The Court of Last Resort

The Court of Last Resort is an American television dramatized court show which aired October 4, 1957 – April 11, 1958, on NBC. It was co-produced by Erle Stanley Gardner's Paisano Productions, which also brought forth the long-running hit CBS-TV law series, Perry Mason. Its approach to dealing with potential miscarriages of justice in an entirely extra-judicial format was adopted by the BBC series Rough Justice in the 1980s.

The Court of Last Resort
Erle Stanley Gardner's true-crime column and Edgar Award-winning 1952 book inspired the NBC TV series
GenreDramatized court show
Created byErle Stanley Gardner
Harry Steeger
Directed byTom Gries
Reginald Le Borg
StarringRobert H. Harris
Carleton Young
S. John Launer
Lyle Bettger
Theme music composerFred Steiner
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes26
Executive producer(s)Jules C. Goldstone
Producer(s)Elliott Lewis
Production location(s)Paisano Productions
California, United States
Editor(s)Sherman Todd
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time2224 minutes
Production company(s)Walden Productions, in association with Paisano Productions
DistributorABC Films
Original networkNBC
Picture formatBlack-and-white
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseOctober 4, 1957 (1957-10-04) 
April 11, 1958 (1958-04-11)


The concept for The Court of Last Resort was developed from a popular true crime column of the same name. Written by lawyer-turned-author Erle Stanley Gardner, the column appeared in the monthly magazine Argosy for ten years beginning in September 1948.[1] Gardner enlisted assistance from police, private detectives, and other professional experts to examine the cases of dozens of convicts who maintained their innocence long after their appeals were exhausted.[1]

The TV show centers on seven attorneys who take on the cases of wrongly accused or unjustly convicted defendants. Episodes dramatized various cases investigated by the Court from its inception through "the present". The members of the Court were portrayed by actors during the episode, but the actual members often appeared at the conclusion of the program, with one of them reflecting on the case that had just been dramatized.

The series aired October 4, 1957 – April 11, 1958, on NBC[2]:336 at 8 p.m. EST on Fridays[3] following Saber of London. It was rebroadcast on ABC during the 1959–60 season at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays.[3]

Principal cast

Robert H. HarrisRaymond Schindler
Carleton YoungHarry Steeger
S. John LaunerMarshall Houts
John MaxwellAlex Gregory
Robert J. AndersonPark Street Jr
Lyle BettgerSam Larsen
Paul BirchErle Stanley Gardner
Charles MeredithDr. LeMoyne Snyder

Episode list

Episode #Episode titleOriginal airdate
1-1"The Gordon Wallace Case" (pilot)October 4, 1957
1-2"The Tomas Mendoza Case"October 11, 1957
1-3"The Forbes-Carroll Case"October 18, 1957
1-4"The Wesley Ferguson Case"October 25, 1957
1-5"The George Zaccho Case"November 1, 1957
1-6"The Karl Hooft Case"November 8, 1957
1-7"The Conrad Murray Case"November 15, 1957
1-8"The Darlene Fitzgerald Case"November 22, 1957
1-9"The James Dawson Case"November 29, 1957
1-10"The Clarence Redding Case"December 6, 1957
1-11"The Jim Thomson Case"December 13, 1957
1-12"The John Smith Case"December 20, 1957
1-13"The Westover Case"January 3, 1958
1-14"The Arnold McHugh Case"January 10, 1958
1-15"The Steve Hrdlika Case"January 24, 1958
1-16"The Phillip Huston Case"January 31, 1958
1-17"The Peter Stevens Case"February 7, 1958
1-18"The Lester Arnold Case"February 14, 1958
1-19"The Frank Clark Case"February 21, 1958
1-20"The Jacob Loveless Case"February 28, 1958
1-21"The Joe Credo Case"March 7, 1958
1-22"The Stephen Lowell Case"March 14, 1958
1-23"The Mary Morales Case"March 21, 1958
1-24"The Joel Sheldon Case"March 28, 1958
1-25"The Todd-Loomis Case"April 4, 1958
1-26"The Allen Cutler Case"April 11, 1958


The Court of Last Resort's extra-judicial approach to dealing with potential miscarriages of justice was adopted by the BBC series Rough Justice in the 1980s.


  1. Schulz, Kathryn (January 25, 2016). "Dead Certainty". The New Yorker. Condé Nast: 60. Retrieved February 17, 2016.
  2. Hughes, Dorothy B. (1978). Erle Stanley Gardner: The Case of the Real Perry Mason. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc. ISBN 0-688-03282-6.
  3. "The Court of Last Resort (1957–58)". Classic TV Archive. Retrieved 2015-07-29.
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