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The Tale of the Cigar-Ash Trick

The Tale of the Cigar-Ash Trick
Karl – Smokers Discounts
November 12, 2019

There is a tale that dates back a century ago, that could be fact or possibly fiction (we’ll leave it up to you to decide) about the famed defense attorney Clarence Darrow. You see Darrow was known as a man of “wicked zest and mordant humor,” by the New York Times. His eloquence and wit made him one of the most prominent attorneys and civil libertarians of the early 20th century. Darrow was known to take on many high-profile clients, and he defended many unpopular personages over his career including teacher John T. Scopes in the Scopes "Monkey" Trial in 1925. 


Now the Tale of Clarence Darrow’s infamous Cigar-Ash Trick has become one of legend. Try and picture being in a courtroom, where this renowned defense lawyer is calmly and quietly sitting back in his chair, one leg crossed over the other, casually puffing away at his cigar. He is listening intensely to the prosecution as he makes his case, all the while blowing huge clouds of smoke from across the table. Unbenounced to his opponent, Darrow has created an ever so slight diversion that is slowing drawing the attention of the jury away from his rival’s closing argument. Darrow had the idea to create an absurdly long ash on his cigar by carefully running a paper clip down the middle of the stogie which led to an enormously vast amount of ash build, thus mesmerizing the jurors and, of course, diverting their attention. This strategically placed wire trick became such a distraction as the jury became more and more drawn to see when the exact moment would come for the cigar ash to finally break off and fall all over his suit. Of course they were supposed to be paying attention to the summation, but that was the plan all along. The question is, did this strategy ultimately pay off for Clarence Darrow and did the Cigar-Ash Trick assist in helping him win his case?

Story inspiration:
Cecil Adams - straightdope.com

Jack Marshall - ethicsalarms.com
Mark L. Dembert - cigaraficionado.com

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