Leopold & Loeb Murder Trial - The Importance of Preparing for Sentencing
Most people think the goal of a criminal defense attorney is to achieve a verdict of not guilty. However, in some cases, the mission of a criminal defense lawyer is to negotiate a deal for their client. This could mean reduced bail, charges, and sentences. One of the most famous murder trials in history, Leopold and Loeb, demonstrates the importance of preparing for sentencing. Keep reading for an overview on how criminal defense attorney Clarence Darrrow saved his clients from the death penalty.
Leopold and Loeb – Criminal Defense Strategy
In this case, Nathan F. Leopold, Jr. and Richard A. Loeb confessed to the kidnapping and murder of 14-year-old Robert “Bobby” Franks for an “intellectual” thrill. Despite the hideous nature of the crime, the judge ultimately sentenced them each to life imprisonment.
How did Clarence Darrow save Leopold and Loeb from execution after the two men confessed to the cold-blooded murder of Bobby Franks?
Fortunately for Leopold and Loeb, their attorney masterfully prepared a defense that saved them from being executed for their crimes. For 33 days, famed lawyer Clarence Darrow defended the two before Judge John R. Caverly, offering an eloquent appeal against capital punishment.
“Our Honor knows that in this very court crimes of violence have increased growing out of the war. Not necessarily by those who fought but by those that learned that blood was cheap, and human life was cheap and if the State could take it lightly why not the boy?”– Clarence Darrow
In a final attempt to reduce the sentence for his clients, criminal defense attorney Clarence Darrow delivered a twelve-hour summation against the death penalty. He spoke of the war and how it changed the way the world values human life. Darrow shed light on the fact that killing is taught, hatred and cruelty ingrained in children in preparation for the fight.
Darrow spoke of the environment and society in which these two young men had grown up. In their world, he suggested, life meant nothing. How many years will pass before society recovers from this impassive attitude towards others? Then, Clarence Darrow plead for the future of mankind. He begged the judge to step out of the past and away from the cruelty of man against other men. His passionate plea worked.
Darrow even went as far to request an appearance from Sigmund Freud himself to explain the actions of Leopold and Loeb. Three weeks later, unimpressed by the defense psychiatric reports, Judge Caverly delivered his verdict. He stated that he could not sentence men of such a young age to death by hanging. Caverly did not feel it would be appropriate in this case. Instead, he imprisoned both men for life for the murder of 14-year-old Bobby Franks with an extra 99 years added for his kidnapping.
A good criminal defense attorney NEVER leaves sentencing to fate.
Clarence Darrow’s compelling twelve-hour summation stands as one of the most eloquent attacks on the death penalty ever delivered in an American courtroom. Preparing for sentencing is a true art.
Not all victories are won in the guilt-innocence portion of the trial.
Leopold and Loeb committed the most heinous of crimes, killing a young boy for “the thrill of it.” Upon confessing, they left Mr. Darrow with a daunting task. How do you save someone who murdered a child for a rush?
Only the most sympathetic heart would wish anything other than death for these two killers. Even so, Clarence Darrow was brilliant in his strategy and adequately prepared to convince the judge to spare their lives. The intention of this blog post is not to question the validity of the death penalty, but to let clients know that prepping for sentencing is often the most significant part of a criminal case. It can save your life or minimize your exposure to the harshest of consequences.
Pleading Your Case – Preparing a Criminal Defense
It’s hard for an attorney to convince Judges or jurors that someone deserves a second chance, especially if they spent the guilt-innocence phase trying to convince the Court that their client was innocent. When determining a sentence, pre and post-trial behavior are taken into consideration. If the defendant demonstrates remorse, seeks counseling, engages in self-help practices, etc., those actions can help to lighten the sentence.