Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Defense of Dr. Ossian Sweet by Clarence Darrow

Clarence Darrow's Style

It is difficult, in this era of television coverage of celebrity lawyers, to imagine Clarence Darrow in action in a courtroom. Accounts of his performances in his famous trials are vivid, but visualizing his performance cannot be easily done. There is no question that he had a way with juries. He would gain their confidence by establishing a rapport with them that was truly unusual. He would cross examine witnesses with a combination of engaging them in conversation, disarming them, and displaying bursts of combativeness that would damage their credibility.

Of course, there were his summations. In this trial, as in others, Darrow had the power to reduce jurors, spectators, and even the judge to tears.

And then there was Arthur Garfield Hays, a consummate legal expert, having at his command precedents and judgments from virtually every relevant case in American jurisprudence. Together, they were a formidable team.

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