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Three Judges and a Defense Attorney to Help Re-Enact "The Trial of Our Century: The People v. Clarence Darrow" at Santa Clara University School of Law, Sept. 10

Monday, Aug. 22, 2011

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Aug. 22, 1011—Step back in time 100 years, to witness the jury-tampering trial that changed the course of famed trial attorney Clarence Darrow’s life forever: 1912’s The People v. Clarence Darrow.  

This trial will be re-enacted Saturday, Sept. 10 at Santa Clara University’s Mayer Theatre, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95053, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., including a lunch intermission. Information about registration is at Media may attend for free, but are asked to register.

SCU’s re-enactment will feature current-day stars of the legal world, including 9th Circuit Court chief judge Alex Kozinski; attorney and law professor Michael Tigar, defender of Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols; federal judge Charles Breyer; and 9th Circuit Court appellate judge Stephen Trott.

Part Johnnie Cochrane, part William Kunstler, Clarence Darrow was arguably the most famous lawyer and orator for labor, civil rights, and progressive causes in history.

But his noble career was interrupted by accusations that he attempted to bribe a juror while defending union members who firebombed the Los Angeles Times building. Santa Clara University School of Law is hosting the re-enactment of Darrow’s jury-tampering trial, which laid bare the bitter labor-relations environment of the times, and raised myriad legal-ethics questions.

“Clarence Darrow’s brilliance as a lawyer inspired many of our finest professors and jurists to go to law school,” said Gerald Uelmen, the Santa Clara University law professor who organized the re-enactment. “The fact that his trial occurred almost-precisely 100 years ago is great cause for reflection on the many positive values that drove him.”

Darrow began his early career as a highly successful labor attorney, at a time when tensions between unions and capitalist owners were at their peak. He defended Eugene Debs against charges of stoking the Pullman train-worker strikes, and went on to win scores of subsequent trials. But his avid defense tactics led him to be tried for jury tampering—charges that did not stick but ultimately led to his being run out of California. Darrow moved to Chicago, where he later became a highly sought-after criminal and civil rights lawyer.

His strategy and argument against the death penalty for teen thrill-killers Leopold and Loeb transfixed the entire country in 1924. His defense of the teaching of evolution in the famous Scopes trial the following year caused even his opponents to concede his brilliance. He bravely defended the African-American Sweet family, a professional couple who were nearly lynched for moving into a white neighborhood in Detroit.

The event is part of the law school’s Centennial Weekend Celebration, which will also feature a black-tie gala, reception, and brunch.

The re-enactment will include an all-star ensemble, dressed in some period attire and free to cast their own spin on the trial’s key moments.

* Tigar will play Darrow’s defense attorney Earl Rogers, the brilliant (albeit alcoholic) litigator, notorious for successfully defending more than 70 accused murderers. Rogers, who had bitter disputes over legal strategy with Darrow, was known as the inspiration for the theatrics-prone Perry Mason TV character.

* Trott will portray the prosecutor in the case, the ambitious gubernatorial aspirant John D. Fredericks.

* The role of the facilitator of Darrow’s alleged jury tampering—his defense investigator Bert Franklin —will be played by the dean of Santa Clara Law, Donald Polden.

*Fresh off his acclaimed portrayal of Earl Rogers last year before the Association of Business Trial Lawers, Breyer will play the brilliant and deceptively disheveled Darrow, on whom the trial took a tremendous toll.

* The judge in the case, George Hutton, will be played by Kozinski.

* The allegedly bribed juror, George Lockwood, will be played by Santa Clara University law professor Robert Peterson.

When: Saturday, Sept. 10, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Act One:  Prosecution 10 a.m. to noon
Act Two:  Defense 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: SCU Recital Hall

Cost:  Trial is FREE

About Santa Clara University School of Law
During this academic year, Santa Clara University School of Law is celebrating its first 100 years of educating lawyers who lead. Founded in 1911 on the site of California’s oldest operating higher-education institution, Santa Clara Law is dedicated to educating lawyers who lead, with a commitment to excellence, ethics, and social justice. One of the nation’s most diverse law schools, Santa Clara Law offers its 975 students an academically rigorous program, including graduate degrees in international law and intellectual property law; a combined J.D./MBA degree; a combined J.D./MSIS degree; and certificates in high technology law, international law, and public interest and social justice law. Santa Clara Law is located in the world-class business center of Silicon Valley, and is distinguished nationally for its top-ranked program in intellectual property. For more information, see

Media Contact:
Deborah Lohse  | SCU Media Relations | | (409) 554-5121

Tags: law school, law-commencement

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