Trial Minutes for Michael Farmer Trial

Before you get to the article…

On February 23, 2018, my book on the Mau Maus and Sand Street Angels, who were two Brooklyn youth gangs from the 1950s, has been completed.  It took 15 years of research and writing to complete Brooklyn Rumble: Mau Maus, Sand Street Angels, and the End of an Era.  This book is roughly 6″x9″ and has 370 pages and includes a look at the characters in the Mau Maus and the details of a gang killing that happened in February 1959 in front of the iconic Brooklyn Paramount Theater (now Long Island University).  If you want to buy a copy, click here and this link will take you to an online ordering page.


The Judge of the Michael Farmer trial wrote a book about his experience and it is an excellent and fascinating glimpse into the trial from the point of view of the Judge.  In his book he says that it was the most expense trial (at the time) New York ever had with a couple dozen lawyers involved for the defendants and that there were 1,600,000 words in the case file.

Last year when I went to New York City I was able to get a copy of a little over half of the trial minutes which total 5,412 pages.  Unfortunately I ran out of time and couldn’t copy the entire trial minute record.  So one of my goals this year when I went to New York City was to get a copy of the rest of the trial minutes.  I was able to do this so now I have all the trial minutes in my possession for this very important case.  The trial minutes were divided up into books which came in a banker’s box as you can see here below:


The boxes in the box are the trial minutes for the Michael Farmer trial and at the time the picture was taken the pages sitting next to the box were the ones I was working with.

Just for interest’s sake I did a rough calculation to see how many words were in the trial minutes themselves.  A word is five characters, so I counted a couple of lines of the trial minutes and they were about 40 characters per line, with about 24 lines per page with a total of 960 characters per page or 192 words a page.  With 5,412 total pages the trial minutes themselves are just over a million words.  That doesn’t include all the other pages of the case file, so it could very well be 1,600,000 total words.

Either way, it was a huge case; probably the biggest case of the 1950s involving a gang killing.