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Melvin Mouron Belli was known affectionately by trial lawyers on the side of People as “The King of Torts.”  He had many celebrity clients and infamous ones like Jack Ruby, who shot Lee Harvey Oswald for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  He was born July 29, 1907, in Sonora, California (a California gold rush town) and died at the age of 88 in San Francisco.

His first major legal victory came soon after graduating law school, in a personal injury lawsuit representing an injured cable car gripman.  Over defense counsel’s objections, Belli brought a model of a cable car intersection, the gear box, and the chain involved in the incident to demonstrate to the jury what had happened.  He was involved as a founder of modern day consumer rights law.  He was the author of several books including Ready for the Plaintiff and a six-volume Modern Trials, which highlights his demonstrative method of presenting evidence.  He was a leader in the California plaintiffs’ bar, helping to establish the California Trial Lawyers Association, later renamed the Consumer Attorneys of California.

Founded in 1981, the Melvin M. Belli Society is a group of lawyers within the American Association for Justice who have distinguished themselves as trial lawyers and who are dedicated to the principles of education.  Lawyers would join by invitation only and after approval of the Board.  I am honored and proud to have been asked to become a member of this prestigious society this year and to be speaking at the 71st Annual Melvin M. Belli Seminar, July 6, 2018, on the topic David (Mittleman) v Goliath; Representing Survivors of Sexual Assault vs a Huge, Faceless Institution (MSU).

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