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 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.
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.
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