In his words
Actor resurrects some of Clarence Darrow's most compelling arguments in performance at UofSC law school
By Dana Woodward, email@example.com, 803-777-3691
For one night only on Feb. 11, the Karen J. Williams courtroom at the UofSC School of Law will transform into famous courtrooms from the past, following the story of Clarence Darrow, a premier American trial attorney known for his courtroom theatrics.
In the one-man production, “A Passion for Justice: An Encounter with Clarence Darrow,” actor Paul Morella portrays a selection of Darrow’s most dynamic arguments, including his showdown with William Jennings Bryan on the teaching of evolution from the 1925 case The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes, known as the Scopes “Monkey” Trial.
Darrow’s legacy includes defenses of freedom of speech, integration and fair labor practices – an attorney who recognized that the courtroom was a powerful tool for social policy and change. Morella, however, allows that Darrow was by no means perfect; his production includes the McNamara trial in which Darrow was accused of bribery and jury tampering.
It makes you realize that the art of courtroom advocacy is a vital part of our system of justice and without gutsy lawyers taking on hard cases and giving it all they’ve got, we don’t have a good system.
Joel Collins, UofSC School of Law '68
The play was crafted primarily from Darrow’s own words, allowing the audience to hear verbatim his famous courtroom arguments from the Leopold and Loeb trial and the landmark 1925 civil rights trial of Ossian Sweet.
“[Morella] is fastidious about the details,” says Joel Collins, UofSC School of Law graduate and member of the South Carolina chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates, the organization responsible for bringing the production to Columbia.
The show reveals how effective Darrow was “and how thoroughly he was able to communicate with jurors and talk to them in a compelling and persuasive way,” Collins says.
Darrow’s arguments showcase some of the best cases of courtroom arguments, but the show isn’t just for attorneys. His points resonate with anyone who has a passion for justice, and they are just as relevant today as they were when he argued them.
“It makes you realize that the art of courtroom advocacy is a vital part of our system of justice and without gutsy lawyers taking on hard cases and giving it all they’ve got, we don’t have a good system.”
If you're going
The production is free of charge and open to the public, but tickets must be reserved in advance. The show takes place from 6-7:15 p.m., Feb. 11, in the Karen J. Williams Courtroom at the UofSC School of Law.
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