Gerry Spence takes pride in being a country lawyer that stands up for the rights of ordinary people. He has tried and won many nationally known cases, including the Karen Silkwood case, the defense of Randy Weaver at Ruby Ridge, and the defense of Geoffrey Fieger. He has never lost a criminal case. He has not lost a civil case from 1969 to 2010.
Spence graduated cum laude from the University of Wyoming Law School in 1952. The University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in May 1990. He also was honored for law and letters by the American Academy of Achievement.
He spent his early years as a prosecutor and gradually developed an insurance clientele, becoming one of the leading defense attorneys in the intermountain west. After successfully defending insurance companies for many years he “saw the light” and took on a new direction—representing people. No more corporations, insurance companies, banks, or big businesses. Representing people remains his steadfast commitment.
Spence first gained national recognition when he received a $10,500,000 verdict against Kerr-McGee in the Karen Silkwood case on behalf of her children. Later he earned such verdicts as $26,535,000 against Penthouse for Miss Wyoming and successfully defended Ed Cantrell in the famous Rock Springs, Wyoming murder case. Spence received a $52,000,000 verdict against McDonald’s Corporation, the fast-food chain, on behalf of a small, bankrupt, family-owned ice cream company for McDonald’s breach of an oral contract. A Utah medical malpractice verdict of over $4,000,000 established a new standard for nursing care in that state. In 1990 he won acquittal for Imelda Marcos on multiple charges after a three and one-half month trial in New York City. In 1992, he received a record-breaking $15,000,000 verdict for emotional damages incurred by his quadriplegic client because a major insurance company refused to pay the $50,000 policy more than twenty years earlier. Two weeks later he added $18,500,000 in punitive damages to the award. In 1993, Spence successfully defended Randy Weaver on murder, assault, conspiracy, and gun charges in the famous Idaho federal standoff case.
He is the author of eighteen published books, including his visual autobiography, The Lost Frontier, and his revealing looking at our criminal justice system, Police State: How America’s Cops Get Away with Murder.
From June 1995 through September 1996, Spence teamed with television network CNBC to create The Gerry Spence Show, which aired live for half an hour every Friday night. The show discussed legal and social issues that affected the lives of the people of our country.
For many years Spence has lectured at law schools and conducted seminars at various legal organizations around the country. He is the founder and director of the nonprofit Trial Lawyers College where lawyers learn to try cases on behalf of the people. His Trial Lawyers College also conducts a yearly death penalty seminar for public defenders and others defending against the death penalty, and Trial Lawyers College provides four weekly seminars around the country. He has also founded the New Judicial College for judges, an annual retreat for judges at Thunderhead Ranch.
He is also the founder of Lawyers and Advocates for Wyoming (L.A.W.), a nonprofit public interest law firm. Spence served as legal consultant for NBC television covering the O.J. Simpson trial and has hosted and appeared on Larry King Live and the Rivera Show numerous times and numerous other national television shows.
Gerry Spence is the founding member of The Spence Law Firm, LLC, and practices in Jackson Hole, Wyoming with his partners, Kent W. Spence, Robert A. Krause, R. Daniel Fleck, G. Bryan Ulmer, III, Mel Orchard and Emily Rankin.