July 21 Guilty, your Honor
Inside, court came to order.
"Hear ye! Hear ye! This honorable branch of the Criminal court is now in session pursuant to adjournment," announced Court Clerk Scherer.
Judge Caverly spoke. "The case of the People against Nathan Leopold, Jr. and Richard Loeb."
Court Clerk Fred Scherer announced the defendants. "Nathan Leopld Jr and Richard Loeb!" As if on cue from a stage director, they appeared from the lockup. They were well groomed; natty, clean shaven with newly trimmed hair and cleanly brushed suits. They took in the courtroom, their audience, and took their seats behind the defense.
The play was about to begin.
"You may proceed, gentlemen," said Judge Caverly.
Clarence Darrow stirred. The Old Lion, as he would come to be called, rose from his seat. He was about to shock Chicago. "Your honor, these cases are set for this morning for any motions we might wish to make. I only want a few minutes' preliminary indulgence on this matter.
"Of course it is unnecessary to say that this case has given us many perplexities and sleepless nights. Nobody is more aware than we are of what this means and the responsibility that is upon us. We have sought to consider if from every standpoint. First, of course, from the interests of our clients. But I am sure that no one who knows the families of these defendants- or either Mr Benjamin Bachrach of his brother Walter Bachrach, who has been with us in this matter, or myself- will doubt for a minute that we have the deepest sympathy for every one of the families involved."
Earlier that morning, back in the Cook County jail, Leopold and Loeb each received visits from their brothers. They were both told by their older brothers that they must do what Mr Darrow said, that it was the only way. "Babe," Mike Leopold had said to Nathan, "I want you to promise me that you will do precisely what the lawyers tell you to do. Even, kid, if it seems to you that it is putting your head in the noose. We've talked it all out; we're all agreed. Do precisely what they tell you. Will you promise?"
A similar plea met Richard Loeb. Both agreed to do what they were told. Later, Dick and Nathan discussed it together. "What do you suppose it can be, Nate?" said Dick. "Why all the secrecy, do you suppose? And why send our brothers down in advance? Couldn't the lawyers have told us?"
"I've got a good guess, Dick," Nathan replied. "I think they want us to withdraw our please of not guilty and plead guilty."
"What else can it be? What other chance is there? They're surely not going to tell us to put on a bug act at this late date." Nathan had always said he and Dick were completely sane.
In front of the packed courtroom, Judge Cavelry, State's Attorney Crowe, their families, and countless reporters, photographers and newspapermen, the Not Guilty plea was withdrawn and Nathan Leopold, in a low distinct voice, and Richard Loeb, without a show of emotion, both pleaded Guilty to kidnaping for ransom and the murder of Bobby Franks.
Court was scheduled to reconvene Wednesday, July 23.
Because Leopold and Loeb had confessed, and then led the State's Attorney along on a self incriminating field trip to gather up every remaining piece of evidence, complete with running narrative provided by newspapermen who went along on these "outings", when it came time to defend the boys, the defense had basically only two choices; insanity, or guilt.
And from the moment they confessed, the insanity defense was anticipated and prepared for. State's Attorney Crowe, while the boys were still in his custody and unable to see counsel, retained a panel of alienists to examine them, to deem them sane. On Sunday, June 1st, the doctors arrived. Their "examination" lasted until 6:30 that afternoon. Dr Archibald Church, Dr Hugh Patrick, and Dr William Krohn sat around the table in the State's Attorney's office that Sunday afternoon. They listened as Richard recounted the story of the crime. They listened as Nathan interrupted. They listened as Richard and Nathan argued over the streets they took, where a phone booth was, and, oh yes, who was driving.
Likewise, as soon as the boys were sent to the Cook County jail, and allowed to see counsel, they too, began acquiring a formidable list of experts to examine the boys. The insanity defense was discussed by Darrow and by the newspapers. Reporters would comment on every new alienist that traveled to Chicago to examine the boys.
Next; The Trial Begins.
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