A Plea for Mercy
Hello everyone, David Currie here. I read the speech by Clarence Darrow who was the lawyer for Leopold and Loeb, who had killed at random, a 14-year-old boy to see if they could get away with it. This was back in 1924 when the death penalty was in vogue and normally a murder like this would get the death penalty. Mr. Darrow was a famous lawyer that was against the death penalty, which is the reason he was hired by the two boy’s fathers. Everyone knew they were guilty and basically Mr. Darrow only had the chance to keep them from being hung. He pleaded them guilty and basically pleaded for their lives. He definitely used pathos to convince the judge to give the boy’s life in prison and not the death penalty. He does mention the opposition, which is death. The boys were tried in front of a judge, not a jury so, Mr. Darrow fights against the death penalty, which is his opponent. He speaks of World War I and the many deaths that it caused and the effect it would have young people’s mind. He said: “These boys were brought up in it. The details of death were in their homes, their playgrounds, their schools; they were in the newspapers that they read; it was part of their common frenzy— what was a life? It was nothing (Darrow). Mr. Darrow next used pathos for the father and relatives of the two boys. Speaking of Leopold father, he says:” It is a hard thing for a father to see his life hopes crumble into dust” (Darrow).
Mr. Darrow basically pleaded for the boy’s life, to keep them from being executed and in the way it worked. The judge decided to give them life in prison +99 years, but the word on the judge’s decision was because they were young and not because of Mr. Darrow’s sterling speech. Mr. Darrow’s speech was definitely Rogerian. Mr. Darrow tried to persuade the judge in a persuasive nonthreatening manner to give the boy’s life in prison and not the death penalty.
As a side note to the speech by Clarence Darrow is the story of what happened to the two boys in prison. I was so interested in the trial and murder, that I watched a documentary on the subject. Leopold was eventually released from prison and lived a normal life until he passed away at the age of 66. Loeb was killed in prison by a fellow prisoner in 1936.
Darrow, Clarence. “Mercy for Leopold and Loeb.” American Rhetoric. 2011. Web. 11 May