Saturday, July 9, 2011

Everything You Didn’t Know About Clarence Darrow

Click on the following link to for another informative and interesting interview with John Farrell, author of Attorney for the Damned, that was discussed in my July 8th post.

Everything You Didn’t Know About Clarence Darrow

This came to me courtesy of native Idahoan and fellow blogger Tara Rowe. As always, much appreciated Tara. I am happy to know you are still out there and not on total hiatus for the summer.

I sense a new wave of interest, a renaissance of sorts, in regards to Darrow. I have been reading several older books about or by Darrow and look forward to fresh perspectives. Don't tell Justice Byron Johnson or Darrow actor extraordinaire Gary Anderson, but I continue to develop a greater respect and fondness for their hero despite his defense of Haywood and human flaws and regressions. We all need a little redemption later in life and Darrow seemed to have certainly earned his right to it.

Excerpt from the above article:
Interviewer T.A. Frail:
"In Darrow’s day there was open warfare between labor and capital. He stepped into that war in a major way in Idaho in 1907, when he defended Big Bill Haywood and two other unionists charged with murdering a former governor (the name is Frank Steunenberg! jr). You write that, “Of all of Darrow’s courtroom speeches, his summation in the Haywood case was arguably the most brilliant, and dangerous.” In what way brilliant, and in what way dangerous?"

Author John Ferrell:
"It’s brilliant in its eloquence. In those days attorneys and prosecutors could speak for up to 12 hours, or even longer—Darrow, in the Leopold and Loeb case, spoke for three days. The Haywood summation is long, and to the modern ear it tends to wander, but you have to think of him standing in the courtroom and speaking to the jury, and going back and forth over his major themes like a weaver. That speech is amazing, for his ability both to tear apart the prosecution’s case and to draw from the jurors—who were not union men, but were working men—an appreciation for what labor was trying to do."

"It was extraordinarily dangerous because he was using a plea for a client as a soapbox. He made a very political speech, talking in almost socialistic terms about the rights of the working class, and there was a danger that the jury would react against that—as one of his juries later did in Los Angeles. But it was a very small courtroom and the defense table was right up against the jurors; over the course of 90 days he got a very good sense of who they were, talking during breaks, listening to them, watching them as they listened to the testimony. I think it was an informed bet he was willing to make."

(I will add a plug for Darrow at the "first trial of century." You can still pick up a copy of the DVD, catch my 10-seconds of stardom and support public television while you are at it).

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