George Reilly

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


This thesis is undertaken for the purpose of analyzing the invention and disposition of two summation court pleas of Clarence Darrow. The study will attempt to answer two major questions: (1) What were Darrow’s methods of invention and disposition in these summation pleas? What was the effect of those methods on the court decisions? The writer hopes in the study to discover what features of Darrow’s invention and disposition contributed to his effectiveness. By invention the writer refers to the evidence and reasoning which Darrow employed in the summation pleas, while disposition refers to the manner of organization of the materials in the summation pleas. In one of the cases selected for study the jury rendered a verdict favorable to Darrow’s client; in the other case the jury voted against his client. By studying the methods of invention and disposition in these cases and by comparing the methods employed the writer hopes to determine whether there were significant differences in methods. Such possible differences may help to account for victory and defeat in the two summation pleas and enable the writer to make inferences as to the limits by which a speaker must be bound to support successfully a summation plea.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Darrow, Clarence, 1857-1938 -- Oratory
Forensic oratory


Includes bibliographical references



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University