Seeing issues from different view points

Trial lawyers have to learn how to look at the same issue from different perspectives. Seeing how an issue that appears to be against your client’s interests can be viewed in another way or how to deal with a critical issue is an important part of being a trial lawyer. When Clarence Darrow was charged in Los Angeles with conspiracy to bribe jurors in the LA Times bombing case against the McNamara brothers, a key prosecution fact was that Darrow was in the area when the contact with the juror was made. Darrow’schief investigator was talking to the juror when Darrow came running down the street towards them. The prosecutor’s position was that Darrow was in on it and was there monitoring the attempted bribe. But, Darrow claimed he knew nothing about any bribery but, had received a phone call that the police knew his investigator was attempting to bribe a juror and he was there to stop the attempted bribery. Rogers decided that the more he could show how obvious Darrow was coming onto the scene, the less likely it was he was guilty. In other words, a guilty man, knowing the police were watching, wouldn’t be going there at all and if he did. he would try to conceal himself. So Rogers turned Darrow’s presence at the scene of the attempted bribery around and made it his point. Lockwood was the juror who had reported the attempted bribery to the police and was meeting with Darrow’s investigator on a street corner at the time. Here was the key part of Roger’s cross examination. Note how Rogers signaled the jury that the issue was important by how he prefaced the question and the recreation with the hat as well as the anchoring by Rogers that this was a critical piece of testimony by his going over to Darrow after the testimony.

Q. Mr. Lockwood, I want to ask you a very important question. Will you take time and be sure before you answer?

A. Yes, I’ll be sure

Q. Was Darrow waving his hat as he came across the street?

A. Yes – he was

Q. Waving it like this? (Rogers picked up a hat that was on his counsel table and demonstrated)

A. Yes

At That Rogers walked behind counsel table and put his hand on Darrow’s shoulder and smiled at Darrow.

Darrow gave what was regarded as a masterful closing argument in his own defense. One that lasted over a day. It’s reported that not only were jurors crying, the judge was crying during his summation of his defense. The jury was out only twenty seven minutes. Enough time to elect a foreman and take one ballot. A unanimous not guilty followed.

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