Leroy "Nicky" Barnes

In 1936 at age 79, Clarence Darrow wrote an article titled "Attorney for the Defense" for Esquire magazine in which he described how to pick a jury and the reasons for seating or rejecting prospective jurors based on ethnicity, class, religious beliefs and gender.

Darrow's article was cited in the appeal of a criminal trial that has been described as the first fully anonymous jury impaneled in the United States. This was the federal trial of a drug kingpin named Leroy "Nicky" Barnes in New York City. The court believed that the eleven defendants including Barnes, presented an unusually dangerous risk to the jurors and it took the extraordinary measure of hiding their identities. The defendants were convicted and appealed. On appeal they argued that they were denied due process because:

The district court's refusal to disclose petit jurors' identities, residence locales or ethnic backgrounds and the court's restrictive voir dire denied defendants due process." They also assert as reversible error the court's failure to inquire into the religion of each prospective juror. Using as their authority Clarence Darrow, who believed that a juror's "nationality, his business, religion, politics, social standing, family ties, friends, habits of life and thought; the books and newspapers he likes and reads . . . (even to his) method of speech, the kind of clothes he wears, the style of haircut . . .", were important subjects for questioning, they contended that the court's inquiry was unduly (to the point of reversal) restrictive. (Quoting Darrow, Attorney for the Defense, Esquire Magazine, May 1936).

Barnes was sentenced to life in prison but after he cooperated with the government this was reduced to 35 years and he was released from prison in 1998. Before his conviction Barnes came to be referred to as "Mr. Untouchable" and in 2007 he co-wrote his autobiography with that title. http://www.usdoj.gov/dea/pubs/history/1975-1980.html