Born, reared, and educated in Wyoming, Gerry Spence is recognized nationwide for his legacy of dominant courtroom victories. He graduated cum laude from the University of Wyoming Law School in 1952 and has spent his lifetime representing the poor, the injured, the forgotten, and the damned against what he calls “the new slave master,” a combination of mammoth corporations and gargantuan government.
He has tried and won many nationally known cases, including the Karen Silkwood case (a movie was made of the situation with Meryl Streep and Cher,); the defense of Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge; the protection of Imelda Marcos; the case against “Penthouse Magazine” for Miss Wyoming; and the murder defenses of Ed Cantrell and Sandy Jones. In 2008 in a politically charged case brought by the Justice Department in Michigan against attorney Geoffrey Fieger, Spence won complete acquittals for his client on a ten-count indictment alleging federal campaign contribution violations, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice. Spence represented Brandon Mayfield, a modest Oregon attorney, against the United States in which Spence was instrumental in obtaining a federal court to hold the Patriot Act unconstitutional. He has never lost a criminal case either as a prosecutor or a defense attorney. He has not lost civil litigation since 1969. He has had more multi-million dollar verdicts without an intervening loss than any lawyer in America.
Spence is the founder of the nationally acclaimed Trial Lawyers College, which established a revolutionary method for training lawyers for the people. He believes that what he has learned in a career should be shared with those who will continue to strive for justice on behalf of ordinary citizens. There he and his pro bono staff teach not only trial lawyers for the people but conduct a forum to help lawyers defeat the death penalty.
He is the founder of Lawyers and Advocates for Wyoming, a pro bono law firm representing the indigent. Spence has received numerous awards, including an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Wyoming; in 2008, he received the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the Consumer Attorneys of California (formerly California Trial Lawyers Association.) In 2009 he was inducted into the American Trial Lawyers Hall of Fame, including John Adams and Clarence Darrow. He was honored for law and letters by the American Academy of Achievement. This year the Wyoming State Bar honored Gerry with a 60-year achievement award for his lifetime of service to Wyoming.