Writing this as we’re waiting on the results of the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis. Everybody is calling this the Trail Of The Century.
It made me think about all of the other “trials of the century” because very few years there’s another “trial of the century”.
Certainly in the mid-90’s, O.J. SImpson was the trial of the century. I’m told before that Bruno Hauptman, the Lindbergh baby kidnapping case, was the trial of the century. Before that it was Leopold and Loeb was the trial of the century. In the 1970’s, Patricia Hearst and the Symbionese Liberation Army was the trial of the century.
More recently, here in Florida, Casey Anthony was the trial of the century.
I guess it helps the media to hype cases like that. I like to believe that every case that I take to trial, it’s the trial of the century. It’s certainly the most important case going to trial for that client of mine. And I need to treat it as if it were.
I didn’t watch a lot of the Casey Anthony trial. Mostly what I gained from the Casey Anthony trial was a private investigator. My good friend Jerry Lyons, who you’ll meet here on one of our podcasts, is a retired New York City detective, and he actually worked as the lead defense investigator for Casey Anthony’s defense team. I’ve worked with him on lots of cases over the years, and he’s one of the very best investigators I’ve ever worked with.
I learned more, I think, from the O.J. Simpson trial because I watched most of that. I remember like it was yesterday the shocked look on the faces of local prosecutors after the verdict.
I wasn’t shocked. I wasn’t surprised at all. I thought the prosecution did a terrible job in that case. I don’t think they used the best lawyers they had, but if they did, the lawyers they had were just not very good and didn’t do a very good job.
The defense, on the other hand, was, honest to goodness, an all-star team, a dream team of lawyers. Johnnie Cochrane was fantastic. F. Lee Bailey and Robert Shapiro did a wonderful job at their roles in the case. Barry Scheck was great in the DNA evidence. And it helped that they had so much to work with.
I mean, I’m looking forward to the time when I try a case and the key piece of evidence was alleged to have been found by a police detective, and nobody else saw him find it, and, by the way, the detective had already filed and litigated an attempt at early retirement (through workers’ compensation, I suppose) claiming that he could no longer work as a police officer because of his inherent racism and bias against African Americans.
That was a lot for the defense to work with, and it was an uphill climb for the prosecution, but if they could make a mistake, they did. They never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
Big trials like this can be great learning experiences for lawyers and for future jurors. It’s fascinating to watch, and it never fails – everybody’s a critic. I would love to share with you some of the comments I’ve heard about the prosecutor and the defense attorney, the two teams, in the Minnesota police officer’s case. But they’re not really fit for this medium. I’ll save those for barroom conversations.