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The Trial of the Century

March 14, 2016

With The People vs. O.J. Simpson currently airing, we’re reminded of how the televised criminal case against the popular football player and actor was labeled “the trial of the century.” Guess what else the media dubbed the “trial of the century”? Lots of other high profile trials. Here are a few.
Sketch of President McKinley Assassination
On Sept. 6, 1901, a steel worker named Leon Czolgosz who had lost his job and become involved with the anarchist political movement, shot President William McKinley at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo. Czolgosz was quickly mobbed by a crowd and arrested; McKinley died eight days later. It would be the first presidential assassination trial of the 20th century (and the last). Czolgosz’s court-appointed lawyers had a hard time mounting a defense, due to the many eyewitnsses…and Czolgosz’s refusal to speak. The defense was more about keeping the defendant out of the electric chair; the prosecution put anarchy on trial, calling it out as a dangerous political movement (one that had, after all, led to a presidential assassination). Despite a plea of insanity, Czolgosz was found guilty after just an hour of jury deliberations. On Oct. 29, he was put to death in the electric chair.
Lindbergh Baby PosterIn 1932, Charles Lindbergh, Jr., the infant son of famed aviator Charles Lindbergh, was kidnapped. Two months later, the child was found, dead. It took police two years to find a suspect, an illegal German immigrant carpenter named Richard Hauptmann, who was found to be in possession of a gold certificate that had been used to pay the $50,000 ransom demand. His trial was also called the “Trial of the Century” due to the celebrity element and salacious nature of the crime. Hauptman was found guilty, and was sent to the electric chair in 1936.
Even before the 1919 World Series started, there were rumors that some players on the Chicago White Sox had accepted money from gamblers to throw the games. After rumors of gambling and corruption faced many teams throughout the 1920 season, an investigation was convened. A grand jury was called for another “Trial of the Century.” This time, eight players (including two who confessed) from the White Sox were accused of fixing the World Series. However, the crime the players were tried for was “defrauding the public” and not “fixing games.” Essentially a technicality, the players were all found not guilty. However, in the baseball world, all eight were banned from baseball for the rest of their lives.
Group Shot of 1919 White Sox

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Trevor
Trevor
March 15, 2016 6:57 am

The big difference between those and Simpson’s trial: O.J. Simpson didn’t get the electric chair.

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