On this day in 1977, the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific Railroad filed for bankruptcy. The firm represented the Milwaukee’s shareholders and, after the bankruptcy’s successful conclusion, the reorganized debtor, Heartland Partners. At the time of the Milwaukee’s bankruptcy filing, the line carried 18,000 commuters daily and operated a 9,251-mile system in 17 states, according to the Chicago Tribune. And it was the second Chicago-based railroad to file for bankruptcy within three years; the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad – its largest shareholder also represented by Jenner & Block – filed in 1974.
In 1948, a young associate named John Paul Stevens joined the firm of Poppenhusen, Johnston, Thompson & Raymond. When he and two others left to start their own firm in 1952, name Partner Floyd Thompson reportedly remarked that the “Stevens guy will never amount to anything.” History would prove Thompson wrong. In 1970, President Nixon appointed Stevens as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Five years later, President Ford nominated him to replace retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas. Confirmed 98-0, Stevens was sworn in as an associate justice on this day in 1975.
“I’m deeply moved,” Stevens said after being confirmed. “Like others who have traveled this road before me, I know that the inn that shelters for the night is not the journey’s end. A judge, like a traveler, must be ready for the morrow. I shall constantly strive to be ready for the morrow.”
When he retired in 2010, at age 90, Justice Stevens was the oldest justice then in service and the second-oldest serving justice in the Court’s history. He also retired as the third longest-serving justice in history, spending 34 years and six months on the Court.
A team working with attorneys from Northwestern University Law School’s Bluhm Legal Clinic Center on Wrongful Convictions and Stanford Law School Professor Lawrence Marshall represented Juan Rivera in appealing his third conviction of the 1992 rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl, Holly Staker. Jenner & Block, along with the Center on Wrongful Convictions, represented Mr. Rivera in his third trial. At trial, the defense team proved that DNA evidence excluded Mr. Rivera as the rapist and killer. Despite that evidence, a jury found him guilty and the court sentenced him to natural life in prison without parole. On this day in 2011, a unanimous three-judge panel of the Illinois Appellate Court for the Second District reversed Rivera’s conviction, finding insufficient evidence to support his conviction in light of the DNA evidence excluding him as the perpetrator. According to the Court’s 24-page ruling, the conviction was "unjustified and cannot stand." In its opinion, the court said it sympathized with the Staker family but also concluded that “Mr. Rivera, too, has suffered the nightmare of wrongful incarceration.” Mr. Rivera was released after serving 19 years in prison. In a statement at the time, the firm said it donated more than 12,000 hours of legal work on the trial and appeal and called the ruling a "tremendous victory for Mr. Rivera and a great day for justice in the State of Illinois." The Jenner & Block team on Mr. Rivera’s defense included current Partners Thomas Sullivan, Terri Mascherin and Andrew Vail, with assistance from Associate Daniel Fenske and former Associate Sarah Terman. In 2014, authorities announced that DNA evidence from the case matched a potential suspect in a separate murder.
“This is the beginning of my vindication!” Chicago utility czar Samuel Insull said on this day in 1934 after a jury acquitted him of mail fraud charges related to the collapse of his empire in the aftermath of the Great Depression. It was the “beginning” because, as Insull acknowledged, he faced two other trials. For all three matters, Insull was represented by the Floyd Thompson, the former Illinois Supreme Court judge who joined the firm in 1928. In his closing argument in this, the first case, Thompson argued that Insull was a victim of the public’s wild speculation in 1929, “and when that wild market crashed, it carried away real values as well as false values – the real values these men were trying to protect.” In all three matters, Thompson successfully defended the London-born Insull, who gained fame and power for, among other enterprises, establishing Chicago’s early electric system. The following summer, at age 75, Insull was officially a free man.
On this day in 2005, Jenner & Block opened its New York office. At the time, then-Managing Partner Gregory Gallopoulos said, “We intend to build an even stronger [transactional] practice in New York, the international capital of commerce, finance and industry, while continuing to give our clients here the full benefit of our renowned litigation and transactional practices.” In 2005, the office was home to a core group of about nine partners, including current Partners Paul Jock, Toby Knapp, Richard Levy and Gianni Servodidio. Today, the office at 919 Third Avenue is home to nearly 60 attorneys.
On this day in 2011, the firm was inducted into the Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame, the country’s only known government-sponsored hall of fame that celebrates contributions of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. The firm was honored as a “Friend of the Community.” The GLHF was established in 1991 with the support of the Chicago Commission on Human Relations and then-Mayor Richard M. Daley. Its purpose is to recognize achievements of LGBT Chicagoans and the help they have received from others. In recognizing the firm, the GLHF noted that Jenner & Block “often has represented individuals and organizations in successful precedent-setting cases, besides providing pro bono legal assistance…and financially sponsoring LGBT charities and community organization events. Jenner & Block…has long been a leader in advocating for LGBT communities…in the courtroom and in society. Its work makes the quality of life appreciably better for LGBT individuals in Chicago and the nation.” The induction ceremony took place at the Chicago History Museum and featured remarks by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.