Lawyers attending famed attorney Gerry Spence's college this month plan to try the O.J. Simpson case.
About 50 young attorneys and up to 25 of the nation's noted trial lawyers will stay at Spence's ranch near Dubois, Wyo., during a Trial Lawyers College that Spence hopes will "train great lawyers for the people."Attorneys gathered at Spence's ranch Monday for the start of the monthlong college, which will include discussions about courtroom practice and some creative exercises in painting and poetry, he said.
There also will be four mock trials, in which attorneys will play roles of prosecutors, judges and jurors. The first trial will be the Simpson case, Spence said.
"It's current and everyone knows of it. It's an intriguing case and it's interesting," Spence said from his office in Jackson, Wyo.
Spence, 65, has built a national reputation for his successful defenses over the years of such clients as Imelda Marcos and Randy Weaver, who was acquitted last year of murder and conspiracy charges. An Idaho jury cleared Weaver in the death of a deputy U.S. marshal after federal authorities surrounded his remote home.
Spence was approached by Simpson's principal attorney, Robert Shapiro, about joining other luminaries on the defense team for the former football great.
He said he met two weeks ago with Shapiro in Los Angeles, but decided not to sign on "because it would have been hard for me to take on responsibility of the case without having the total control."
"On a ship, you have lots of crew members, but only one captain. If you have a lot of captains trying to man the wheel, the ship runs aground," he said.
Author of a half-dozen books, Spence also said he needed to focus his attention for the next month on his unusual school.
Veteran lawyers who will lead sessions at the ranch have volunteered their time, as has Spence. He estimated the cost of attending the school to be about $3,000. Participants will stay at his sprawling ranch.
Spence believes the nation's law schools do not teach real courtroom skills to young lawyers, who are forced to learn on the job.