Article Title

Book Review


Modern Trials. By Melvin M. Belli. Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1954. 2763 pp. $50.00

If the field of taxation has any rival for the title of being most written about, it must be that of procedure and trial practice. The art of persuasion is so all-pervasive in the law, and at the same time so subtle and elusive, that lawyers of all generations have been drawn to write about it as the flies are drawn to honey. The urge is no respecter of age—young and old have sought to solve the mysteries, and they remain unsolved. And these mysteries seem likely to remain so until our scientific brethren, the psychologists, have succeeded in delving much deeper into the problems of motivation and the reasons for human behavior.

It is therefore true that a new book in this field usually is approached with a good deal of skepticism, as something to be skimmed through without much hope of acquiring anything new beyond an anecdote or so for the next bar meeting. Such anecdotes you will find aplenty in Mr. Belli’s Modern Trials, but you will also find a great deal more. Not long ago one of my former students came to me and said that one of the real needs he felt was for new ways to prove various propositions. It is precisely in this area that Mr. Belli has the most to offer. He is, of course, primarily interested in showing how this can be done through the use of demonstrative techniques: pictures, maps, charts, models, illustrative drawings and real evidence. He gives literally hundreds of examples, themselves amply illustrated by photographs, of how these techniques can be used to explain the propositions which counsel is called upon to get across to the jury; and in particular he shows much that is new in photography and medicine.