Clarence Darrow's Guilty Trial

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Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb stand guilty of the motiveless and random murder of fourteen year-old Bobby Franks in August of 1924. Intellectual and wealthy, the criminals stand to gain nothing from the senseless slaughter, yet commit the act nonetheless. Neither boy denies the killing, as their defense attorney Clarence Darrow pleads guilty on their behalf. Yet despite guilt, the trial continues, as Darrow fights the proposal of capital punishment for the two boys. Throughout his entire career, not one of Darrow’s clients ever receives the death penalty (Safire 370). Darrow’s tendency to defend the admitted guilty, often pro bono, permits for an interesting form of speech to come to light, as his pleas bear a sense of nobility for they …show more content…
Looking to the days to come, Darrow crafts his plea in the name of the descendants of all present in that Chicago courtroom. Purporting his plea as not intended to benefit the guilty, but instead the jury, Darrow convinces the jury that to spare the boys their lives would be to preserve the well-being of the entire community, effectively appealing to the jury’s personal self-interests. Darrow logically reinterprets any harms to the future generations to exist solely as a direct causation resulting from the execution of Leopold and Loeb, leaving the jury no choice save for mercy. Darrow begins by establishing a common ground between both the defense and the jury through citing The State’s intended purpose of a trial. For the purposes of the trial, Darrow establishes the jury must decide based upon what is best for, “the welfare of the community” (Darrow). In doing so, Darrow lays groundwork on which to build his case, for if he proves that sparing Leopold and Loeb benefits the community, then the jury bears no option but to decline the death penalty. Darrow amplifies the …show more content…
Darrow reinforces his ethos as one of many participants in the war that causes Leopold and Loeb’s insanity, altering their madness from a one-off, unique case, to one caused by a nation-wide bandwagon calling for violence. Beginning by establishing his role in the Civil War, Darrow discusses how he serves as yet another “old man… [who] believed” in the war (Darrow). By establishing the “belief” that he too takes part in, Darrow begins this transfer of guilt from the murderers, to the whole of society, beginning with himself. Darrow’s reinforces his ethos by his acknowledgement that he too took part in the war, for if such a revered and renowned attorney took part in the bloodshed, then so too may the masses, opening the jury to be susceptible to his claim that the entire nation cries for blood. Following the establishment of a personal role in this war-mongering, Darrow begins repetition of the word, “we”, as he associates the entire jury with the blood-lust shared throughout the war (Darrow). Darrow associates the entire crowd with himself and the guilty as he prepares to lay further guilt on the defense - a guilt now shared by the jury. Discussing the young boys, Darrow looks to their upbringing as the entire community “trained

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