Retrying Socrates, in front of Judge Posner

by on January 7, 2013 at 2:15 am in History, Law | Permalink

Star litigators in Chicago are preparing to retry a controversial 2,400-year-old free speech case that famously resulted in the death of Socrates, now considered the father of Greek philosophy, when he drank a cup of poisonous hemlock.

Dan Webb of Winston and Strawn and plaintiffs lawyer Robert A. Clifford, a former chair of the ABA Section of Litigation, will represent Socrates at the Jan. 31 proceeding, which is being held as a fundraiser by the National Hellenic Museum in Chicago. The case for the City of Athens will be made by former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, now a partner at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, and Patrick M. Collins of Perkins Coie.

Judge Richard A. Posner of the Chicago-based 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will head a three-judge panel that also includes his federal appeals court colleague William J. Bauer and Cook County Circuit Judge Anna Demacopoulos.

Here is a bit more, and for the pointer I thank John C.A.K.  I suppose Socrates is now in exclusive company with Conrad Black.

1 prior_approval January 7, 2013 at 4:10 am

So, Socrates gets his own free speech zone, with the appropriate chain link fencing?

Or is this just too modern a development ?

‘Free speech zones (also known as First Amendment Zones, Free speech cages, and Protest zones) are areas set aside in public places for political activists to exercise their right of free speech in the United States. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law… abridging… the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The existence of free speech zones is based on U.S. court decisions stipulating that the government may regulate the time, place, and manner—but not content—of expression. A free speech zone is more restrictive than an exclusion zone.

The Supreme Court has developed a four-part analysis to evaluate the constitutionality of time, place and manner (TPM) restrictions. To pass muster under the First Amendment, TPM restrictions must be neutral with respect to content, narrowly drawn, serve a significant government interest, and leave open alternative channels of communication. Application of this four-part analysis varies with the circumstances of each case, and typically requires lower standards for the restriction of obscenity and fighting words.

Free speech zones have been used at a variety of political gatherings. The stated purpose of free speech zones is to protect the safety of those attending the political gathering, or for the safety of the protesters themselves. Critics, however, suggest that such zones are “Orwellian”,[1][2] and that authorities use them in a heavy-handed manner to censor protesters by putting them literally out of sight of the mass media, hence the public, as well as visiting dignitaries. Though authorities generally deny specifically targeting protesters, on a number of occasions, these denials have been contradicted by subsequent court testimony. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed, with various degrees of success and failure, a number of lawsuits on the issue.’

2 Ray Lopez January 7, 2013 at 5:59 am

I detect a Greek surname here: “Cook County Circuit Judge Anna Demacopoulos”

And if he is found guilty? There will be riots in Athens…

3 Rahul January 7, 2013 at 6:21 am

Is Hemlock on the menu?

4 Andrew' January 7, 2013 at 6:43 am

That would clarify things.

5 dearieme January 7, 2013 at 6:50 am

Because it’s obvious that Athens would have been better off as a Common Law jurisdiction.

6 Alex Godofsky January 7, 2013 at 7:03 am

Double jeopardy?

7 Seth C January 7, 2013 at 7:27 am

This was already done in DC in 2008, with Alito presiding.

8 Andrew' January 7, 2013 at 8:02 am

Let’s do it with honey badger presiding. Honey badger is ubiased.

9 Steve January 8, 2013 at 1:10 am

Alito? They probably sent Socrates to Gitmo…

10 jc January 7, 2013 at 10:25 am

Posner’s lambasted the justices for doing this sort of thing before –

11 Ray Lopez January 7, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Good spot, shows what a hypocrite Posner is. “Advised of Judge Posner’s comments, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg laughed.
“He’s an odd person to say that, considering the range of his writings, including ‘Sex and Reason,’ ” said Justice Ginsburg, a regular mock trial participant.”

12 Bill S. January 7, 2013 at 1:36 pm

This is a fundraiser, so it does have some sort of greater social benefit.

13 Mario Rizzo January 7, 2013 at 11:56 pm

On the New York magazine “Approval Matrix” this idea belongs in the quadrant named: Highbrow and Despicable.

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