Earl Rogers (Earl Rogers)

Earl Rogers

Attorney.  One of the most famous criminal defense lawyers of his day.  His flamboyant courtroom antics and memory for detail won over jurors despite overwhelming evidence against his clients.  A popular saying of the time went,  “If you are guilty,  hire Earl Rogers”.  Born near Buffalo,  New York,  he was the son of a Methodist minister who settled in Los Angeles in the mid-1870s.  After a short stint as a journalist he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1897.  Although he preferred civil law,  he found that trying criminal cases appealed to the actor in him.  Rogers first won fame in 1899 for successfully defending William Alford,  who had been accused in the shooting death of a prominent local attorney;  he had the victim’s internal organs brought into court to prove his theories about the bullet’s trajectory.  He went on to score 183 acquittals out of 202 cases.  His famous clients included real estate tycoon  Griffith J. Griffith,  accused of trying to murder his wife in 1903 (he got Griffith a light sentence,  arguing diminished mental capacity);  famed attorney  Clarence Darrow,  indicted for jury-tampering in 1912;  and Los Angeles Police Chief (and later Mayor)  Charles E. Sebastian,  whom he cleared of morals charges in 1915.  But Rogers’ brilliant career was hampered and eventually ruined by alcoholism.  He died at 52,  broke and alone in a Los Angeles boarding house.   Earl Stanley Gardner reportedly modeled his fictional character Perry Mason after him,  and actor Lionel Barrymore won an Oscar for playing a drunken lawyer based on Rogers in “A Free Soul” (1931).  His daughter,  journalist and author  Adela Rogers St. Johns,  wrote the screenplay for that film and later penned his biography,  “Final Verdict” (1962). (bio by: Bobb Edwards)  Family links:  Parents:  Lowell Lyman Rogers (1838 – 1901)  Adela Ada Andrus Rogers (1840 – 1932)  Spouses:  Belle Hazel Green Rogers (1872 – 1944)*  Edna Irene Landers Rogers (1889 – 1919)*  Children:  Nora Adela Rogers St. Johns (1894 – 1988)*  Bogart Rogers (1897 – 1966)*  Thornwell Rogers (1910 – 1945)*  Bryson Rogers (1911 – 1994)*  Siblings:  Earl Rogers (1869 – 1922)  Blanche Rogers Lott (1871 – 1940)*  Madge Rogers Jackson (1876 – 1959)* *Calculated relationship


  • November, 18, 1869
  • USA


  • February, 02, 1922
  • USA


  • Evergreen Cemetery
  • California
  • USA

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