Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Leopold & Loeb

Darrow States his Case

At the end of that period, Darrow began to state his argument in the style and substance that made him one of the greatest lawyers ever: "Now, I understand that when everything has been said in this case from beginning to end, the position of the state's attorney is that the universe will crumble unless these boys are hanged. I must say that I have never before seen the same passion and enthusiasm for the death penalty as I have in this case, and there have been thousands of killings before this, much more horrible in details...There have been thousands before, and there will probably be thousands again, whether these boys are hanged or go to prison. If I thought that hanging them would prevent any future murders, I would probably be in favor of doing it. But I have no such feeling....

"What is a mitigating circumstance? Is it youth? If so, why? Simply because the child has not the judgment of life that a grown person has...

"Here are two boys who are minors. The law would forbid them making contracts, forbid them marrying without the consent of their parents, would not permit them to vote. Why? Because they haven't the judgment which only comes with years, because they are not fully responsible...

"I cannot understand the glib, lighthearted carelessness of lawyers who talk of hanging two boys as if they were talking of a holiday or visiting the races..."

Darrow then looked at Judge Caverly and his voice hushed in respect, "I don't believe there is a judge in Cook County that would not take into consideration the mental status of any man before they sentence him to death."

Finally, Caverly agreed to hear evidence in mitigation. Darrow had won a key victory. The defense alienists could now be called to testify and the already well-known report of Doctors Hulbert and Bowman could be put into the court record.

Some of the information and analysis was part of the trial testimony, but all of it was part of the trial record, and was thoroughly read by Judge Caverly, whose opinion on the psychiatric findings was the only one that counted. In total, the alienists' reports give valuable insight into the family lives and social environment in which these two boys lived. They also provided an appreciation of the boys' values and morals, which were at odds with those of their families and friends.