September 30, 2006
I just came across your famous trials homepage and read with great interest about the trial of Loeb and Leopold. As a young medical graduate in 1958, I had the pleasure of serving for two years as medical director of the Castañer General Hospital in Castañer, Puerto Rico, with Nathan Leopold as my lab and x-ray assistant. I lived next door to Nate and both read his book as well as several other books about the trial. I remained (somewhat) in contact with him after he and I left Castañer.
I read with amazement on your website the comments of several conspiracy buffs who apparently believe that the charges were trumped up, that Darrow received huge amounts of money, etc., etc., and really wonder how people can be so gullible in the face of overwhelming evidence that the two youths were guilty.
During my two years as Nate's next door neighbor and work associate I came to know him quite well and had a very high regard for his abilities. None of us at the project ever had any difficulties with him and while he would not discuss the crime itself, he never gave the slightest indication that the crime did not occur, i.e., that he was innocent. At one time he talked about his intention to write a book entitled, "Snatch for a Halo," about his life following prison, but all of us thought that this was a very inappropriate title under the circumstances. As another anecdote, when Nate wished to block the movie "Compulsion" on the grounds of invasion of privacy, defamation, and making money off of his life story, I consulted my father, Livingston Hall, then vice dean of the Harvard Law school. His fast reply was that Nate did not have a leg to stand on; there is no way that you can defame a convicted murderer, especially one of such a heinous crime.
Among the many anecdotes my father told us over the years was that of his own father, James Parker Hall, then dean of the new University of Chicago Law school, who in 1924 was teaching constitutional law to a student by the name of Nathan Leopold. Reportedly Nate took his final exam in my grandfather's class during the week between the murder and his capture, at the time he was under suspicion because of the eyeglasses found near the culvert where Bobby Franks had been hidden. Despite the pressure and publicity, Nate got an "A" in the exam. As you know he had recently been accepted for admission to HLS..
Thank you for your efforts in bringing to the attention of the public these famous trials and helping us layperson understand better the workings of the law.
Thomas L. Hall, MD, DrPH
Dept. of Epidemiology & Biostatistics
UCSF School of Medicine, and Global Health Education Consortium