August 31, 2015

The Trial of Mendel Beilis

Vivian Grosswald Curran, University of Pittsburgh School of Law, has published At the Crossroads of Law and Society: The Trial of Mendel Beilis as University of Pittsburgh Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015-28. It is forthcoming in the Journal of Law and Literature. Here is the abstract.
The trial of Mendel Beilis lies at the crossroads of numerous points of interests. It reveals on one level the intensity of one man’s rise in an existential sense to the demands of a situation into which he was thrust suddenly and utterly without warning. From this perspective, it is a story of captivating human and psychological interest. The legal proceedings reflected a torn and complex society on the verge of implosion, as well as one in which the tsarist judicial system, although subject to corruption and fraud at the highest levels, nevertheless had a considerable measure of independence. The trial oscillated between a story of the failures and the triumphs of justice. Finally, the trial reflected and animated fierce anti-Semitism as well as unexpectedly dedicated and enlightened support for Beilis in the Christian world of Russia and beyond, with the incipient Russian Revolution as an important context. I try to illustrate these various intersecting points of interest with the assistance of sources such as the trial transcripts; Beilis’ memoirs; the memoirs of one of his defense lawyers, O.O. Gruzenberg; and Léon Poliakov’s analysis of anti-Semitism in Russia during that period.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

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