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Ladies And Gentlemen Of The Jury: Greatest Closing Arguments In Modern Law

4.0 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0684859484
ISBN-10: 0684859483
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Anyone who's ever watched Perry Mason knows that the closing argument is a very important part of a big legal case. The closing argument is the "game point" of law, the time when lawyers pull out all the stops on the cajoling and the litigating. Michael S. Lief and his coauthors have collected the closing arguments from 10 noteworthy cases in this volume, introducing each speech with background information on the trial and commentary on the lawyer's technique. In these pages, readers get front-row seats to some of the most riveting trials in this century, including the Charles Manson murder trial, Karen Silkwood's wrongful-death suit, and the trial of the Chicago Seven.

Because the authors chose to include all the courtroom interruptions in the transcript, the Manson summation makes for especially lively reading. Manson and his codefendants repeatedly spoke out of turn during prosecutor Vincent Bugliosi's statement, saying things like "You are going to be eaten up by your own lie" and "Even if I have never been in the Gotham Bank!" Bugliosi's speech is among the most eloquent in the collection, which is why it is so stunning when one of the defendants provokes him so much that he loses his cool and calls her a name that rhymes with rich.

Although the title promises the "greatest closing arguments in modern law," some of the speeches seem to have been chosen because they were connected to important cases rather than because of their own rhetorical merits. However, the cases themselves are interesting, and these transcripts bring them to life better than any summary would. This collection should be of interest to anyone in the legal profession. --Jill Marquis --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

In a country where celebrity lawyers are worshipped like divas, it's surprising that until now no one has collected their most glorious arias?the closing arguments of front-page cases. Here Lief (a deputy DA in Ventura, Calif.), Caldwell (a professor of law at Pepperdine University) and Bycel (dean of UWLA School of Law) have assembled the "ten greatest arguments" delivered by American advocates in civil and criminal trials in the last century. Included are some obvious choices: Clarence Darrow's impassioned plea to spare Leopold and Loeb from the gallows; Robert Jackson's magisterial condemnation of Hitler's henchmen at Nuremberg; Gerry Spence's folksy attack on the Kerr-McGee nuclear power plant on behalf of Karen Silkwood; Vincent Bugliosi's methodical devastation of the Manson family. Readers will enjoy second-guessing the editors: Is Donald Re's close in the DeLorean trial "greater" in advocating on behalf of a notorious client than Johnnie Cochran's (overlooked here, as is Daniel Petrocelli)? Is William Kunstler's argument in the Chicago 7 trial "great" or is it merely a famous lawyer's last word in a famous case? Does the snippet of Clara Shortridge Foltz's argument presented here, in which she wittily exposes the opposing counsel's sexism, outrank the close of, say, Thurgood Marshall in Brown v. Board of Education? Unfortunately, the editors' brief commentaries shed little light on why these particular arguments make their top-10 list. They virtually ignore opposing counsel's arguments, except in the case of My Lai Lieut. William Calley Jr. Repeatedly, they praise the top-10 closures for focusing the evidence and talking "horizontally" to the jury, but surely there's magic unaccounted for.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (May 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684859483
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684859484
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #345,163 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Ladies and Gentlemen... kills two birds with one stone by providing an eduactional and intruiging experience. You will hit your curiousity spot by learning what the landmark trials of the United States were all about, and you will also get locked into some of the most persuasive literature I have ever seen.
While those who are interested in the legal field are virtually guaranteed to be interested in reading Ladies and Gentlemen..., you don't need to be anything close to a lawyer to appreciate this. This anthology of closing arguments teaches the reader how to connect/communicate with others. After reading a series of closing arguments, I learned different strategies to use to relate to a group of people to get my point across (in this case, a jury). This book is great to any businessman, negotiator, or even those who want to improve their basic social, everyday, oral skills.
I just bought this book for ten of my friends for the past holiday season, and I got star reports from all of them. I recommend this innovative book to all types of readers.
--Emanuel Abrishami
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Format: Paperback
After years of arguing caseslaw, motions, picking juries, interviewing witnesses, going through all the day to day protocol that trial work demands, one may forget at times how important is the job of a lawyer. But this book reminds the practioner that he/she is a part of a wonderful system of justice. Not many cases will go down as "The Greatest" but to your clients, it is often the defining moment of their lives. And this book helps you reconnect to the reasons why you sought a lifetime devoted to the noblest of professions.

Reading about the great lawyers of in our history is humbling and worthwhile. Reflection is helpful as you try to regain a little lost idealism. And if you are a new lawyer and have all of you ideals from law school still in tact, reading this book will help you realize how important it is to never lose them. Great book for lawyers and non-lawyers alike.
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Format: Hardcover
The authors have done a fantastic job of resurrecting some of the finest closing arguments of all time. From Gerry Spence's closing in Silkwood (perhaps the greatest closing argument ever) to the flair and panache of William Kuntsler, this book provides excitement and intrigue at the turn of every page. Completely engrossing. . . . I recommend this book for anyone who has an interest in trial practice, or plain old human drama.
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Format: Paperback
If only for Spence's closing in the Silkwood case, this book is worth every penny. A real thing of subtle and effective beauty, that closing contains so many incredible and useful techniques, it's just plain stunning. The subtle allignment of Spence to the jurors in groups in which Spence and the jurors can work together are wonderful and powerful -- Spence places himself and the jurors by turns in a self built retirement community, and in the class of local state citizens all the while emphasizing that the cause of the need for retirement and the genesis of Spence's new found home state membership is the defense's prolongation of trial -- wonderful. The rhyming "if the lion gets away, Kerr McGee must pay" is hard-to-forget and masterfully so. The analysis that proceeds each transcript is useful and informative. Buy it if you can.
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Format: Hardcover
As a reader of only non-fiction pieces, this was an excellent book. It takes a short look at the case itself, explaining what its all about, then brings you to the closing argument. I don't know if you can truly call them the "greatest" closing arguments, but they must be some of the best. The book held my attention from cover to cover. Of particular interest to me was Gerry spence on the Karen Silkwood case, Darrow on Loeb and Leopold, and the John Delorean defense, all high profile, and all well thought out defenses, The Delorean defense is sure to suprise you!
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Format: Hardcover
I found this book a must for anyone interested in famous trials. I'm an historian and not a lawyer and found it to be just what I needed to increase my knowledge of specific trials at crucial points in history.
For example, the chapter on the Nazi war crimes trials allowed me to fully understand the complexities of an international war tribunal.
Darrow's closing argument in the Leopold and Loeb case was one of the most erudite pieces of logic this writer has ever come across.
I've given this book to many of my lawyer friends as presents. They enjoyed it as much as I did.
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Format: Hardcover
I was disappointed with this book. It seemed "flat", something was missing. I think that there was not enough critical commentary and analyis on the closing arguments selected and what made them the "greatest" closing arguments in modern law. The book essentially gives the facts of the case, a brief commentary on the summation, then the summation itself. If you buy this book, read the table of contents first so that you know whether or not you are interested in reading about the chosen cases. Otherwise the book will not be a good read.
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Format: Paperback
This book, the first in a series of three by the authors, looks at significant trials in American history. What I found interesting as a teacher of trial advocacy is the ability to read closing arguments from a wide variety of lawyers that took place in the context of interesting trials. Is the collection of closing arguments the greatest in history? Who is to say unless you were in the courtroom. But that does not take away from the fact that the book provides a unique glimpse for lawyers to see how other attorneys handled difficult issues in their closing arguments.
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