Arc of Justice

Arc of Justice

by

Kevin Boyle

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Arc of Justice can help.
Robert Toms is the Wayne County Prosecutor at the time of the shooting of Leon Breiner. His family were abolitionists prior to the American Civil War, and he approaches his job with moral uprightness, judging his office’s performance on how well they serve the cause of justice rather than how many cases they win. But, with a shining political career ahead of him, he feels the need to prosecute the men who defended the Sweets’ house, lest he fall afoul of the white vote in the city. His assistants in the case are Ted Kennedy and Lester Moll. A few years after the Sweet trials, Toms becomes a judge and in this capacity, he proves himself a staunch supporter of civil rights. He joins the Detroit NAACP branch and is later named the lead prosecutor of Nazi war criminals in the Nuremberg Trials after the end of World War II.

Robert Toms Quotes in Arc of Justice

The Arc of Justice quotes below are all either spoken by Robert Toms or refer to Robert Toms. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
).
Chapter 9 Quotes

When the proceedings resumed at half past nine on Thursday, November 5, the courtroom had been transformed into a tableau of American justice. On a simple bench along one wall sat the eleven defendants, Ossian and Gladys side by side on the far end, exchanging occasional whispers but otherwise watching events with grim-faced concentration. Against the opposite wall sat twelve of their peers—in name if not in fact—arranged in two neat rows of chairs set behind a low railing. Between the two groups in the well of the courtroom stood the representative of the people, the accuser facing the accused as the finest of Anglo-Saxon traditions required, a handsome young white man come to say why eleven Negroes should spend the rest of their lives in prison paying for their crimes.

Page Number: 267
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Arc of Justice LitChart as a printable PDF.
Arc of Justice PDF

Robert Toms Character Timeline in Arc of Justice

The timeline below shows where the character Robert Toms appears in Arc of Justice. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 6: The Letter of Your Law
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Self-Defense, Race, and Ownership Theme Icon
...Ossian for the first interview with Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Ted Kennedy. Kennedy’s boss, Robert Toms, dispatched him to conduct the interviews to ensure that the police’s often inappropriate use of... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
These accounts help to explain why County Prosecutor Robert Toms feels it necessary to bring Ossian, Gladys, and their companions to trial. He is a... (full context)
Chapter 8: The Prodigal Son
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
...pool meant to ensure scrupulous fairness—takes up much of the first day. When prosecutor Robert Toms and his associate Ted Kennedy finally turn over their 12 candidates for defense examination, Darrow... (full context)
Chapter 9: Prejudice
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Progress and Social Change Theme Icon
Jury selection drags into the first week of November, as Darrow and Toms jockey their preferred jurors into position. But by Wednesday afternoon, the jury’s composition satisfies both... (full context)
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Prosecutor Robert Toms feels confident in his case, despite squaring off against the famous Darrow. He plans to... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Then Prosecutor Toms calls his first witness, Norton Schuknecht. Schuknecht cuts a fine figure in his dress uniform.... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Hays interrupts the momentum of Toms’ presentation with technical legal objections, while Darrow cross-examines his witnesses. Darrow focuses his efforts on... (full context)
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
...stumble, however, critically threaten the prosecution’s case. One admits to modifying his words to please Toms; another describes the Waterworks Association’s midsummer rally at the schoolhouse, with its crowd of 600... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Progress and Social Change Theme Icon
On the morning of November 14th, Toms rests the prosecution’s case. White believes that the Darrow has already shattered the state’s case... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
Progress and Social Change Theme Icon
...story, from the horror of Fred Rochelle’s lynching through his recent sojourn in Europe. When Toms objects that this line of questioning is irrelevant to the case, Darrow counters that justice... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
In the final four days of the trial, Ossian fends off Toms’ aggressive cross-examination. Hays fails to prevent Henry’s admission on the night of the shooting to... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Progress and Social Change Theme Icon
With the court’s Thanksgiving break looming, Toms keeps his closing argument brief, trying to pull the jury’s attention back to luckless victim... (full context)
Chapter 10: Judgement Day
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Progress and Social Change Theme Icon
Ossian and Gladys wait, too; Robert Toms has another big case to try, and the court’s packed schedule pushes the retrials into... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Henry Sweet’s slightly delayed second trial begins on Monday April 19th. Prosecutor Toms has recently announced that he will drop the charges against the rest of the defendants... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Self-Defense, Race, and Ownership Theme Icon
Opening arguments begin on the Monday morning of the next week. Toms’s opening statement outlines his plan to build up a circumstantial case against Henry. If Toms... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
For a week and a half, Toms carefully builds his case with each witness, only to have Chawke and Darrow dismantle it... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
By the time Toms rests his case on May 4, the defense has already shown that prejudice has a... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Progress and Social Change Theme Icon
The following day, Robert Toms makes a closing argument nearly as long as Darrow’s, which tries yet again to pull... (full context)
Epilogue: Requiescam
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Progress and Social Change Theme Icon
...Josephine Gomon transforms Detroit’s struggling welfare system into a “model of well-managed generosity,” and Robert Toms’ career becomes so deeply involved in pursuing equal rights that he’s called on prosecute Nazi... (full context)