Reversal of Fortune
In March, 1982, international socialite and Danish aristocrat Claus von Bulow was found guilty of attempting to murder his immensely wealthy, comatose wife, Sunny, at her palatial mansion, Clarendon Court, in Newport, Rhode Island, by insulin injection on two occasions, in December, 1979, and in December, 1980. Sentenced to thirty years in prison but granted one-million-dollar bail pending appeal, von Bulow hired the author as his new leading defense counsel. Dershowitz created a defense team which, by June, 1985, succeeded in securing a reversal of von Bulow’s conviction, a new trial, and an acquittal on both counts of assault with intent to murder.
The von Bulow case was the dream of the media. It had all the ingredients to catch the imagination of a public addicted to soap-opera excesses: fabulous wealth, sex, drugs, aristocracy, servants, and all the other accoutrements of the international jet set. It contained many features of the classic mystery, including a dramatic piece of evidence: an incriminating black bag containing drugs and a syringe with an insulin-encrusted needle.
Claus von Bulow’s conviction at his first trial was rendered with great assurance by a jury never allowed access to the notes of the private attorney of the victim’s family, Richard Kuh, and convinced by the inadequately challenged expert medical testimony provided by the prosecution. The prosecutor’s case, however, was too pat. The cleverness of the...
(The entire section is 434 words.)