Lot 49 of 202:
Lenny Bruce pleas to defend self at obscenity trial  

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Lot closed - unsold
Estimate:
$500 - $800

Title:
Letter from Lenny Bruce to Trial Judge John Murtagh, substituting himself as counsel in order to submit new evidence against the advice of his attorney
Author:
Bruce, Lenny
Place:
Los Angeles
Publisher:
Date:
September 10, 1964
Description:

13 leaves, mimeographed typescript on rectos only. Retained file copy, unsigned. 28x21.5 cm (11x8½"), stapled. 

Related to his April 1964 arrest at the Café Au Go Go, Greenwich Village, and subsequent trial for obscenity. Bruce writes to Judge John Murtagh, Presiding Magistrate of the New York Criminal Court.  Bruce has fired his attorney, Ephraim London, because he “withheld from the Court” some “very important evidence.” He then takes Judge Murtagh on a tour of Webster’s Third International Dictionary.  A lengthy missive for which certain passages could be construed as obscene themselves. Bruce had studied the meanings of each word in the list of “purple vocabulary” in the complaint against him and now discusses the distinctions between their literal meanings and their use in contemporary slang.  Since the First Amendment protects expression consistent with contemporary community standards, Bruce argues, it follows that public usage of slang words can never be obscene. 
 
 
This is not a customary legal brief filed with the Court. The letter is addressed directly to Judge Murtagh and was written several weeks after the close of testimony [but before his verdict.] We have found no references to this letter in any of the trial records and summaries available online nor published histories of the trial. [We have not examined the official court records in New York.]  A fascinating document.
 
Lot Amendments
Condition:
A bit darkened at top edge of first leaf; very good or better.
 
Item number:
304324
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