When Samuel S. Leibowitz, trial attorney, says that his client is not guilty, the jury, much more often than not, is inclined to concur and Mr. Client goes free. Even Al Capone, when he was at the beginning of his career, in the old Brooklyn days, had enough sense to engage Mr. Leibowitz, through whose tactics he won his liberty, and Mr. Leibowitz took a modest part in the gangster festivities which followed.
Gentlemen of the underworld have been Mr. Leibowitz’s chief clients, but although the world has not been aware of it, there is a streak of magnanimity in Mr. Leibowitz which was expressed recently when, at his own expense, he travelled southward to defend the Scottsboro Negroes and upon his return was hailed by the Negroes of Harlem as the race’s deliverer. More recently, he held himself in readiness to go to Leipzig, without pay, to defend the Communists who are being tried on the charge of having set fire to the Reichstag.
Fred D. Pasley, who once told the story of America’s greatest gangster, Al Capone, now safely behind lock and key, attempts to communicate something of the same excitement in his so-called biography of Mr. Leibowitz, titled “Not Guilty!” and published by Putnam’s. It is a newspaperish record of Mr. Leibowitz’s leading court victories and a description of his various techniques in winning over juries. The human interest which the book holds resides rather in Mr. Pasley’s records of the crimes for which Mr. Leibowitz’s clients were hauled up before the law. One is not even given any assurance that the accused for whom Mr. Leibowitz won acquittals did not commit the crimes with which they were charged; but one is compelled to admire the techniques by which Mr. Leibowitz achieved his victories.
We would be wrong to assume that Mr. Leibowitz represents the vilest form of court room cunning. He has, it must be confessed, that form of cunning, but he has shrewdness, intelligence, psychology, a sense of battle strategy, the ability to digest scientific information bearing on the case, and a sense o# theatre. Mr. Pasley’s first chapters, wherein is told the story of how Mr. Leibowitz won the acquittal of one Hoffman, projects the best qualities of Mr. Leibowitz as an investigator, psychologist and reasoner on the basis of scientific data, in court room action. I do not believe this book has any general interest, but I do believe that lawyers who have not followed closely the cases in which Mr. Leibowitz has appeared may want to read this forâ€”the Leibowitz technique.
BOLITHO GOES TO PALESTINE
It would be a clear case of injustice to criticize or doubt the sincerity of a man’s emotions, or question the veracity of his instincts. Emotions and instincts are generally beyond control, born with the man himself, rooted in his heart. Hector Bolitho declares with admirable frankness that his aversion for Jews is never out of his consciousness, in “Beside Galilee” just issued by D. Appleton-Century Company. He writes:
“To say that one has a prejudice against the Jew is a confession of which one should be ashamed. Prejudices are a paltry affection. But when one knows that this antipahty grows out of an instinct, one is frightened, because it seems then to be stronger than oneself or any intellectual effort one can make towards a change.”
The book purports to be the diary of Mr. Bolitho written during his stay in Palestine. It is not a lengthy book. There are fourteen chapters, each a delightful performance in literary art, succeeding each other naturally and progressively and with increasing joy for readers. The poetry of the Holy Land, its wonders, aroused in Mr. Bolitho a passionate love of life and beauty. To read his book is not unlike accompanying him beside Galilee, to the farm by Gideon’s Well, along the walls of ancient temples and in Joachim’s house.
Not even the assertions in this book that Palestine is doomed as a homeland for the Jews, that the British mandate is contested both by Arabs and Englishmen, that a non-Jew “instinctively” despises a Jew, can detract much from the sum of enjoyment it gives.
The trip to the Holy Land was made expressly by Mr. Bolitho to combat his “inherited” dislike of the Jews. He noted there the changes which have transformed the land from an arid desert into something remotely resembling modern civilization. He talked with Arabs and with Jews a little over-enthusiastic about their hopeful settlements along the shore of the Mediterranean.
There is a splendid effort here to dispel, to destroy, anti-Semitism, to wrest it from a soil nurtured by years of ancestral Jew hatred. Of no avail. The book gives away the author, for he can write. “Zionism is a nightmare”, “Tel Aviv is a sad blunder aesthetically”, “the vigor of Jewish agitation makes me tired”.
The book is nevertheless important. Jews everywhere should make it a personal obligation to know its contents.