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Famous Trials

Professor Doug Linder, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law

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These extensive primary- and secondary-source materials surround 50 court trials, primarily from American and European history. The trials range in date from Socrates in 399 BCE to the Moussaoui (9/11) Trial in 2006. Though most of the trials are drawn from U.S. history, quite a few are of interest for world historians, including: “Trial of Socrates” (399 BCE); “Trial of Jesus” (30 CE); “Trial of Galileo” (1633); “Amistad Trials” (1839-1840); “Dakota Conflict Trials” (1862); “Nuremberg Trials” (1945-1949); and “The My Lai Courts-Martial” (1970). Each trial site includes a 750-1000-word essay on the historical background of the case, links to biographies (roughly 500 words) of key figures, and approximately 15-25 primary documents related to each trial, including transcripts of testimony, media coverage, depositions, and government documents. Most cases also contain images, links to related websites, and a bibliography of scholarly works. A section on “Famous World Trials” provides outside links to information about 11 trials in world history. See especially “The Trial of Charles I” (1649), “The Dreyfus Affair” (1894, 1899), and “The Trial of Gandhi” (1922), but beware of dead links.

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