Since First Monday, October 1, 2001, the collection has been on display at the Darling Trial Court room at Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, California. The public is invited to view the collection by prior arrangement by calling the school, or email:

This collection of collages adorns the walls of my courtroom in Santa Maria. It creates a window into American history through the lens of litigation that constitutes great trials of historic proportion. Use the trial as a base from which to make day trips into American history to explore American society at the time of the event.

Each collage has a signature of the lawyer involved: Real people who faced very real adversarial proceedings to protect their client's interests. At times, the lawyer's integrity -- dedication to the law, courage in the face of societal pressure against the cause or their client, and forensic (trial) skills were remarkable examples of the best this or any profession has to offer.

Also in the collages are authentic, original newspapers describing the event or trial; and, when available, portraits of the lawyers and copies of paintings of the trial or event. For the most part, the collages are not in my words, but come from history books written about the subject.

Altogether the project was created to inspire the lawyers who practice in our courts, the litigants and the jurors and other members of the public who visit my courtroom. The message is simple: The law can be, as one criminal defense lawyer said in summation, a "noble profession".

Here are the stories, then, of lawyers who took up the cause of their clients in adverse circumstances and used their talents and skills to achieve what seemed just at the time. Let us hope there will always be learned men and women of the profession that will rise to the challenges.

-Zel Canter, Judge of the Superior Court, County of Santa Barbara, Santa Maria Branch, 312 East Cook Street, Santa Maria, CA 93454
This collection appeared on C-SPAN in February of 1998; copies are available: Call 1-877-ONCSPAN, Famous U.S. Trials, ID No. 101139
Judge Canter can be contacted at

Click on any trial below for more information.

The Scopes "Monkey" Trial

The Army/McCarthy Hearings


The Trial of Eugene V. Debs


The Amistad Mutineers Trial

The Trial of John Peter Zenger


The Fair Trial: The Boston Massacre


The Trial of Harry Croswell



1692 The Salem Witch Trials (the practice of law was prohibited in 17th Century Massachusetts) Contains London Gazette with advertisement For Cotton Mather's book on witch trials
Trial of John Peter Zenger--Andrew Hamilton defends Freedom of the Press
Writs of Assistance Case--James Otis argues to require Search Warrants be issued upon Oath and Describe Particular Premises and Goods (precursor of the 4th         Amendment)
The Parson's Cause The War Debts Case (1791)--Patrick Henry establishes himself as one of leading lawyers of his time
1770 The Boston Massacre--John Adams defends the British Soldiers in hostile circumstances
1776 Ode to The Signers--George Walton, Judge of Georgia Supreme Court is one of 24 lawyers and jurists of the 55 Signers of The Declaration of Independence
1780 Courts Martial of Major Andre--John Laurance prosecutes Benedict Arnold's British contact
1781 Quock Walker Trials--Levi Lincoln and Caleb Strong help end slavery in Massachusetts through "freedom" suits
1800 Alien & Sedition Act Trials--Alexander James Dallas defends editor William Duane in one of the prosecutions that brought down the Federalist party
1803 Marbury v. Madison--John Marshall creates Judicial Supremacy
1804 Trial of Harry Croswell--Alexander Hamilton defends a Federalist editor and Judge James Kent's opinion becomes part of the Constitution of New York, guarantying Freedom of the Press
1805 Impeachment of Justice Samuel Chase--Jefferson's war on the Judiciary over Marbury v. Madison is thwarted by Luther Martin, Joseph Hopkinson, Philip Barton Key, and Robert Goodloe Harper
1805 Impeachment of Pennsylvania Justices--Alexander James Dallas defends Federalist Supreme Court Justices and Hugh Henry Brackenridge Republican justice who joined his colleages
1839 The Amistad Mutineers Trial--John Quincy Adams defends the slaves who took over the slave ship
1857 The Dred Scott Case--Montgomery Blair defends the slave in the case that hastened the beginning of the Civil War
1858 Duff Armstrong Trial-- Lincoln defends a murder case (signature only of his last law partner, William Herndon)
1859 Trial of Dan Sickles--Edwin Stanton defends with a defense of Temporary Insanity (engineered by James Topham Brady) in a case of First Impression
1861 In re Merryman--Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, expecting to be jailed, issues Habeas Corpus which Lincoln had suspended


Courts Martial of Fitz-John Porter--Joseph Choate reverses the cashering of Porter who was wrongly accused
1868 Impeachment of President Andrew Johnson--William Pitt Fessenden and 6 other Republicans bolt the party line, save the Presidency, and sacrifice their political careers
1878 Trial of "Boss"Tweed--Charles O'Conor prosecutes the Tweed Ring civilly, breaking the Ring's bank
1893 Trial of Lizzie Borden--George Robinson defends "The Trial of the Century" and acquits Lizzie Borden
1895 Trial of Eugene Debs--Clarence Darrow defends the labor leader when President Cleveland sends in troops in the Pullman strike in contravention of the Constitution; Lyman Trumbull aids in defense
1907 Trials of Harry Thaw--William Travers Jerome prosecutes the slayer of the architect of Madison Square Garden over "The Girl In The Red Velvet Swing"; continues in the subsequent sanity trials
1925 The Scopes Trial--Clarence Darrow defends a school teacher accused of teaching evolution--the famous "Monkey Trial"
The Army/McCarthy Hearings--Joseph Nye Welch defends the Army against charges of communist infiltration and exposes McCarthy

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Santa Ynez Valley Union High School