Clarence Darrow: Crimes, Causes and the Courtroom

6 User Reviews

Length: 3.25 Hours

CLE Credits: 3 to 3.6 Ethics (Depends on 50 or 60 Min State)

Approved in: AK, AZ, CA, ME, MN, MO, MT, NE, NH, NC, OK, OR, PA, TN, UT, VT, WA, WY; CO and NJ via Reciprocity


Written by Anna Marie Thatcher, J.D. and Graham Thatcher, Ph.D.

A master of the courtroom stage, who possessed an uncanny understanding of human character, Clarence Darrow was arguably the greatest trial lawyer of the twentieth century. He was an adamant opponent of capital punishment and a passionate proponent of civil and human rights. Often called the "Attorney for the Damned," he fought for the underdog and took on criminal cases thought to be hopeless. Yet, while commanding respect as a trial lawyer, Darrow was often embroiled in bitter controversy for his unpopular stands on many issues and criticized for his purported unethical professional behavior.  This spellbinding and realistic character portrait of Darrow portrays his deeply held beliefs and hard fought courtroom battles. Replete with humor, humanity and intense courtroom drama, the movie engages attendees in four of the great defense lawyer's most famous cases between 1910 and 1928:  Loeb and Leopold,  Henry Sweet, the McNamara Brothers bombing of the LA Times Building and the Scopes "Monkey Trial." Using Darrow's own thoughts and courtroom summations, the movie explores timeless social, legal and ethical issues and provides a fresh and engaging tool to facilitate discussion of ethical behavior in and out of the courtroom.

Produced By:

Periaktos Productions L.L.C.


  • Charles "Charlie" Abourezk, Partner, Abourezk Law Firm (Rapid City, SD)
  • Alicia Garcia, Partner, Abourezk & Garcia (Rapid City, SD)
  • Graham Thatcher, Ph.D.
    • GRAHAM THATCHER, who portrays Clarence Darrow, is the Artistic Director and primary performer for Periaktos Productions. Since appearing in his first acting role at five years of age, Graham has performed in or directed over 150 community, university and professional theatre productions. He is the co-author and solo performer in Clarence Darrow: Crimes, Causes and the Courtroom, Maxims, Monarchy and Sir Thomas More and Impeach Justice Douglas!, the live CLE Theatre programs and CLE movies of the same titles presented by Periaktos Productions. He is the co-author and director of Thurgood Marshall’s Coming!, also from Periaktos Productions. Graham has authored several other plays, including A Dickens Christmas and The Mask of the Jaguar, about the cultural clash between the Maya and Europeans during the Spanish Conquest, and works on commission. Graham also serves as a workshop facilitator and consultant in communications and is the creator and facilitator of the Continuing Legal Education programs, “Word of Mouth: A Workshop in the Art and Ethics of Oral Communication for Lawyers” and “The Art of the Law: A Workshop in Professionalism for Lawyers,” for law schools and legal associations. He holds a B.A. from San Francisco State University, an M.A. in Theatre from the University of South Dakota and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Minnesota. He has been listed in Who's Who in American Education and Outstanding American Educators and is a recipient of the Governor's Award from the Minnesota Council on Quality.

  • John M. Stuart, Retired State Public Defender (Minneapolis, MN)
  • Barry R. Vickrey, Professor of Ethics and Former Dean of the University of South Dakota School of Law (Vermillion, SD)

Course Materials


6 User Reviews

"The film was great - provided discussion of several important cases in Darrow's life. Graham Thatcher's portrayal of Darrow is excellent. The discussion that follows is also very good, and people are able to type in questions in real time - very interesting for those watching as well. A different kind of CLE. Enjoyed it very much and got the credit, too."
— Anonymous

"This was the best CLE I've seen in 15 years of practicing. Not only was it entertaining (I truly felt as though it WAS Darrow speaking - that's how good the acting is)... this CLE addressed numerous ethical issues in a very practical manner. I would highly recommend this program to all attorneys... and I'm hoping to convince my boss to let me attend more. If not, I may very well pay for them on my own. Well done!"
— Terri B.

— Anonymous

"On the positive side, it wasn't the worst 3 hour CLE I've attended. However, I won't rush back for other offerings. I expected some balance and counterpoints, but the program was largely about Darrow's political beliefs with little about confronting issues of legal ethics. The portion of panel discussion I was able to view followed the same formula. From a purely techical perspective, the audio EQ was horrible. If I turned the volume loud enough to hear the softer parts, I would have annoyed my neighbors. I made all of the adjustments I could make on mide side, but none helped."
— Derek W.

"As usual, I waited until the last minute to earn CLE credits, thus I signed up for 3 of your presentations I'm glad my procrastination served me so well because these wqere among the best CLE's I've seen in 35+ years of practice, and reasonably priced, at that. I so often feel that the programs offered by my state's bar are primarily money grabs. PLEASE offer many more programs in the coming year. My only "cons" are that your sound could be better. Although understandable, it lacked a certain clarity. And elevator music would be an improvement over the little ditty you play while waiting for the program to begin."
— Jayann W.

— Brent K.