Melvin M. Belli


MELVIN M. BELLI, 1907-1996; Member of the Bar of California; Considered to be the “King of Torts”; Famed trial lawyer; Teacher and scholar; Wrote Modern Trials; Innovator of demonstrative evidence; Multiple verdicts in excess of a million dollars; Clients are legendary.

Curriculum Vitae

Famed international trial attorney Melvin M. Belli heads the law firm of Melvin M. Belli Sr., which operates law offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Stockton, San Diego, Pacific Grove, Santa Cruz, Santa Ana, Sacramento, California, an in the nations capital-Washington, D.C.

Born July 29 1907, in Sonora, California of a pioneer family, Belli’s forebearers were early California bankers and educators. His grandfather, Henry Mouron, was an educator and a headmaster of some of California’s first schools. Anna Mouron, his grandmother, was California’s first woman druggist. His father Caeser Belli, was a well known banker in the State’s Mother Lode region, and friend to Bank of America’s founder A. P. Gianini.

After graduating from the University of California Boalt School of Law, in 1933, Belli assumed the role of an indigent by working for the Federal Government. Traveling by boxcar he wrote a report on the Depression’s effects on the vagrant population of the United States. His report was used as the basis for transient relief programs throughout the nation.

Belli, admitted to the California Bar in 1933, began his career as the counsel for the Catholic priest of San Quentin Prison. Belli took up the challenging task of defending men already condemned to die. Since that first case, Belli continues to make an impact in both criminal and civil cases.

Melvin M. Belli’s cases have, over the years, drawn media attention. Some of his famous clients include: Jack Ruby, on trial in 1964 in Dallas, for the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald; and the “Angel of Death,” the Nevada nurse accused of murdering patients. Hollywood stars have also called upon Belli’s talents. Stars included notables like Mae West, Errol Flynn, Tony Curtis, and Lenny Bruce. Belli has also represented Martha Mitchell, Lana Turner, and The Rolling Stones. Other of Belli’s clients involved in some of the spectacular and tragic cases that have hit the headlines over the years: The Korean Jetliner disaster; The MGM Grand Hotel fire in Las Vegas; The collapse of the Kansas City Hyatt Walkway; The Bendectin birth defect cases; and the Bhopal/Union Carbide isocyanate gas disaster.

However, Belli is better known for defending the “rights of the individual.” His work in representing victims of personal injury and in raising personal injury awards to a new level has earned him the title “The King Of Torts,” bestowed on him by LIFE Magazine in 1954.

“The Father Of Demonstrative Evidence,” as he is also called, has changed the courtroom with his innovations. Among them include: The concept of the “Adequate Award;” The development of the opening statement; The use of “Day in the Life” films to graphically show the life of a victim; Aerial photography; and the use of economist techniques.

Belli is a founder and former president of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America (ATLA) founder and dean of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers, on the Board of Directors of the Barristers Club, Provost of the Belli Society, and the author of sixtytwo (62) books on civil and criminal trial procedures including the famed five volume “MODERN TRIALS.”

The name of Melvin M. Belli is on the permanent list of this country’s fabled lawyers. At the age of 78 when most men are content with reflecting upon past accomplishments, Melvin M. Belli continues to press toward the challenges of the 1980’s. He is currently involved in cases concerning such modem dilemmas such as computer piracy and cable television rights. Though the times and trials have changed, Melvin Belli still makes history and sets precedents in the courts.


Famed international lawyer Melvin M. Belli heads the law firm of Melvin M. Belli Sr., which operates law offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Santa Ana, Stockton, San Diego, Sacramento, Pacific Grove and Santa Cruz. Belli is widely known as a pioneer and a pacesetter among attorneys. His inventiveness in the courtroom has made him one of the most imitated and influential lawyers in the world. However, above all, Melvin Belli has been blessed with a hunger for excellence and a mind for innovation. These qualities have allowed him to rise to the top of his profession, and have allowed him to bring the law profession to a new level.

Partial List Of Books Written By MELVIN M. BELLI, SR.:

  • Captain Fred Reckenbiel 1949
  • The Voice of Modern Trials 1950
  • The More Adequate Award and the Flying Saucers 1952
  • The More Adequate Award: A Collection of the More Adequate Awards to February 1952
  • The Use of Demonstrative Evidence in Achieving “The Adequate Award” 1952
  • Modem Trials (Five Volumes) 1954
  • Trial and Tort Trends (Four Volumes: 1st Printing) 1954
  • The Modern Trial Lawyer 1956
  • Blood Money: Ready For The Plaintiff 1956
  • Ready For The Plaintiff A Story of Personal Injury Law 1956
  • Modern Trial Law 1957
  • Modern Damages 1959
  • Belli Looks at Life and Law in Japan 1960
  • Trial and Tort Trends, Vol. I 1960
  • Trial and Tort Trends, Vol. II 1960
  • Trial and Tort Trends Vol. III 1960
  • Trial and Tort Trends, Vol. IV 1960
  • Modern Trials Supplement 1961
  • Tort and Medical Yearbook, Vol. I 1961
  • Tort and Medical Yearbook, Vol. II 1961
  • Criminal and Medical Yearbook 1963
  • Belli Looks at Life and Law in Russia 1963
  • Dallas Justice: The Real Story of Jack Ruby and His Trial 1964
  • Jack Ruby: Appellant vs. State of Texas 1965
  • Justice in Dallas 1965
  • Ready for the Plaintiff 1965
  • The Belli Building: San Francisco 1966
  • Trial Tactics 1967
  • The Law Revolt: A Summary of Trends in Modem Criminal and Civil Law 1968
  • The Law Revolution Civil 1968
  • The Law Revolution Criminal 1970
  • Angela: A Revealing Closeup of the Woman and the Trial 1971
  • My Life On Trial 1976
  • The Urologist and The Law 1979
  • The Successful Opening Statement 1981
  • Product Liability Breach on Liability, The Blue Chip of Damages 1981
  • Potpourri on Current Trial Law 1983
  • The Belli Files: Reflections On The Wayward Law 1983
  • Everybody’s Guide To The Law (Published by Harcourt/Brace/Jovanovich) 1986
  • Belli-Krantzler Book of Divorce (Published by St. Martins) 1986
  • Melvin Belli: For Your Malpractice Defense 1986
  • Modern Trials, Vol. I Revised
  • Modern Trials, Vol. II Revised
  • Modern Trials, Vol. III Revised
  • Modern Trials, Vol. IV Revised
  • Modem Trials, Vol. V Revised
  • Classics of International Law, Vol. I
  • Classics of International Law, Vol. II