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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions

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Glenn Altschuler and Faust Rossi recount news-making court cases of the twentieth century in Ten Great American Trials

School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions, October 20, 2016

Ten of the most dramatic and controversial trials of the past century receive close and thoughtful examination in a new book, Ten Great American Trials: Lessons in Advocacy, published by the American Bar Association and authored by Cornell University luminaries Glenn C. Altschuler and Faust F. Rossi.

Altschuler, dean of Cornell’s School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions and the Thomas and Dorothy Litwin Professor of American Studies, and Rossi, the Samuel S. Leibowitz Emeritus Professor of Trial Techniques for the Cornell Law School, based the book on research they did for the weeklong course they co-taught every other summer for more than a decade for Cornell's Adult University.

Altschuler writes, "We prepared lectures on about sixty courtroom cases, thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and responded enthusiastically to the suggestion made by Kevin Clermont, Faust's colleague on the Cornell Law School, that we turn ten of our trials into a book."

The result is a thought-provoking, intellectually invigorating, and entertaining exploration of ten of the most highly publicized trials ever heard in U.S. courtrooms, including those of Sacco and Vanzetti, Skokie vs. the National Socialist Party of America, Claus von Bülow, and O. J. Simpson, and covering a range of issues from free speech to xenophobia, racism to child abuse.

Some of the trials had far-reaching effects (such as the extension of defendants' due process rights), and some raise questions about the role of the media in affecting outcomes. In each narrative, Altschuler and Rossi analyze the use of trial advocacy techniques while assessing the impact of cultural, social, and political values on the proceedings.

"Ten Great American Trials is a must-read," writes network news anchor Kate Snow. "Altschuler and Rossi write about cases that made the world stand still with both captivating detail and sophisticated simplicity. In these pages they provide relevant, eye-opening insight into America's justice system and ask provocative questions about the evolution of our culture, beliefs, and behavior."

For further information about the book or for interviews with the authors, please contact Beth Beach, senior assistant to Dean Altschuler, at eh85@cornell.edu.