Earl Rogers Great Criminal Trial Lawyer

earl rogersAny good criminal trial lawyer is always searching for ways to improve their trial skills. One way to do that is to study great criminal trial lawyers from the past. One of the most interesting criminal trial lawyers I have read about is Earl Rogers who practiced in California in the 1890’s until his death in 1922.

In his day Earl Rogers was considered the best criminal lawyer on the west coast. When Clarence Darrow was indicted for Jury Tampering in Las Angeles, Rogers was hired as defense counsel. In his career he tried 77 murder cases and only lost one. Rogers was a voracious reader and became an expert in forensics. He often won cases through his cross-examinations of the medical experts put on by the prosecution. Rogers once brought the victims intestines into court to prove his client was lying down with the victim standing over him when he shot in self defense.

Rogers was the first lawyer to introduce the science of ballistics into a criminal trial. Rogers was defending three Los Angeles police officers who were facing charges of shooting two men down in cold blood. The case had been well publicized in the local newspapers and the public  believed the officers would be found guilty. Rogers called in experts and introduced photographs of the bullets recovered from the crime scene. He was able to prove the victims had fired their guns at the officers and his clients were found Not Guilty.

Rogers once introduced a poker table into evidence and cross-examined the prosecutions eye witness to the murder while he and the witness were seated at the table. He was able to demonstrate to the jury that the eye witness was lying and his client was acquitted.

In every trial Rogers believed the defense attorney should put some one else on trial other than the defendant. Whether it was the victim, the police, or an eye witness Rogers believed the focus of the trial should be on some one else other than the defendant,

If you have the time you can read further about Earl Rogers in the book Final Verdict written by Rogers daughter Adela Rogers St. John or the book Take the Witness by Alfred Cohn and Joe Chisholm.

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