The Darrow Chronicles: (Pilot) State of Idaho v. Big Bill Haywood by Daniel Broderick | Script Revolution

The Darrow Chronicles: (Pilot) State of Idaho v. Big Bill Haywood

In the 1900's, labor and management engaged in open warfare. Clarence Darrow defended union leaders suspected of dynamiting the Idaho Governor and the Los Angeles Times building, In 1912, Darrow himself became a defendant.



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The Clarence Darrow Chronicles follow the career of the most renowned lawyer of the 20th Century.  

Most people are at least vaguely aware of the Scopes Monkey Trial (depicted in the movie Inherent the Wind) and perhaps the Leopold and Loeb case (fictionalized by Hitchcock in Rope and memorialized ten years later in Compulsion).  But before either of these trials, Clarence Darrow was involved in the first "trial of the century":  the murder trial of controversial labor leader "Big Bill" Haywood, for the assassination of Idaho Governor Frank Steunenberg.

Episode One (Pilot):  State of Idaho v. Big Bill Haywood

Mine owners in Idaho were able to suppress union activity by enlisting the aid of the Idaho governor. Years after leaving office, the former governor was assassinated by a bomb planted at his home by Harry Orchard, a man Darrow labeled either the biggest murderer who ever lived, or the biggest liar who ever lived.  

Orchard was enticed by a famous Pinkerton detective to claim he was acting under orders from union leaders, like Big Bill Haywood. Haywood was kidnapped and brought to Idaho for trial. Darrow, unsuccessful in challenging the kidnapping before the U.S. Supreme Court and Oliver Wendell Holmes, was one of his lawyers at trial. He contested Orchard's testimony with over 100 witnesses and was able to prevent the prosecution's effort to bolster Orchard's story by introducing lie detector evidence for the first time in the U.S.

After a brilliant closing argument by Darrow, Haywood was acquitted. Later convicted of sedition for ordering union strikes during WW I, Darrow posted Haywood's bond on appeal, allowing him to flee to Russia, where he remained, ultimately to be buried in the Kremlin Wall.  

Episode 2: The McNamara Brothers v. Harrison Gray Otis
Episode 3: The Bombing of the Los Angeles Times Building

The Haywood trial was followed by an even more widely publicized murder case against the two McNamara brothers for the bombing of the Los Angeles Times Building (which killed 22 people) and the attempted assassination of its publisher Harrison Gray Otis. The evidence against the brothers was gathered by private detective William Burns, renowned as the Sherlock Holmes of the United States.  

Episodes 4 and 5: State of California v. Clarence Darrow

 After the McNamara case ended, Darrow was charged with jury tampering.  He represented himself, alongside Earl Rogers, the most celebrated criminal defense attorney in the United States, and the model for Perry Mason.. 

Episode 6: Defending Communists

Twenty party members were charged in Chicago with conspiracy to overthrow the government.

Episode 7: Leopold and Loeb

Teen age sons of millionaires attempt the perfect crime: kidnapping and murder. Darrow defends them against the death penalty.  

Episodes 8 and 9: The Scopes "Monkey" Trial

Darrow defends a teacher arrested for teaching evolution in a Tennessee public school. His opponent was William Jennings Bryant.

Episode 10: The Sweet Murder Trial

A black family moved into a white neighborhood in Detroit and a man was killed when a mob attempted to get them to move. Darrow defended Dr. Sweet in his murder trial. 

Submitted: October 25, 2021
Last Updated: October 25, 2021

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Daniel Broderick's picture

The Writer: Daniel Broderick

California native. Born in Los Angeles after my parents moved there from Chicago, where my father wrote for television after WWII and college. Have lived in San Fernando Valley, Orange County, Palo Alto, Florence (Italy), Washington, D.C., New Haven (Connecticut), West Los Angeles, Germany, and Sacramento. Currently live in Pasadena, California. Stanford undergrad. Played basketball until hurt my sophomore year, Yale Law School. Non-lawyer jobs include assembling board games, gas station attendant, assembling yachts, picking up trash at the beach, washing dorm windows, maintenance at a golf course, painting the take off boards for the long jump and triple jump (jock job, where I was... Go to bio

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