Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury: Greatest Closing Arguments in Modern Law

Michael S. Lief, Author, H. Mitchell Caldwell, Joint Author, Benjamin Bycel, Joint Author Scribner Book Company $27.5 (400p) ISBN 978-0-684-83661-4
In a country where celebrity lawyers are worshipped like divas, it's surprising that until now no one has collected their most glorious arias--the closing arguments of front-page cases. Here Lief (a deputy DA in Ventura, Calif.), Caldwell (a professor of law at Pepperdine University) and Bycel (dean of UWLA School of Law) have assembled the ""ten greatest arguments"" delivered by American advocates in civil and criminal trials in the last century. Included are some obvious choices: Clarence Darrow's impassioned plea to spare Leopold and Loeb from the gallows; Robert Jackson's magisterial condemnation of Hitler's henchmen at Nuremberg; Gerry Spence's folksy attack on the Kerr-McGee nuclear power plant on behalf of Karen Silkwood; Vincent Bugliosi's methodical devastation of the Manson family. Readers will enjoy second-guessing the editors: Is Donald Re's close in the DeLorean trial ""greater"" in advocating on behalf of a notorious client than Johnnie Cochran's (overlooked here, as is Daniel Petrocelli)? Is William Kunstler's argument in the Chicago 7 trial ""great"" or is it merely a famous lawyer's last word in a famous case? Does the snippet of Clara Shortridge Foltz's argument presented here, in which she wittily exposes the opposing counsel's sexism, outrank the close of, say, Thurgood Marshall in Brown v. Board of Education? Unfortunately, the editors' brief commentaries shed little light on why these particular arguments make their top-10 list. They virtually ignore opposing counsel's arguments, except in the case of My Lai Lieut. William Calley Jr. Repeatedly, they praise the top-10 closures for focusing the evidence and talking ""horizontally"" to the jury, but surely there's magic unaccounted for. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1998
Release date: 06/01/1998
Ebook - 400 pages - 978-0-684-86752-6
Paperback - 400 pages - 978-0-684-85948-4
Ebook - 416 pages - 978-1-4711-0854-9
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