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Case study - Italian anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were arrested near Boston in 1920 and charged with the murder of a shoe factory paymaster and the guard of the factory.

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Introduction

Michael Hennessy 4/6/03 Case Report AP US History II Italian anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were arrested near Boston in 1920 and charged with the murder of a shoe factory paymaster and the guard of the factory. Frederick Parmenter and the guard were carrying $16,000 in payroll money for the South Braintree shoe factory on April 15, 1920. They were attacked, robbed, and shot. The two killers escaped in a getaway car. A similar crime was committed in the nearby town of Bridgewater four months earlier. Bridgewater police chief arrested Sacco and Vanzetti, who were two poor Italian immigrants, and anarchists. Vanzetti was indicted for the Bridgewater robbery attempt. Frederick Katzmann, the district attorney who had interrogated the two men, prosecuted him. Vanzetti wouldn't testify at his trial. The prosecution's case was based on eyewitness testimony. The descriptions of the witnesses were a rough match of Vanzetti. Despite an alibi backed up by several witnesses that he was selling eels during the Christmas Eve robbery attempt, the jury found Vanzetti guilty of attempted robbery and attempted murder on July 1, 1920. Judge Webster Thayer gave him 12 to 15 years in prison. ...read more.

Middle

The textbook he used was a pro-evolutionary book, though it had several modifications from the Darwinian theory. The case brought national attention. William Jennings Bryan was strongly against the theory of evolution. Clarence Darrow, considered by many to be an atheist, was the most famous trial lawyer in America. He offered his services to defend Scopes. The trial began on July 10, 1925. Judge John T. Raulston oversaw the case. The courtroom was filled with reporters, microphones, and film cameras. All but one of the jurors were church members, and most of them were uneducated farmers. The prosecution's case was brief. The defense's case was built around expert testimony on evolutionary theory, but the jury was not present during the defense's case. Darrow then called Bryan to the stand to ask his view on evolution. This lasted for two hours before Raulston stopped the interrogation; the jury never heard a word of the testimony. Scopes was found guilty, and Raulston fined him the bare minimum of $100 dollars. This was a violation of state law that required the jury to decide the amount. ...read more.

Conclusion

Though he did believe both men were disturbed, they were not insane by legal standards. Darrow realized the pressure that would be placed on the jury to execute the men. He wanted their fate to be decided by a judge. The defense sought to bring before the court, as mitigating circumstances, the boys' social maladjustment and mental illness. Leopold's parents had sent him to an all-female school as a child, in a misguided attempt to overcome his shyness around girls. This had the opposite effect. Loeb, like Leopold, was a precocious but emotionally unstable youth. The victim, Bobby Franks, was more or less chosen at random. Their idea was to kidnap the child of a wealthy family and demand a ransom. The money was to be thrown off a moving train at a designated point. The boys reluctantly concluded that the only way to avoid detection was to kill their victim, so he could provide no clues to the authorities. Darrow's closing statement spanned three days. Darrow's speech made a tremendous public impression. Judge Caverly took two weeks to prepare his decision. He was finally ready on September 10, 1924. In front of a packed courtroom he announced that he had decided against execution and sentenced the defendants instead to life imprisonment. ...read more.

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