The Most Interesting Trial of the Century

In your opinion, what is the most interesting Trial of the Century?

To me, it’s the Lindbergh Kidnapping Trial of the late 1930s. The sheer frenzy it created was incredible. My opinion is that I don’t think Hauptmann did it. I seriously doubt Lindbergh could remember Cemetary John’s exact muffled voice after three or four years. Hauptmann was simply a scapegoat because the frenzy this crime brought up demanded for the police to catch somebody. I do believe he knew something, but he didn’t do anything.

Another interesting trial was the Manson Family Killings. The way they acted in court was just bizarre (Manson tried to attack the Judge at one point, and once showed up a newspaper headline that declared that Nixon thought Manson guilty), and kudos to Bugliosi for convicting Manson, especially since Manson didn’t do any of the murders himself.

As an attorney, my view of celebrated trials is somewhat jaded. I’m of the opinion that TV cameras are not a good idea in the court room and that the old charcoal drawings of court scenes are, in fact, the best way of showing what occurs in the court room. Publicity doesn’t add anything to the outcome of a trial or proceeding except where the victims enjoy the Springer-esque attention they receive. (I’m not accusing anybody of anything here, just giving an opinion.)

That being said, my favorite trials are those that end up in complicated Supreme Court proceedings that bring up fundamental constitutional issues (interesting in an intellectual way, but otherwise rather boring). My current favorite is the Eldred v. Ashcroft case. I’m not happy about how it turned out as I think that copyright terms are already too long. The life of the author is probably enough, though I can image that Disney would certainly start up a black bag division capable of freeing up interesting works in short order.