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Not My Favorite Episode
April 1, 2007 9:25 PM   Subscribe

Flamboyant San Francisco attorney Melvin Belli [warning: wants to be your favorite] was dubbed the "King of Torts" for redefining consumer rights and winning huge personal injury settlements. The first attorney to take on big tobacco, he represented victims of Bhopal Union Carbide, the Exxon Valdez, and KAL 007. His clients included Jack Ruby (pro bono), Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, and The Rolling Stones, and he was peripherally involved in the Zodiac Killer mystery. He may be best known as Gorgan from the Star Trek episode "And the Children Shall Lead".
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot (15 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Wait, did he just die? I'm confused...
posted by serazin at 9:29 PM on April 1, 2007


Omigod. Melvin Belli. I have dealt with Melvin Belli. Everything you have heard about him is true. And then some.
posted by unSane at 9:32 PM on April 1, 2007


Died in 1996.

The firm's website acts as if he's still alive.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:38 PM on April 1, 2007


That Gorgan character creeped me right out as a kid.
posted by vronsky at 9:42 PM on April 1, 2007


Agreed, vron, agreed.
posted by Dizzy at 9:46 PM on April 1, 2007


Love his scenes in Gimme Shelter, though, as he tries to negotiate a venue for the free concert.
posted by evilcolonel at 9:59 PM on April 1, 2007


TORTFEASORS BEWARE!
posted by delmoi at 11:48 PM on April 1, 2007


I seem to recall walking by his law firm and that his office was situated such that you could see him working inside. I was a kidling and my parents pointed it out during a visit.
posted by RavinDave at 11:51 PM on April 1, 2007


Melvin Belli was definitely the pre-eminent PI lawyer of his era.

But the King of Torts is Joe Jamail. You say "King of Torts" right now, and my suspicion is most attorneys in the business would think you are talking about Joe Jamail. I guess that designation is fluid; there was probably a "King of Torts" in 1890.

I've never saw Belli in action, but I've read about him enough that he definitely had mastered the skill of all great PI lawyers: he was an entertainer. The jury doesn't really care what the law is or who is right or wrong in the platonic sense. The jury just wants to be entertained and their have emotions moves. Belli was a master of that.
posted by dios at 4:50 AM on April 2, 2007


Huh. Melvin Belli on Star Trek -- who knew?

Metafilter: "As you believe, so shall you do."
posted by pax digita at 4:50 AM on April 2, 2007


I immediately thought of Joe Jamail too.

there was probably a "King of Torts" in 1890.

I have an image in my head of a courtroom scene in which suit is brought against Edison for introducing "the corrupt waves of the ether and malfeasance of vectorists" with his electric light bulb.
posted by geoff. at 6:45 AM on April 2, 2007


I love me some torts, especially the ones with strawberry and kiwi. Who knew that Melvin Belli was the king of those delectably taste-tempting snack treats?
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:54 AM on April 2, 2007


If I recall, he took on the Trek role because of his son, who played the oldest evil child (striped shirt?) and who wanted to get into acting. Somehow he made the deal and that included his participation as well.

If only the Internet was populated with the kind of people who really knew the details of Star Trek trivia.
posted by stevil at 8:03 AM on April 2, 2007 [1 favorite]


Great post, Chinese Jet Pilot. Thanks!

And I loved the fact that the law office web page tried to insert itself into my favorites list. How cheeky.
posted by overhauser at 8:40 AM on April 2, 2007


may be best known as gorgon? only if you've lived in a cave all your life watching star trek reruns.
posted by quonsar at 10:13 AM on April 2, 2007


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