Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Defense of Dr. Ossian Sweet by Clarence Darrow

The Verdict

But was it enough? Had Darrow swayed the jury?

The jury began its deliberations on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, with Judge Murphy hopeful that a verdict could be reached that day, so all participants would be free to enjoy the holiday. It was a vain hope.

Hour after hour passed. Several times, the jury asked for the Judge's guidance on matters of law. There was the question of the level of the crime. The jury asked: Could they render a verdict of manslaughter? Judge Murphy said that they could.

Guards and others within the proximity of the jury room could hear shouting, and it became apparent to those eavesdroppers that the jury was divided. Hays wondered if the stone-faced juror that he had observed during the trial was a holdout. As Darrow, Hays, and Walter White had dinner, they nervously discussed the case. What could they have done differently? Had they been convincing that this was a case of self-defense? The night drew on.

The afternoon and evening ended with no decision. The jury was housed in the dormitory in the court house.

The next morning, Thanksgiving Day, the jury returned to its jury room, and once more loud voices could be heard through the frosted glass door.

After 27 hours, the foreman reported to the Judge. They could not reach a decision. It was a hung jury. Darrow and Hays had not won, but they had been convincing enough to create a panel of jurors that could not reach agreement.

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