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Entertainment & Sports

Jul. 3, 2024

California’s first celebrity lawyer

Earl Rogers, a legendary California trial lawyer, successfully defended numerous individuals in criminal prosecutions. Hiram Johnson once described Rogers as "the best trial lawyer this country has ever had." Despite his professional success, Rogers died alone and penniless at the age of 52 after a prolonged struggle with alcoholism.

John S. Caragozian


John is a Los Angeles-based lawyer and sits on the Board of the California Supreme Court Historical Society. He welcomes ideas for future monthly columns on California's legal history at


Earl Rogers is mostly forgotten, but, over a century ago, he became famous by successfully defending Californians—rich and poor—in scores of criminal prosecutions. Hiram Johnson, a contemporary of Rogers and later California’s governor, described Rogers as “the best trial lawyer this country has ever had.”

Rogers was born in 1869 in New York. He moved to California and read law in Los Angeles under Stephen White, a former U.S. Senator and ...

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