The Charlotte News

Sunday, April 19, 1936



Site Ed. Note: See an F.B.I. report on the Darrow Esquire article--which Cash describes with far more brevity and wit. It seems that in late June, 1936, a Special Agent decided to write a thorough summary because "portions of this article might be helpful to the Director in making future addresses, at which time he might desire to point out how unscrupulous criminal lawyers stimulate disrespect for law and influence crime conditions." Well, given what we know of the Director's exploits and that of those under his supervision in subsequent years, (especially those he referred to as "COIN-TEL. PROS", or something like that), perhaps the Director might have better studied, alas, his own reflection at length and thereby conducted a far more penetrating study of "unscupulous criminal lawyers". For prose by any other name is still quite amateurish. But most of that prose did come later, from what we know--later when the Director's lust for and lasting prolongation of Caesarian power bordered on, if not equalled, that of the Caesars of the 1930's in Europe. His Directions for nearly a half century carried great gravity in society, such gravity as expressed in perfect metaphor by the fact that one of the number of his Marine honor guard pall bearers fainted beneath the weight of his lead-lined casket while carrying it down the steps of the Capitol one very hot early May afternoon in 1972. And that wasn't long before... Well, you figure it out.

Darrow Laughs

Clarence Darrow is now in his 80th year. He is growing old and bulbous and filled with an inextinguishable laughter at what fools these mortals be. That he went to the peak of his profession as a criminal defense lawyer affects his Homeric chuckles only by giving them wider range. The courts of justice, which have been his playground, are theaters wherein he has starred, wherein the grand finales of "Not Guilty" verdicts have been so regular and so long continued that their very familiarity has given him a genial contempt for the whole business.

The Darrow philosophy, as outlined by himself in the May "Esquire," is a thing of piercing interest to all men who speak of justice. A court is a place where "the bailiff intones some voodoo singsong words in ominous voice that carries fear and respect at the opening of the rite." A judge wears a flowing robe "to set him apart from his fellow men and to awe and intimidate and impress the audience with seeming wisdom oftener than with kindliness and compassion." As for justice, "in reality there is no such thing as justice, either in or out of court."

His choice of jurors should prove of interest in these parts. An Irishman, by reason of his emotionalism and "under dog" complex, is the ideal juror. The Englishman is not so good, his feeling being that he is not right until everybody is against him. The German is better, but has no inherent feeling for liberty. Among the religionists, a Catholic is good, a Presbyterian is terrible, the Baptists are hopeless, the Methodists are worth considering, but Jews and Unitarians and agnostics are the best of the lot. The ideal juror, he has found, is the man of smiling and tolerant temperament.

It would be inexcusable, of course, for a man of Darrow's position to laugh the courts out of court without providing a substitute. Crime, he says, should be handled as disease is handled, each case on its merits, given attention by experts who know its history, who know diagnosis and cure. That, he chuckles, would be a mortal blow to the legal profession.

Framed Edition
[Go to Links-Page by Subject] [Go to Links-Page by Date] [Go to News Framed Edition]
Links-Date -- Links-Subj.