Illinois Cases
Clarence Darrow practiced law in Chicago for nearly fifty years. Besides his many famous cases he also participated in many less well-known but interesting cases in Illinois, with the majority of these being in Chicago. This section provides information, documents and photos about some of these less well-known cases from Illinois. Darrow was also influenced by the 1886 Haymarket case and information and material is provided about that case.

Trial Documents

People v. Unger 
Various documents related to the case of August M. Unger, a medical doctor, who concocted a plan with one of his patients, Marie Defenbach, to defraud insurance companies. Unger's plan was that the girl should insure her life for large sums of money and later he would give her a drug which would make her appear desperately ill and lapse into a coma simulating death. After Defenbach was declared dead another body would be secured and quickly cremated. Unger would issue the necessary death certificate and collect the insurance money. But something went very wrong and Defenbach died on August 25, 1900 under suspicious circumstances. Unger, Francis W. Brown, and Frank H. Smiley were arrested and charged with conspiracy to defraud various insurance companies. During the investigation it was discovered that Doctor Unger's brother died in New York in September of 1899 under similar circumstances. Smiley, who was a detective, pled guilty and turned state's evidence. The trial of Unger and Brown began on May 21, 1901. Clarence Darrow defended Brown. The defendants were convicted on June 10, 1901 and given indeterminate sentences. Unger's appeal was denied and he was sentenced to five years in prison. Darrow was able to convince the judge that Brown was less culpable than Unger and with the consent of the state's attorney, the verdict was set aside, and a judgment entered sentencing Brown to pay a fine of $2,000.
Address of Clarence Darrow in the Trial of Arthur Person  Apr, 1920
Clarence Darrow's closing argument to the jury in the trial of Arthur Person. Person was charged with joining an organization that called for the violent overthrow of the government, and was acquitted of this charge. Darrow's argument is followed by the jury instructions.
Argument in Defense of the Communists  Aug, 1920
Clarence Darrow and co-counsel defended twenty members of the Communist Labor party who were charged with violating a recently passed Illinois statute which made it unlawful to advocate the reformation or overthrow by violence or other unlawful means of the representative form of government secured to citizens of the United States and the states. They appealed, and Darrow participated in the appeal before the Supreme Court of Illinois. Their convictions were upheld in People v. Lloyd, 304 Ill. 23, 136 N.E. 505 (1922).


Chicago & Northwestern Railway Company v. Tuite, 44 Ill.App. 535 (Ill.App. 1 Dist. 1892)  Jun, 1892
Clarence Darrow, W. C. Goudy, and A. W. Pulver argued for the appellant Railway Company in this personal injury case. On appeal, a verdict for the appellee was reversed because of erroneous jury instructions, improper admission of a dissenting opinion, and improper exclusion of a different decision.
Crosby v. People, 189 Ill. 298, 59 N.E. 546 (1901)  Feb, 1901
Marjorie Crosby was a widow facing eviction. When deputies came to serve a writ of assistance to evict her, Crosby's 13-year-old adopted son shot and killed a deputy sheriff with a revolver. The trial, which began in April of 1899, was big news in Chicago. Clarence Darrow and William Prentiss, a former judge, defended the Crosbys. Even though she did not shoot the victim, Marjorie Crosby was convicted of manslaughter. The Supreme Court of Illinois held that there was insufficient evidence to sustain a conviction of manslaughter for having aided, abetted, or assisted in the killing. Clarence S. Darrow and William Prentiss, for plaintiff in error.
People v. Belinski, 205 Ill. 564, 69 N.E. 5 (1903)  Dec, 1903
Clarence Darrow and Edgar Lee Masters defended Belinski, a lawyer who was disbarred for falsely representing to his client that he had obtained a divorce for the client by showing him a fictitious divorce decree. The disbarment was upheld in this appeal.
Carlin v. City of Chicago, 177 Ill. App. 89 (1913) 
Clarence Darrow and Francis S. Wilson represented the plaintiff in error in this suit over the wrongful death of six-year-old child.
People v. Bond, 281 Ill. 490 (1917)  Dec, 1917
Isaac Bond was a black man convicted for murdering a white woman and sentenced to life in prison. Clarence Darrow and two other lawyers unsuccessfully appealed his conviction.
People v. Rappaport 364 Ill. 238, 4 N.E.2d 106 Ill. (1936) 
Appeal of 30 year old Joseph Rappaport, the son of a rabbi, who was convicted of murder and sentenced to death for killing a government informant in a narcotics case. Rappaport was represented by Clarence Darrow, William W. Smith, William L. Carlin, and Edward M. Keating in this appeal. The Supreme Court of Illinois affirmed the conviction and sentence. His execution was delayed numerous times by Governor Horner. The day before the latest execution date, Governor Horner announced that he would consider a further reprieve if Rappaport submitted to a polygraph test which Horner placed great faith in. On March 2, 1937, just hours before Rappaport was to be executed, a polygraph machine was taken to his death cell. It was administered by Leonarde Keeler, co-inventor of the polygraph and the first full-time professional polygraph examiner. Keeler was also a friend of Governor Horner. Keeler announced that Rappaport had failed the test and he was executed in the electric chair two hours later.

Government Documents

The Pardoning of Newton C. Dougherty  Mar, 1915
Statement by Illinois Governor Dunne about a pardon for a client of Clarence Darrow.
The Hart Schaffner & Marx Labor Agreement: Being a Compilation and Codification of the Agreements of 1911, 1913 and 1916 and Decisions Rendered by the Board of Arbitration 
In 1910, about 40,000 clothing workers who toiled in Chicago's men's clothing industry went on strike for nineteen weeks. The focus of the strike was Hart, Schaffner and Marx, the largest company that refused to join the Chicago Wholesale Clothiers Association (an organization of large firms). The strike began when several women workers refused to take a cut in pay and walked out. This quickly ignited a large strike. Eventually an agreement was reached by representatives of the workers and Hart, Schaffner and Marx on March 13, 1911. The agreement was a compromise between the United Garment Worker's (UGW) demand for a closed shop and management's demand for an open shop.

The agreement setup an arbitration board to rule on shop grievances. Clarence Darrow represented the workers and Carl Meyer represented the company. Dean John Wigmore of Northwestern Law School was chosen as an impartial chairman but he was unable to serve, leaving Darrow and Meyer to work out the issues between them. Darrow's law partner, William O. Thompson, took his place when Darrow went to Los Angeles to defend the McNamara brothers who were arrested after the bombing of the Los Angeles Times building in October 1910. The clothing workers strike led to the formation in 1914 of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America which was led by Sidney Hillman.

Legal Articles

The Pardoning of the Anarchists: Is Governor Altgeld Liable to Impeachment? by George H. Shibley 
Article critical of Governor Altgeld's pardon of the Haymarket anarchist. Published in volume 5 of The Green Bag.
Current Topics - Albany Law Journal  Oct, 1896
Article responding to Governor Altgeld's criticism of some courts and judges.
The Iroquois Theater Cases 
Two articles from the Illinois Law Review about the Iroquois Theater litigation. One article is very critical about the length of the litigation--"A Flagrant Instance of the Law's Delays"--while the other tries to explain why it has taken this much time--"Another View."


Governor Altgeld's Pardon of the Haymarket Anarchists 
This pamphlet includes a preface by Lucy E. Parsons, whose husband Albert Parsons was executed for the Haymarket bombing.

Magazine Articles

"Bathhouse John" Coughlin Rules a Rich Domain by William A. Salisbury 
This article describes the political success and campaign techniques of Chicago's First Ward Alderman John Coughlin, along with the unsuccessful attempt of David L. Frank to oust Coughlin from office. Coughlin went to great lengths to garner votes and care for his supporters, even providing lodging and food before the election.
Movement to Make Clarence Darrow a Candidate for Mayor 
Discussion of Clarence Darrow's decision not to run for Mayor of Chicago as an independent candidate. Published in The Public.
Public Ownership Party Nominates Clarence Darrow 
Brief announcement that Clarence Darrow had been nominated as a candidate for the Illinois legislature. Published in The Public.
How Chicago is Finding Herself by Ida M. Tarbell  Dec, 1908
This article is about Chicago under Mayor Edward F. Dunne's leadership. It includes references to Clarence Darrow, who quarreled with the mayor and resigned as special traction counsel.
Chicago Husband-Killing and the "New Unwritten Law" by Marianne Constable 
Discusses why so few women who killed their husbands in Chicago between 1870 and 1930 were convicted of murder. It appears that a "new unwritten law" protected many women from being convicted. Also discusses the murder case of Emma Simpson who shot and killed her husband in April 1919 in a crowded Chicago courtroom during alimony proceedings. The couple was separated at the time but Emma Simpson refused to divorce him. She declared that she would be acquitted and stated "the new unwritten law, which does not permit a married man to love another woman, will be my defense." Clarence Darrow defended her and said to the all-male jury: "You've been asked to treat a man and a woman the same - but you can't. No manly man can." The jury found Emma Simpson to be insane and guilty. Published in TriQuarterly no. 124 (2006), 85-96.


Chicago is Quiet Again  Nov, 1903
News account in the San Francisco Call about a 1903 railway strike in Chicago in which Clarence Darrow represented the strikers. Includes a small picture of Darrow.


Chicago's First Half Century 
This 1883 publication describes Chicago's founding and many aspects of the city, including early modes of transportation, commerce, and theater.
Anarchy and Anarchists 
"A History Of The Red Terror And The Social Revolution In America And Europe. Communism, Socialism, And Nihilism In Doctrine And In Deed. The Chicago Haymarket Conspiracy, And The Detection and Trial of the Conspirators." Written by Chicago Police Captain Michael Schaack, who played a prominent role into the investigation of the Haymarket bombing.
Reasons for Pardoning Fielden, Neebe, and Schwab, the So-Called Anarchists, June 26, 1893 
This excerpt from Governor Altgeld's book "Live Questions" explains his justification for pardoning the remaining Haymarket Anarchists.
"Live Questions" by John Peter Altgeld 
John Peter Altgeld became Clarence Darrow's friend and mentor soon after Darrow moved to Chicago. This book contains Altgeld's views on numerous social issues and his reasons for actions he took as governor of Illinois.
The Chicago Martyrs by John P. Altgeld 
This book contains speeches, given by the Haymarket Anarchists in Judge Gary's courtroom, requesting a new trial. It also contains Governor Altgeld's reasons for pardoning the three who were not executed.
"Lest We Forget" Chicago's Awful Theater Horror, By the Survivors and Rescuers 
Account of the Iroquois Theater fire on December 30, 1903 which killed 602 people. Most the victims were women and children. Numerous safety violations were uncovered after the tragedy. Clarence Darrow worked behind the scenes for several of the defendants who faced criminal charges. No one was ever convicted and because the company was insolvent the victims' families were not compensated.
Chicago Traction: A History Legislative and Political by Samuel Wilbur Norton 
Norton discusses a political and legal battle over municipal ownership of the Chicago street car (traction) system. Several references are made to Clarence Darrow. At one point, Darrow and another attorney were appointed special counsel on traction for the city of Chicago.
People vs. Spies et al.: The Chicago Anarchist Case 
Chapter from Decisive Battles of the Law covering the Haymarket case from a book about eight important cases. Clarence Darrow closely followed the Haymarket case.
50 - 50 Fighting Chicago's Crime Trusts by Henry B. Chamberlin 
The first chapter of this book called "Arson Trust" describes a major arson investigation in Chicago. Clarence Darrow defended at least one of the defendants arrested for arson after this investigation. In 1912 Paul and Edward Covitz, two brothers who were also woolen merchants, approached Joseph Clarke, a public insurance adjuster, who was also part of a nationwide arson ring to torch their business. Clarke arranged this but the fire that was set on the night of November 5, 1912 was obviously arson and the three were arrested and indicted by a Cook County grand jury in April 1913 for arson and burning to defraud. The arsonist was also arrested. Just three days after he was arrested, Clarke tried to bribe one of the assistant state's attorneys to quash the proceedings before the grand jury. Clarke was arrested for this bribery attempt. Darrow most likely defended Clarke because Darrow is named as counsel for Clarke on his appeal. During the trial, evidence of Clarke's bribery attempt was ruled admissible to show that Clarke was in the conspiracy with the Covitz brothers and equally guilty with them of causing the fire. The defendants were convicted by a jury in August and sentenced to the Joliet penitentiary. Their convictions were upheld by the Supreme Court of Illinois in People v. Covitz, 262 Ill. 514, 104 N.E. 887 (Ill. 1914).
Decision on the Freedom of the Press 
Chapter from the book "Dunne: Judge, Mayor, Governor" which discusses a case in which Clarence Darrow and others defended two editors from the Chicago American newspaper facing a contempt of court order by Judge Hanecy.
The Clothing Workers of Chicago: 1910-1922 
Published by the Chicago Joint Board, Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, the book makes several references to Clarence Darrow's work on the Hart, Schaffner and Marx labor agreement.
The Negro in Chicago: A Study of Race Relations and a Race Riot 
Report on the Chicago Race Riot of 1919 in which fifteen whites and twenty-three blacks were killed in July and August 1919. Written by the Chicago Commission on Race Relations. A reference is made to Clarence Darrow being an honorary member of the Chicago Free Thought Educational Society on p. 541.
Tennes As A Vice Chief 
Chapter from the Illinois Crime Survey, a massive report of over 1100 pages, published in 1929. This chapter titled "Tennes As A Vice Chief" is about a violent Chicago gangster named Jacob "Mont" Tennes. In 1907 Tennes had acquired a very lucrative business when he took over a wire service that transmitted the results of horse races that bookies needed. Tennes demanded Illinois bookies to pay him half of their daily take and there were more than 700 bookies in just Chicago. But other gangsters wanted in on such a profitable enterprise and Tennes' home was bombed 6 times from July to September 1907. Mont Tennes was so successful that his activities prompted Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis of the United States District Court, Northern District of Illinois, to launch an investigation. Judge Landis issued subpoenas and also requested the cooperation of Illinois Bell Telephone in the investigation. On October 2, 1916, Tennes, without a subpoena, was surrendered by his special counsel, Clarence Darrow. Tennes took Darrow's advice and refused to answer incriminating questions. But others who knew of Tennes operations reluctantly testified that the General News Bureau, with Tennes owning 65%, made $20,000 to $25,000 per month profit but kept absolutely no paperwork of its business. But Judge Landis ended the investigation when he concluded local gambling was not within the jurisdiction of the federal courts and the interstate transmission of sporting news was not a crime. In 1921, Judge Landis was appointed to be the first commissioner of Major League Baseball and he served as commissioner until 1944.


Edgar Lee Masters 
1899 bio of Edgar Lee Masters who would become Clarence Darrow's law partner in 1903. Published in The Bench and Bar of Illinois.
The Chicago Traction Question by Clarence S. Darrow 
Darrow advocates municipal control of the street railways in Chicago in this article. Vol. XII, The International Quarterly (1905-1906).
Proceedings of the Illinois State Bar Association 
Thirtieth Annual Meeting, Chicago, July 12 and 13, 1906. Several references are made to Clarence Darrow. In particular, Darrow discussed his views in support of Public Ownership.
Elbridge Hanecy 
Short bio of Elbridge Hanecy. In 1901, Clarence Darrow, John P. Altgeld and co-counsel represented several editors of the Chicago American newspaper after they were jailed for contempt of court by Judge Hanecy who was angry because the paper criticized a court decision he made.
Edgar Lee Masters 
Short bio of Edgar Lee Masters published in Courts and Lawyers of Illinois.
Experience of Hart, Schaffner and Marx with Collective Bargaining by Earl Dean Howard 
Howard was the Director of Labor for Hart, Schaffner and Marx and Professor of Economics at Northwestern University.
Clarence Darrow bio in the Bench and Bar of Illinois 
Short bio and picture of Clarence Darrow published in 1920.
Edward Brundage 
Short bio of Edward Brundage, Attorney General of Illinois. Clarence Darrow faced Brundage in court including during his defense of Isaac Bond, a black man convicted of murdering a white women.
Hart Schaffner & Marx Labor Agreement: Industrial Law in the Clothing Industry 
Labor agreement following a nineteen-week strike of workers in the Chicago mens' clothing industry in 1910. The agreement setup an arbitration board to rule on shop grievances. Clarence Darrow represented the workers. The agreement, signed by representatives of the workers and Hart, Schaffner and Marx was a compromise between the United Garment Workers (UGW) demand for a closed shop and management's demand for an open shop.
William L. Carlin bio in the Bench and Bar of Illinois 
William Carlin practiced law with Clarence Darrow and Peter Sissman.

Photos - Key Figures