Clarence Darrow was a lawyer who came to great fame with several “trials of the century” in the early 1900′s. In 1912, he was personally put on trial for jury tampering. If you haven’t read much about this famed lawyer, then go here for the story of that trial.
Previously, he had been retained to represent the McNamara brothers for the bombing of the Los Angeles Times Building. Public opinion overwhelmingly had already determined that both were guilty. So, Darrow admittedly felt that he needed to pick a favorable jury.
According to the evidence at Darrow’s trial, for the McNamara trial, he had hired a private investigator to research the jurors. At his trial, it was determined that money was offered to two of the jurors to influence their decision on the innocence of the brothers; but that Darrow had no knowledge or intent in the act of bribery.
I have condensed much of the story. It reads like a book of law fiction. Darrow’s life, including the Scopes Trial, made Darrow larger than life. Those were the days when the community would come to the local courthouse and watch trials for an activity. Darrow’s closings were usually long. Some timed in excess of 12 hours.
Nowadays, jurors would be telling me to sit down. Of course, Judges usually ask me, if I intend to go longer than 30 minutes. With people so used to having a remote control in their hand, I’ll bet that they would unconsciously raise a hand as though they were changing the channel, if I went much longer than 30 minutes.
I was reminded of Darrow in reading a blog of a lawyer (Don Keenan). He was discussing Darrow’s focus on jury selection. That led me to “The Last Trials of Darrow“ , a book written by Donald McRae that records Darrow’s methods in trial. It includes reference to a lady named Mary Fields Parton, who had a long-term relationship with Darrow.
After Darrow’s passing, it was she who decided to record many events from his trials. She felt that history would otherwise forget him. It was from her diary that McRae based many of the book’s quotes and details. On page 24, McRae recites how Darrow came to determine what jurors he would consider. This was a method, even after the bribery trial.
“Mary Field Parton accompanied by her 6-year-old niece, Kay, would knock on the front door of the juror under Darrow’s furtive investigation and ask if the little girl could use the bathroom. Mary made it look like the sweetest of emergencies, and the juror or his wife could never resist. The door would swing open, her niece would be taken down the passage to the smallest room, while Mary scanned any books, magazines and personal items in the family home. Darrow placed particular emphasis on the juror’s taste in books for he believed that a man’s character and outlook was defined by his choice of reading. He always insisted that Mary should study the shelves for a Bible, which for him represented the sure-fire symbol of a man’s moralistic bent.”
Today, we have advancements from technology to learn about others through what they post on Facebook. Does that really tell us anything? I suppose you can drive by and see if their cars have bumper stickers that would tell you what they might consider important. “Rush is Right” might be an indicator of their ideology, but does that mean that they can be fair as a juror?
The method of using someone to go into their home would certainly be considered tampering. It is relevant to know if a prospective juror has a bias or prejudice. Such knowledge cannot be gained from any kind of personal contact.
Today, pic o’ day is about old fashioned work and just going after it… even if it’s a ball.
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