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Leopold and Loeb Trial: 1924

"they Should Be Permanently Isolated From Society"

By July 23, when the trial opened, all America except Clarence Darrow and his team expected Leopold and Loeb to hang. Shocked by the idea that the sons of the rich had nothing better to do than kill younger rich kids for the thrill of it, the country wanted an eye for an eye. Darrow knew that no jury would settle for less. Standing before Chief Justice John R. Caverly, he went right to the point: "We want to state frankly here that no one believes these defendants should be released. We believe they should be permanently isolated from society. After long reflection, we have determined to make a motion for each to withdraw our plea of not guilty and enter pleas of guilty to both indictments."

Flabbergasted, the prosecution realized that Darrow had instantly wiped out the chance of a jury conviction. Now the judge alone would consider the case. Darrow went on. "We ask that the court permit us to offer evidence as to the mental condition of these young men. We wish to offer this evidence in mitigation of punishment."

The prosecution objected violently, but Judge Caverly said he would hear evidence of mitigation. "I want to give you all the leeway I can," he said. "I want to get all the doctors' testimony. There is no jury here, and I'd like to be advised as fully as possible."

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1918 to 1940Leopold and Loeb Trial: 1924 - The Perfect Murder… For Its Thrill, "i Have A Hanging Case", "they Should Be Permanently Isolated From Society"