A rhetorical analysis of the courtroom remarks of Clarence Darrow in his defense of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb for the murder of Robert Franks
The purpose of this study was to examine the courtroom summation of Clarence Darrow in the Leopold-Loeb Murder Trial by the application of the Burkeian concepts of strategy and pentad. Darrow's primary objective, or master strategy, was to save the defendants from execution. To accomplish this objective, Darrow had to overcome volatile public opinion which demanded the execution of Leopold and Loeb.A major factor in Darrow's rhetorical scheme concerned his decision to enter a plea of "guilty with mitigation of punishment"—a move which by-passed a jury and placed the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the judge. In order to accomplish the master strategy, Darrow employed a number of minor strategies. The most successful of these strategies were those designed to manipulate Judge Caverly's emotional responses. Darrow's master strategy succeeded because he recognized the rhetorical obstacles and because he employed sound rhetorical judgment to accomplish his objective.