The Leopold and Loeb Trial: A Brief Account

6 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2007

See all articles by Douglas Linder

Douglas Linder

University of Missouri at Kansas City - School of Law

Date Written: 2007

Abstract

Few trial transcripts are as likely to bring tears to the eyes as that of the 1924 murder trial of Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopold. Decades after Clarence Darrow delivered his twelve-hour long plea to save his young clients' lives, his moving summation stands as the most eloquent attack on the death penalty ever delivered in an American courtroom. Mixing poetry and prose, science and emotion, a world-weary cynicism and a dedication to his cause, hatred of bloodlust and love of man, Darrow takes his audience on an oratorical ride that would be unimaginable in a criminal trial today. Even without Darrow in his prime, the Leopold and Loeb trial has the elements to justify its billing as the first trial of the century. It is not surprising that the public responded to a trial that involved the kidnapping and murder of a fourteen-year old boy from one of Chicago's most prominent families, a bizarre relationship between two promising scholars-turned-murderers, what the prosecutor called an act of Providence leading to the apprehension of the teenage defendants, dueling psychiatrists, and an experienced and sharp-tongued state's attorney bent on hanging the confessed killers in spite of their relative youth.

Keywords: Famous Trials, Trial, Leopold, Loeb, Clarence Darrow, Death penalty, Trial of the century, Kidnapping, Murder, Chicago, Friedrich Nietzsche, Superman, Bobby Franks

JEL Classification: K10, K40, K41, K42

Suggested Citation

Linder, Douglas, The Leopold and Loeb Trial: A Brief Account (2007). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1024295 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1024295

Douglas Linder (Contact Author)

University of Missouri at Kansas City - School of Law ( email )

5100 Rockhill Road
Kansas City, MO 64110-2499
United States

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