MELVIN M. BELLI, 1907-1996; Member of the Bar of California; Considered to be the "King of Torts"; Famed trial lawyer; Teacher and scholar; Wrote Modern Trials; Innovator of demonstrative evidence; Multiple verdicts in excess of a million dollars; Clients are legendary.
Famed international trial attorney Melvin M. Belli heads the law firm of Melvin M. Belli Sr., which operates law offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Stockton, San Diego, Pacific Grove, Santa Cruz, Santa Ana, Sacramento, California, an in the nations capital-Washington, D.C.
Born July 29 1907, in Sonora, California of a pioneer family, Belli's forebearers were early California bankers and educators. His grandfather, Henry Mouron, was an educator and a headmaster of some of California's first schools. Anna Mouron, his grandmother, was California's first woman druggist. His father Caeser Belli, was a well known banker in the State's Mother Lode region, and friend to Bank of America's founder A. P. Gianini.
After graduating from the University of California Boalt School of Law, in 1933, Belli assumed the role of an indigent by working for the Federal Government. Traveling by boxcar he wrote a report on the Depression's effects on the vagrant population of the United States. His report was used as the basis for transient relief programs throughout the nation.
Belli, admitted to the California Bar in 1933, began his career as the counsel for the Catholic priest of San Quentin Prison. Belli took up the challenging task of defending men already condemned to die. Since that first case, Belli continues to make an impact in both criminal and civil cases.
Melvin M. Belli's cases have, over the years, drawn media attention. Some of his famous clients include: Jack Ruby, on trial in 1964 in Dallas, for the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald; and the "Angel of Death,'' the Nevada nurse accused of murdering patients. Hollywood stars have also called upon Belli's talents. Stars included notables like Mae West, Errol Flynn, Tony Curtis, and Lenny Bruce. Belli has also represented Martha Mitchell, Lana Turner, and The Rolling Stones. Other of Belli's clients involved in some of the spectacular and tragic cases that have hit the headlines over the years: The Korean Jetliner disaster; The MGM Grand Hotel fire in Las Vegas; The collapse of the Kansas City Hyatt Walkway; The Bendectin birth defect cases; and the Bhopal/Union Carbide isocyanate gas disaster.
However, Belli is better known for defending the "rights of the individual." His work in representing victims of personal injury and in raising personal injury awards to a new level has earned him the title "The King Of Torts," bestowed on him by LIFE Magazine in 1954.
"The Father Of Demonstrative Evidence," as he is also called, has changed the courtroom with his innovations. Among them include: The concept of the "Adequate Award;" The development of the opening statement; The use of "Day in the Life" films to graphically show the life of a victim; Aerial photography; and the use of economist techniques.
Belli is a founder and former president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA) founder and dean of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, on the Board of Directors of the Barristers Club, Provost of the Belli Society, and the author of sixtytwo (62) books on civil and criminal trial procedures including the famed five volume "MODERN TRIALS."
The name of Melvin M. Belli is on the permanent list of this country's fabled lawyers. At the age of 78 when most men are content with reflecting upon past accomplishments, Melvin M. Belli continues to press toward the challenges of the 1980's. He is currently involved in cases concerning such modem dilemmas such as computer piracy and cable television rights. Though the times and trials have changed, Melvin Belli still makes history and sets precedents in the courts.
Famed international lawyer Melvin M. Belli heads the law firm of Melvin M. Belli Sr., which operates law offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Santa Ana, Stockton, San Diego, Sacramento, Pacific Grove and Santa Cruz. Belli is widely known as a pioneer and a pacesetter among attorneys. His inventiveness in the courtroom has made him one of the most imitated and influential lawyers in the world. However, above all, Melvin Belli has been blessed with a hunger for excellence and a mind for innovation. These qualities have allowed him to rise to the top of his profession, and have allowed him to bring the law profession to a new level.
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