Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A memoir written by a Temple Law Professor

Last month Professor David Kairys discussed his new book, Philadelphia Freedom,
Memoir of a Civil Rights Lawyer. The book is Professor Kairys'
personal and inspiring account of his quest for achieving social justice
during the turbulent 1960s and 70s.

Prof. Kairys began as a public defender - and was not yet a member of the
bar - when he took up the cause of James Jiles, an escapee from a chain
gang who was facing extradition to Georgia. Kairys' victory in the
case was only the beginning. In 1971, he and David Rudovsky opened
a private practice that focused on civil rights cases, especially police

When a group of Catholic antiwar activists broke into a draft-board
office in nearby Camden, New Jersey, Kairys defended the “Camden 28,” a
case that drew national attention. He convinced an FBI informant to
testify for the defense that the informant and the FBI provided the
plans, tools, and funding, including groceries, to make the raid
happen. The resulting acquittal inspired Supreme Court justice
William Brennan to describe the trial as “one of the great trials of the
twentieth century.”

Philadelphia Freedom includes many such high-profile cases,
including a free-speech suit brought by Dr. Benjamin Spock that went to
the Supreme Court. The book is earning the praise of the trade
press as well as that of other legal scholars. “With engaging,
insider stories…this book evokes the ebullient spirit of progressive
social change launched in the 1960s and should be read by aspiring and
practicing lawyers as well as anyone interested in American social
history,” says Harvard Law Professor Martha L. Minow.


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