REMARKABLY SUCCESSFUL DEFENSE LAWYERS.

REMARKABLY SUCCESSFUL DEFENSE LAWYERS. Bill James describes some of past giants of the defense bar and points out that criminal trials were a lot more rough and tumble in the old days. He believes, as did Earl Rogers, Darrow’s defense lawyer, that Clarence Darrow was guilty of bribing a juror. He also recounts the career of Morman Pruiett, a lawyer active in Oklahoma in the early part of the 20th century, who was estimated to have tried 342 murder cases and to have obtained 304 acquittals with only one murder conviction. James says that Pruiett suborned perjury and arranged for witnesses to be kidnapped (James calls this a common practice with prosecutors doing it more than defense lawyers.) James asks how a defense lawyer like Pruiett could compile a record that would seem incredible today. He gives several reasons. One is that bar associations, beginning in about 1915, cracked down on the kind of shenanigans that helped Pruiett in a number of his cases. But James points out that there were other defense lawyers with remarkable track records who have never been shown to use improper methods: Earl Rogers went 74 and 3 in his murder cases; Samuel Leibowitz had dozens of murder cases and never lost. James attributes the lack of this kind of success for today’s defense lawyers to the greater professionalization of the police and to the increase in plea bargaining so that a smaller percentage of murder cases go to trial.

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