As part of our law school centennial celebration we have arranged a truly special event. In recreating the atmosphere of 1911, the year the law school was founded, we decided to reenact the trial of Clarence Darrow for bribing jurors in Los Angeles. Darrow was actually put on trial twice, with one acquittal and one hung jury, but the verdict of historians is still divided. We have lined up an all-star cast for the re-enactment. Darrow himself will be portrayed by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer. His defense lawyer will be nationally known law professor and defense attorney Michael Tigar. The prosecutor will be Senior Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit Stephen Trott of Boise, Idaho. Chief Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit Alex Kozinski will preside. The chief witness against Darrow will be portrayed by law school dean, Donald Polden.

In 1911, the year that Santa Clara University established its new School of Law, legendary criminal defense lawyer Clarence Darrow came to California to defend the McNamara brothers, two labor organizers accused of planting a bomb which destroyed the printing plant of the Los Angeles Times and killed 21 workers.

The McNamara case took a surprising turn when the brothers entered guilty pleas after Darrow’s chief investigator, Bert Franklin, was arrested on a Los Angeles street corner passing a bribe to a prospective juror. When Franklin implicated Darrow in a scheme to bribe two jurors, Darrow himself became a defendant in two separate trials. In the first trial, he was defended by Earl Rogers, himself a legend, and the jury acquitted Darrow. The second trial, in which Darrow represented himself, ended in a hung jury. Ever since, historians and legal scholars have debated whether the most famous criminal defense lawyer of all time was, in fact, a jury briber. As we celebrate our Centennial, Santa Clara University School of Law will address this question by again placing Clarence Darrow on trial.

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Clarence Darrow Trial Re-Enactment