Tennessee law prohibiting the teaching in public schools of non-biblical theories of man’s creation. Scopes was defended by attorney Clarence Darrow in a trial attracting national attention.


“Our motive right from the start was to test the anti-evolution law”, Hicks said in a 1975 interview.  We wanted to get a conviction and we wanted it appealed so that the Supreme Court could rule on its constitutionality.

Scopes was convicted and fined $100, although the Tennessee Supreme Court overturned the penalty on a technicality, preventing an appeal to federal courts.

Named for his mother, Hicks was the inspiration for the hit recording by singer Johnny Cash, “A boy named Sue”. Hicks was proud of his unusual first name.  The youngest of nine children, he was named Sue after his mother died at his birth.

Hicks was City Recorder/Judge in Dayton from 1930-1935. After 22 years as a Criminal Court Judge, he retired in 1958. He was survived at the time of his death by his wife Reba Sue Hicks of Madisonville, Tennessee. He was also the brother of C. Wesley Hicks who was the principal at Dayton City School for many years.

Hicks was buried in the Haven Hills Memorial Gardens in Madisonville, Tennessee.


Sue Hicks

Copyright All Rights Reserved -Yesterday In Dayton




Published byDean

Born and raised in Dayton Tennessee, I have served in various public service positions in the past. I have a great interest in the History of our town. This site is a way for me to share some of the great history of the area.

error: Content is protected !!