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Monday, October 30, 2017

THE GREATEST LAWYER

In  speech earlier this month to a Chicago law school, Supreme Court Justice Kagan called Thurgood Marshall (for whom she clerked) "the greatest lawyer of the twentieth century...no one did more to advance justice."

High praise indeed. 

It's the "advance justice" portion of the quotation that has us wondering. 

Marshall was a top-notch appellate advocate and as Kagan stated, he was also a very good trial lawyer- a skill that is oft not considered when looking at Marshall's career. 


Lee Bailey and Edward Bennett Williams and Gerry Spence were  better trial lawyers in the 20th century than Marshall, but one cannot say they did more  to advance the cause of justice. And as Kagan pointed out, Marshall went into courts and trials in the south often under the threat of death. So Marshall faced obstacles Bailey and Williams and Spence never faced. 

And finally, we tend to look through the lense of "greatest lawyer" as "greatest trial lawyer" but that's like saying the greatest doctor must be a surgeon. 

So, query: Who was a "greater" lawyer than Marshall in the 20th century? 

From Occupied America, where the downfall of a president could have started with the indictments today (we can only hope), fight the power!


17 comments:

Anonymous said...

You and your progressive friends have bombed on this "Russian collusion probe." Now e all get to see why the Clinton Campaign and the DNC spent $16 million on the dossier case which no one remembers pending and why President Obama's campaign existed when he wasn't running for anything and why it kicked-in $1 million. I am sure all of this is just a subterfuge to hide the non-existent ties between Trump and the Russians. Hope none of your saints get tarred with an indictment.

Anonymous said...

Not the greatest lawyer but heard there is a new county court judge appointee.

Anonymous said...

Brown was a horrible opinion that relied almost 99% on social science gobblygook instead of a straight forward constitutional analysis. One wonders if the appellees had presented evidence that the effects of "separate but equal" produced better results than otherwise, would the Supremes have ruled differently? In fact, the federal government, in support of the appellants, made a constitutionally preposterous argument: that separate but equal should be ruled wrong because we were involved in a war of ideas with the Soviet Union and treating black people differently was bad for business with third world kleptocracies. The Court should simply have ruled that the Constitution did not countenance segregation and left it at that. Could have been done in five pages instead of something that read like a PHD dissertation from an Ivy League graduate school.
As for Marshall, his type will never be seen again. He was old school with an exclamation point. His private practice career consisted of arguing cases that were politically unpopular. He was never part of the club. If he had been born in 1968 instead of 1908, he would have been a black John Roberts: a brilliant appellate specialist who cashed in big time before joining the court.
Great lawyers? Google Ray Brown, the late and great black criminal defense lawyer from New Jersey. After the Army, he did what Marshall did but then was so good that he was the "go to" lawyer in Jersey for corrupt politicians and white collar criminal aficionados. Without taking anything away from Brown's brilliant trial skills, there was not exactly a shortage of clients in Jersey who sought his services!

Rumpole said...

6:39- I don't have any friends, much less progressive ones. Admirers- perhaps.

Anonymous said...

Alex Michaels is the greatest lawyer of the 20th and 21st century. A close second, Ted Mastos.

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Anonymous said...

Who is Gordon Murray?

Anonymous said...

Jose Maria “Pepe” Herrera was the greatest lawyer.

Anonymous said...

The Q was and is the greatest lawyer.
Fear the Q
Respect the Q
Close your eyes....be the Q

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid 6:39 is right as usual. Just because the campaign manager is a Russian agent doesn't mean the Trump would have any idea. Also, the fact that members of his inner circle are enthusiastically meeting with Russians and lying about it doesn't at all reflect on the integrity or competence of Trump. After all this is the most ignorant person ever to be elected to any office. Donald is clueless about just about everything. Is America great again yet?

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid 6:39 is right as usual. Just because the campaign manager is a Russian agent doesn't mean the Trump would have any idea. Also, the fact that members of his inner circle are enthusiastically meeting with Russians and lying about it doesn't at all reflect on the integrity or competence of Trump. After all this is the most ignorant person ever to be elected to any office. Donald is clueless about just about everything. Is America great again yet?

Anonymous said...

Obviously none of the above has seen the TRIALMASTER in trial. No one else comes even close.

Anonymous said...

Murray Sams, a legendary PI lawyer of days gone by, used to share with his young associates the truth about the greatest lawyer. "Every lawyer thinks he is the greatest lawyer," Sams said, "but obviously that cannot be true. . . " After a moment, he finished the sentence, " . . . because I am."

Anonymous said...

That depends on how you define greatest. For social impact, then yes, Thurgood Marshall is an obvious choice. For greatest trial lawyer, the late greats James Jay Hogan and Richard Sharpstein would be two of my choices. I miss them both greatly.

Anonymous said...

Mike Grieco is the best

Anonymous said...

William Jennings Bryan

the trialmaster said...

My vote is Bill Colson. No one else comes close.