Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Friday, July 17, 1925
The farmers and laborers of Tennessee had come to the Scopes trial because they were curious about evolution or because they wanted fervid pageantry. Instead of a scientific lecture or a revival meeting, they had gotten mainly confusing wrangles about dull questions of legal procedure. Caring little about the outcome of the trial, they had no reason to stay. The speeches on Thursday afternoon, the expectation that Judge Raulston would rule the next morning on the propriety of scientific evidence, were not enough to hold them. On Friday the former swirling commotion on the courthouse lawn dwindled to a few small groups of bystanders.
- Ray Ginger, Six Days or Forever?
Court met for less than an hour on Friday, just enough time for the judge to rule out expert testimony but not quite long enough for him to cite Darrow for contempt. The two developments were related. From the start, Raulston sounded uncharacteristically defensive. He clearly wanted to hear the experts but felt pressure from state leaders who, fearing that such testimony would heap further ridicule on Tennessee and its law, pointedly had declared that the trial should be brief. The judge stumbled badly in reading his ruling, which adopted the prosecution's position precisely ...
Hays asked about submitting expert testimony to the court for the purpose of creating a record for appellate review. Raulston offered to let the experts either submit sworn affidavits or summarize their testimony for the court reporter. ...
Darrow requested the rest of the day to compose the witness statements. When Raulston questioned the need for so much time, Darrow exploded. "I do not understand why every request of the state and every suggestion of the prosection should meet with an endless waste of time, and a bare suggestion of anything on our part should be immediately over-ruled," he shouted. "I hope you do not mean to reflect upon the court?" Raulston demanded. Darrow tugged on his suspenders and carefully weighed his response. "Well, your honor has the right to hope," came the answer, with menacing emphasis on the final word. "I have the right to do something else, perhaps," the judge declared, but agreed to recess court until Monday so that the defense witnesses could prepare their statements.
"All that remains of the great cause of the State of Tennessee against the infidel Scopes is the final business of bumping off the defendant," Mencken wrote in his final report from Dayton. "There may be some legal jousting on Monday and some gaudy oratory on Tuesday, but the main battle is over, with Genesis completely triumphant." That was the general consensus on Saturday, as Mencken and dozens of other crack journalists departed Dayton just as Darrow plotted his comeback.
- Edward J. Larson, Summer for the Gods
Labels: Scopes Trial