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School of Law presents one-man show chronicling courtroom eloquence and style of attorney Clarence Darrow

Loyola announcement - December 16, 2002

The School of Law at Loyola University New Orleans presents a one-man show featuring the legal brilliance and chaotic life of attorney-at-law Clarence Darrow. “Crimes, Causes, and the Courtroom,” starring veteran actor Graham Thatcher, offers a spellbinding and realistic character portrait of Darrow, arguably the greatest trail lawyer of the 20th century.

The performance will be held Thursday, January 16, 2003, at 6:15 p.m. in Nunemaker Auditorium. The $50 admission includes 3.0 CLE hours, including 1.0 for professionalism and 1.0 for ethics. General admission is $25 and $10 for Loyola faculty, staff, and students. Sponsors include Loyola’s Institute for Continuing Legal Education (CLE) and University Ministry. A panel presentation and audience discussion will follow the play. Loyola Professor of Law Dane Ciolino will moderate and attorneys John R. Martzell and Michael Fawer will serve as panel members. Contact Loyola’s CLE Office at 861-5441 or visit www.law.loyno.edu/cle.

Darrow was often called the “Attorney for the Damned” because he fought for the underdog and took on cases thought to be hopeless. While demanding respect for his zealous advocacy, Darrow was often embroiled in bitter controversy for his unpopular stances on many issues and purported unethical professional behavior. This solo performance is replete with humor, humanity, and intense courtroom drama. It engages the audience in four of the lawyer’s famous cases from 1910 and 1928. Using Darrow's own thoughts and courtroom summations, the show explores timeless social, legal, and ethical issues.

The four famous cases explored are: the Loeb and Leopold Case in which Darrow saved two teenage killers from hanging; McNamara Bombing Case in which he represented two brothers accused of bombing the Los Angeles Time Building that resulted in 25 deaths. In relationship to this case, Darrow was charged and tried twice for jury tampering. He was acquitted in the first trial and the second jury was hung. The third case was the Scopes Monkey Case in which Darrow argued for freedom from religious suppression in the classroom; and the Sweet Case that focused on the family of Henry Sweet, a black doctor who lived in an all-while neighborhood in Detroit in 1926. A mob of whites tossed stones and shouted racial epithets at the family. Someone opened fire and a white man was killed. Eleven members of the Sweet family were arrested for murder with Henry’s younger brother, Ossian, tried for the crime. Darrow represented Ossian.

About Clarence Darrow

Clarence Seward Darrow was born in the small town of Kinsman, Ohio, in 1857. The strongest influence in his childhood was his parent’s collection of books and from it Darrow gained a lifetime passion for reading and ideas. After one year of law school, he dropped out, deciding that an apprenticeship was more to his liking and learning. In 1879, he set up his own practice 10 miles from Kinsman, in the small town of Andover. Nine years later he moved his family (a wife and son) to Chicago. He worked for two years in Chicago’s the legal department and four years as Chicago’s general attorney for Chicago and the Northwestern Railway Company.

Darrow was a criminal defense attorney whose career spanned almost 60 years. He engaged in arguments about the great issues of his day, i.e. capital punishment, freedom of expression, civil and human rights. He fought the injustices created by racism and the excesses of greed in a capitalist society, and argued to protect the weak and disenfranchised from the rich and powerfully enfranchised. Darrow died in 1938, but his spirit is present in contemporary cause and defense lawyers who have modeled their lives on his passionate advocacy for the underdog and his powerful courtroom style.