People v. State

fairly undermining public confidence in the administration of justice
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Has Gerry Spence ever lost a criminal case? You be the judge.

May 22, 2010 By: John Kindley Category: Uncategorized

Gerry Spence claims on his website to have “never lost a criminal case either as a prosecutor or a defense attorney.” Of course, there was the little matter of the criminal case he prosecuted against Ernest Newton, described by Spence in his autobiography The Making of a Country Lawyer at page 329. The jury acquitted Mr. Newton of ten counts but did convict him of the eleventh. However, the appellate court overturned even that count, in what our hero implied was a “frivolous, flighty, featherbrained decision[] clothed in high-sounding language,” on the grounds that the trial court didn’t have jurisdiction over the case pursuant to the indictment Spence had obtained from a grand jury. Oops. According to Spence, he decided then to end his career as a prosecutor as a result of the “pain of seeing that man endure” what Spence had put him through. But the apparent defeat handed Spence by the combined judgment of the jury and appellate court appears from his autobiography to pain him more. What about his vaunted spotless record in criminal cases?! But maybe Spence doesn’t count this case as a loss because, since the trial court was without jurisdiction in the first place, it’s like it never even happened.

And then there was the other little matter of the three week bench trial in an Oregon juvenile court after which the judge found that the state had proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Spence’s client, Michael Jones, Jr., was guilty of acts which, had he been an adult, would have constituted manslaughter in the first degree. Granted, the Oregon court of appeals subsequently reversed the trial court’s finding, concluding that the state had failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

So when Spence claims to have never lost a criminal case, either as a prosecutor or a defense attorney, maybe he’s only referring to the love shown him by juries, and not to the complications in his win-loss record introduced by those pesky judges (though the claim on his website doesn’t make that distinction). But even then, didn’t the jury in the Newton case acquit the man Spence was prosecuting on 10 out of the 11 counts Spence had charged? It appears therefore that Spence suffered 10 real losses at the hands of a jury in that criminal case alone, especially since, as Spence observed in The Making of a Country Lawyer, “With all the power prosecutors possess, they ought not lose cases. The wrong case, the unjust case should be rejected in the prosecutor’s office before he seeks an indictment.” If Gerry Spence counts as a win for the prosecution any case in which the defendant is convicted of anything, then I guess I can’t count this case I tried before a jury as a win, even though there was never really any doubt that my client was guilty of and would have pled to the misdemeanors the jury convicted him of (battery and driving while intoxicated), and even though both my client and the prosecutor viewed the felony domestic battery count as the heart of the case and the jury’s acquittal thereon as an unmitigated win for the defense.

And let’s not forget Spence’s loss at the hands of Vincent Bugliosi, who successfully persuaded a Dallas jury beyond a reasonable doubt that Spence’s client, Lee Harvey Oswald, had assassinated John F. Kennedy.

3 Comments to “Has Gerry Spence ever lost a criminal case? You be the judge.”


  1. You know, you might be right, but did you ever bother to ask Gerry Spence why he makes such a claim in light of what your research has revealed? And is cherry-picking, that is, deciding who you will represent and who you will not represent ever come to play in this equation. As a prosecutor, I’m sure Spence had no choice in who he had to prosecute. As a defense lawyer, he could turn down clients he felt were guilty, not worthy, could not pay him, did not like, or liked but knew the person had a losing case that would tarnish his impeccable record.

    Spence is nonetheless a great lawyer and no one, not even Spence, is perfect. It’s nice to know that there are individuals like yourself out there who have the time and enthusiasm to research these types of claims. I’m sure you burst many of bubbles on this here issue.

    Gustavo Diaz
    Criminal Defense Lawyer
    Lancaster, California

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  2. SHAMROCK CENTURION says:

    As for me and my house, I not only think that Vincent Bugliosi is a classic bloviator, but that he’s perhaps well outdone by the “Aw Shucks” baloney Gerry Spence has perfected in his careers as prosecutor and defense attorney.

    Be that as it may, though, Gerry Spence did not lose a criminal trial relating to Lee Harvey Oswald.

    That was, anyone with a brain knows, a television production by the pay TV network SHOWTIME with no formal indictment, no opportunity for the accused to assist in his own defense and had absolutely no formal status and/or weight of law, since, among other things, it was held by a “court” with no legal standing in a purely theatrical setting and for a theatrical purpose, filmed not in a court anywhere in the United States, but in London England:

    “A real sworn-in jury of twelve Dallas citizens was flown to London,
    England, to sit in judgment of the man whom the Warren Commission (22
    years earlier) had deemed guilty of killing President Kennedy and
    Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit on November 22, 1963.”

    So, not only was it not a bona fide trial, it wasn’t even held in the US, but on a sound stage in London, to which paid prosecutors, defense staff members, witnesses and jurors were sent for a five or so month vacation and paid to be part of the theatrical production

    So, I think Spence is full of baloney, but he sure lost no case there any more than an argument he lost yesterday in a bar or on Oprah Winfrey or Fox or CNN news shows constitute losing a case as a trial lawyer on either side of an indictment and case at bar!

    True …

    … Story!

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  3. Gerry Spence played the bafoon in the Lee h. Oswald muck-u drama trial,while vince Bugliosi was serious, prepared & professional. Spence let down those who felt “some kind of conspiracy” took place in the JFK assiassination. Spence provided no real testimony or content, to prove his case & left it only try to shoot holes in Bugliosi’s case & that unsuccessfully,in bungling fashion & gave every apearance of being woefully unprepared. He said “only Vince could have done that” ! I’m not even a lawyer, but watching it on internet I’d have felt confident taking on Gerry Spence in that mock Trial. The difference between the two lawyers was night & day, with Spence coming accross as a phony,incompetent & Bugliose as his superior; fully prepared, serious professional lawyer.

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