The Leopold & Loeb Case: Examining the Minds of Above-Law “Supermen” and the Power of a Closing Argument


read and view the materials in our Week 4 Module, covering Above-Law “Supermen” Leopold & Loeb.
Then, you should answer fully the Questions below in our Threaded Discussion Question (TDQ)Make sure you write significant and substantive entries explaining your reasons.
PREFACE:  Recall that there was no trial before a jury on the culpability of Leopold & Loeb for the charged crimes.  On the recommendation of their defense attorney Clarence Darrow, Leopold & Loeb pled guilty, obviating the need for such a jury trial.  What was held before Judge Caverly was a sentencing hearing to determine their punishment.  The sentencing hearing resembled a trial in many ways, with evidence admitted and testimony from witnesses, but the decision on sentencing was not for a jury but for the court (Judge Caverly) alone, considering the mitigating & aggravating factors.  Would/Should Leopold & Loeb be imprisoned for life (with the possibility of parole) or be put to death under capital punishment?  Darrow’s closing argument lasted 12 hours over 3 days, and when he finished there were tears in the eyes of Judge Caverly and the courtroom was silent for two minutes.  Darrow’s closing argument was dramatically depicted by Orson Welles in the Compulsion video clip we viewed.
Why did Leopold & Loeb, two educated and intelligent young men from rich & respected families in Chicago, commit such a heinous crime?
What do you view as the most important reasons they were caught and charged, despite their elaborate planning of the “perfect crime”?
What part of the closing argument in Compulsion did you find most powerful and why?  Why do you think the Leopold & Loeb story has found its way so often into dramatized film and theater versions?
Video “Compulsion”:



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