We love them, we hate them. If you’re a client, you really hate them. Or at least you should.
There are moments of high drama, but the vast majority of trials are as boring as watching grass grow. Even trials that attract the prurient interests of the public (think OJ or Spector), that force the world to watch with morbid fascination, are, for the most part, boring. Why do you think that Court TV shows only the “highlights”?
Nevertheless, if you take an important trial and boil it down to its essence – take out all the tedium, the voir dire, the endless sidebars and evidentiary disputes, the scientific/technical testimony that is often incomprehensible, the marginal witnesses that everyone in the courtroom dozes through — and leave just the heart of the the case, what remains can be fascinating.
Law Professor Douglas Linder has done just that at his site, Famous Trials.
There you can read about trials ranging from Socrates in 399 B.C., to the 9/11 trial of Zacarias Moussaoui in 2006.
As the trials move into the so-called modern era, the coverage expands in detail. The site contains many trial transcript excerpts, multimedia files, and more. It is truly a labor of love, and a service to the world. Or at least those few who are interested in this kind of stuff. Check it out here.