Four more controversial court cases in American History!
Prisoners at the Bar by Francis X Busch
Francis X Busch uses court documents to present the arguments of several high profile cases. I do not believe that Busch means to try to persuade people one way or another in these cases. This is simply a good account of each case.
The first case is a murder charge brought against William D Haywood and George Pettibone for the death of former Idaho Governor Steunenberg. The tension, in this case, was caused by a breakdown in communications between the Western Federation of Miners Union and the Mine Owners Association. There had been vandalism on the part of the Union and dirty tactics employed by the Owners, and in the midst of it all, Steunenberg was killed.
The man who killed the ex-governor, Harry Orchard, was known and arrested. Rogue Pinkerton agent James McParland, infamous as the Molly MacGuires strikebreaker worked on Orchard to testify that high ranking members of the Union were involved…
The next case is the highly controversial Sacco/Vanzetti Case. The two men were anarchists and were arrested in connection with a murder. Both men had alibis, and many witnesses said neither of them was at the scene. Sacco and Vanzetti were armed when arrested, and a bullet from Sacco’s gun was tentatively identified as one of the bullets used in the murders.
I understand more about this case now, as Busch goes into the worldwide riots and bombing that plagued the cause of justice. Whether or not the two were guilty, I can see why they were not given retrials, given the violence that was still taking place over their conviction.
The third case is that of Leopold and Loeb. There were really no surprises here. It was interesting to read Clarence Darrow’s impassioned plea for life sentences instead of hanging.
The final case is the Lindbergh Kidnapping. The one thing I liked was an answer to a question that has bothered me for a long time. Here the testimony of the “wood expert” is given merit by listing the education and skills of the expert. I think this has been misrepresented in many books on the case.
I give the book five stars…
Quoth the Raven