1901 - 2000 What was the trial of the century?

Without a doubt, the Nuremberg Trials.

I’d go with the Nuremburg Trials (and in saying that I’m not just referring to the principal trial; but including those elsewhere for war crimes of WW2 as a convenience).

What makes it different to me, and more important was that it was international in the context of professionals in their field from at least the four presiding countries.

I don’t know that I would use public exposure as a guide. How many people in remote places were aware of the OJ trial- and in the end, what did it really matter? (outside of the USA).

I await adverse comments.

The Hall-Mills Murder, of course. Nothing beat it for pure drama. Where else do you have:

  1. A mysterious murder of a minister and his lover on Lover’s Lane.
  2. One witness referred to in the press as “The Pig Woman.”
  3. The Pig Woman being brought into the courtroom on a hospital bed as she was dying of cancer, and giving her testimony lying down.
  4. The wife of the murdered man – a major suspect – being so cool over her husband’s death that she was referred to as “The Iron Widow.”
  5. The supposedly retarded brother-in-law of the dead man testifying and managing to outsmart the DA.
  6. The suspects found not guilty, leaving the murder still unsolved.
  7. The defendants suing the newspapers for defamation.

For a full acount, go to the Crime Library.

Now, this trial doesn’t compare to many of the others mentioned for importance, but for sensationalism, only the OJ Simpson trial comes close.

Well here again, I don’t think there was any trial in this case. The Supreme Court decision was actually a collective decision on cases from several states, and each of those underlying cases seems to have been decided on motions and arguments rather than trial. The Plaintiff’s cases were thrown out, based on the Supreme Court’s prior ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson. The possible exception might be the Delaware case, where some evidence may have been taken.

I think that to offer a case as “trial of the century,” you’re going to have to come up with some evidence that there was an actual trial.

Joe v The Volcano

I’m fond of the Hall-Mills case aka the Minister and the Choir Singer but I nominate the murder of Stanford White by Harry K. Thaw, over White’s debauching of Thaw’s wife, Evelyn Nesbit.

here’s a Wiki link but there are many others.

Earth vs The Spider

Well, sometimes a baseball game may be boring for the first 8 innings but then the 9th inning has all the drama.
You could argue that Brown v Board of Ed, has had the most impact because of the decision. (That’s why I put in different groups) Brown is huge and it certainly impacted my life as I was bussed about as a kid.
Roe V Wade seems to still dominate the news though. People argue to have it overturned. Very few people, non of them mainstream, argue that Brown needs to be overturned.

But (damn, I’m getting tired of repeating this) neither of those cases seems to have had a trial at all, which would seem like a basic prerequisite for the title “Trial of the Century.” (See thread title.)

So what do they call it when the Supreme Court hears a case? Is it a trial? If it is not called a trial, then I accept that USSC decisions are out.

Santa Claus v. The Martians

With an 8 yr old Pia Zadora.
*:: le sigh :: *

You win.

My vote would be that appellate proceedings, such as those before the Supreme Court, don’t count as trials. A trial is where you present the evidence before the finder of fact (judge or jury) and get a verdict. So no go for Brown or Roe.

It’s a “case.” A case may or may not reach trial. Many are decided on motions to dismiss, or motions for summary judgment. Some are decided based on stipulated facts, or depositions, or affidavits, in which case there may be no need for a trial.

A trial is the opportunity to present facts. If the parties do not dispute the underlying facts, but only disagree about how the law applies to those facts, no trial is necessary.

No, no, no. It was Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

Santa Claus was not one to get bogged down in litigation.

The Scopes Monkey Trial (more properly, Scopes v. State, 152 Tenn. 424, 278 S.W. 57) was a set-up from the very beginning (on both the part of the prosecution and defense princials), and desipte its portrayal on film and stage, was pretty tame. Had it not been for the incisive satire of H.L. Mencken (and his support, both fiscally and publicity to the defense) it would probably not be so celebrated.

It’d argue the most significant of the selections so far presented is Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka in terms of the lasting impact it had on the nation, and as a watershed to the civil rights movement of the Sixties. (Rosa Parks may have been an icon but Brown established a legal front in which to assert equal rights to public services and facilities. (Roe v. Wade dealt with an equally serious issue but the resulting decision was sufficiently ambiguous that it scarcely resolved anything; while opening up the debate on reproductive rights it didn’t provide a very concrete conclusion, and the resultant patchwork of abortion laws and precidents have wavered with public opinion over the decades since.)

Media trials like the Lindburg kidnap case, the Sam Sheppard murder trial, and O.J. Simpson’s famous were all popularized by a media capitalizing on a lack of other real news, celebrity status, and public interest in what were otherwise pretty nominal cases, often amplified by poor decisions and gross procedural errors in trial. Famous in their time, perhaps, but how many of the average Man On The Street polled are going to know the salient details of Lindberg or Sheppard? The Simpson trial will equally fade from memory, while significant caselaw will continue to have a lasting impact upon history.

It doesn’t look like any of our resident jurists have weighed in yet. I’d be curious to see what Campion, Bricker, anu-la1979, et cetera.


::waving arms and shouting:: THOSE ARE NOT TRIALS! They are appellate decisions.

This is kind of a difficult question to answer seriously. Major societal and policy matters are not generally solved at “trials.” As indicated, to the extent that they are addressed in the legal system, they are decided in appellate proceedings, which are not trials.

So, the concept of a “trial of the century” is not easily amenable to serious societal or political matters. It’s really a matter of public interest or excitement. In other words, it’s really a trivial matters. Our choices are things like Fatty Arbuckle and O.J. Simpson. To compare such events, separated considerably in time, I’d like to hear from a cultural historian.

I did know that Bricker and Anu are lawyers, but I wasn’t aware that they were jurists.

How sweet of you to include me in that list, Stranger, seeing as I barely feel like a lawyer whatever all those pieces of paper hanging on the wall say. I mean, I like to say I am, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t really do much lawtalking around here.

I’d say Brown is an excellent choice but I personally find the privacy rights cases to be more interesting (my 2nd choice was healthcare law…cripes, how did I end up as Comma Guardian???) so I’d say the entire line of cases that either expand or retract the edges of the right to privacy-Skinner, Griswold, Casey, Roe, Cruzan, Bowers and that latest case that overturned it (yawn I forget stuff once I’m no longer tested on it) to be of deeper interest to me.

I’m also keen to see how the law handles the explosion of options in reproductive technology and subsequent bioethical implications-it’s on a very case-by-case basis at the moment and I’m keen on seeing whether we manage to establish any guiding principals or if we’re going to continue to determine the issues on a strictly ad hoc basis, tailing behind technology or rising above it.

Or you know, I may just keep on playing with commas and corporations and just forget everything I spent so much of my parents’ money learning. I’m guessing this is most likely to happen.

This would not be the right time to note that I spent my first year of lawschool, pencil in stubby finger, laboriously writing “P” and “D” above the parties’ names because I kept forgetting the sides, right*? I was under the impression that the OP meant memorable/important “case”-because seriously, most trials are just dullsville and Illinois v. Gates may be an appellate decision but it did originate in the trial courts.

*Yes I graduated. Ranked, even.