Leopold and Loeb - LET THEM LIVE!

After psychologists (called “alienists” in 1924) testified at Leopold and Loeb’s sentencing hearing, the Chicago Tribune published a cartoon mocking the testimony. Click on the image for a better view. Keep in mind that the words are from 1924 (when people, including cartoonists and press reporters, used descriptions we would not use today).


In one of the most famous final arguments in American legal history, Clarence Darrow called upon the judge, John R. Caverly, to show mercy. A passionate lawyer who could hold juries spellbound, Darrow spoke during a twelve-hour hearing.

He pleaded for life, even though he acknowledged that his clients had committed heinous deeds. He used psychiatrists (called "alienists" at the time) during the short trial (really an evidentiary hearing) to convince the Judge the boys were worth saving.

Darrow argued that Nathan and Richard were "too young to hang." He reminded Judge Caverly that "if these boys are to hang, you must do it." He pleaded with the court that if the sentences were death, it would not "help the children" who heard about the punishment.

Yet ... he acknowledged that his clients were "not fit to be at large."

As a large crowd gathered outside the court house, Darrow gave an argument causing tears to stream down nearly every face (including the Judge's). And it was that passionate, pleading, pathos-filled argument which convinced Judge Caverly to show mercy.

He gave both Leopold and Loeb life sentences for the murder of Bobby Franks.  And ... he gave them each an additional "99 years" for Bobby's kidnapping.

Once again, Darrow had won an unwinnable battle. He gave his young clients a chance at rehabilitation. 

At the time of sentencing, Darrow was able to achieve in court what he firmly believed in conscience—that everyone deserves a second chance.

Unbelievably ... his clients would live.

0 Question or Comment?
click to read or comment
2 Questions 2 Ponder
click to read and respond
0 It's Awesome!
vote for your favorite

Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5189stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 01, 1999

Updated Last Revision: Jul 04, 2019

To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"LET THEM LIVE!" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 01, 1999. Dec 14, 2019.
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Show tooltips