On this day in 2013, the firm continued its tradition of leadership of the nation’s premier professional trial organization in North America. Bob Byman was inaugurated as the 64th president of the American College of Trial Lawyers, following in the footsteps of name Partner Albert “Bert” Jenner (1958-59) and Partner and former U.S. Appeals Court Judge Philip Tone (1988-89). On the same day, Terri Mascherin was inaugurated as a fellow, the third woman partner at Jenner & Block to be invited to join the ACTL. “We are proud that Jenner & Block has enjoyed such a long history with the American College of Trial Lawyers,” said then-Managing Partner Susan C. Levy. “The recognition of Bob and Terri by the ACTL is so well deserved. They represent the very best in what this firm has been about for nearly a century: delivering excellence to our clients. They are leaders of this firm and stewards of the legal industry.” Bob has worked at the firm for 44 years, Terri for 30 years.
By the early 1960s, name Partner Albert Jenner had made a name for himself on the national stage. Among other accomplishments, he had served, at age 42, as the youngest president of the Illinois State Bar Association and later served as the eighth president of the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers. He was also a member of the Advisory Committee on Civil Rules, and, in 1962, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote that he was “so pleased” with Bert’s work on the Committee that he reappointed him to a four-year term. The following year, after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, new President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed a commission to “satisfy itself that the truth is known as far as it can be discovered, and to report its findings and conclusions to [President Johnson], to the American people, and to the world.” Chief Justice Warren, the Commission’s chairman, sought Bert’s assistance, appointing him as senior counsel. Bert’s role was to investigate the life and pursuits of the assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald; his chapter was called "Oswald's Background, History, Acquaintances and Motives." Presented to President Johnson on this day in 1964, the Warren Commission’s 889-page report determined that Oswald acted alone when he shot President Kennedy from the Texas Book Depository and that nightclub owner Jack Ruby acted alone when he shot Oswald two days later. Bert told a reporter: “It’s a truly great report, it’s accurate as hell, and we worked like dogs to produce it.”
“The law comes first with him” is how an associate described Albert Jenner in a New York Times profile. The Times’ “Man in the News” feature appeared in January 1974, when Bert was selected to serve as counsel to the Republican minority on the House Judiciary Committee investigating whether to impeach President Nixon over Watergate. Seven months later, Bert had lost favor with the Republicans due to what they considered his “pro-impeachment” stance. On this day in 1974, they voted to “sidetrack” him, replacing him with Sam Garrison. An analysis of the move in The Washington Post explained that “backroom strategists” had waited for the “best time” to oust Bert – and that time came after he was quoted in a Texas newspaper calling for Nixon’s impeachment. According to the Post, the Texas newspaper clipping was posted on the wall of the Republican cloakroom and Illinois Rep. Robert McClory “took the lead in lining up the votes to shove Jenner aside.” The Post’s analysis also observed that Nixon’s strategy had been “to obstruct impeachment and, after it could no longer be delayed, to portray it as a Democratic vendetta against him. Now, with Garrison stepping forth and leading the political revival, the President’s supporters are trying to whip up partisan feelings and make a vote against impeachment a Republican loyalty test.” As it turned out, Nixon resigned 24 days later, just as Bert had previously recommended.
As part of the firm’s centennial year, Jenner & Block hosted a celebration on Wednesday, June 25, at its Chicago office. More than 650 people attended the reception atop the 45th floor at 353 N. Clark St., greeting friends and colleagues in the legal community while mingling amidst scores of exhibits that commemorated the firm’s century of service.
The exhibits across 10 conference rooms included tributes to name partners Albert Jenner and Samuel Block; causes the firm has championed; clients and key matters; diversity and inclusion; government investigations and commissions; international work; name partners throughout firm history; pro bono and community service; and public service and service to the bar.
Posters depicted the firm’s defense of utility magnate Samuel Insull in the mid-1930s; Bert Jenner’s appointment as counsel for the Warren Commission and the House Judiciary Committee’s inquiry into the impeachment of President Richard Nixon; the firm’s representation of MCI in its historic antitrust suit against AT&T; Paul Smith’s winning Supreme Court oral argument in the landmark gay civil rights case Lawrence v. Texas; Tony Valukas’ appointment as examiner in the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy; the firm’s work on the General Motors IPO; and many other matters. In all, the exhibits showcased nearly 230 artifacts – awards, documents, photos – and 18 posters and one interactive “autograph board” on which attorneys listed their pro bono cases through the years.
In addition to approximately 120 Jenner & Block alumni, guests included 61 judges and government representatives, and representatives from 159 companies, 19 nonprofits and 13 universities. Legal Bisnow provided a pictorial essay on the event in its article “Which Firm Just Celebrated Its Centennial?” In addition, Chicago Bar Association President Dan Cotter attended the reception and wrote about it in his President’s blog. Each of the firm’s four offices – Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, DC – is taking part in the 100-year tribute celebration.
Albert Jenner successfully represented the Serbian Eastern Orthodox Diocese of the United States and America in a dispute between the Diocese and a defrocked bishop. The matter dated back to 1964, when the Mother Church, based in Yugoslavia, defrocked Bishop Dionisije Milivojevich, based in Libertyville. Bishop Dionisije sued, seeking to have the courts declare him the “true diocesan bishop” of the undivided diocese. The Illinois Supreme Court sided with the bishop, determining that the Mother Church had violated its own procedures and internal regulations in defrocking him. On this day in 1976, Bert argued on behalf of the Diocese before the U.S. Supreme Court. On June 21, 1976, the firm secured its victory for the Diocese when the Supreme Court reversed the Illinois Supreme Court, holding that its ruling violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments. “For where resolution of the disputes cannot be made without extensive inquiry by civil courts into religious law and polity,” the majority opinion read, “the First and Fourteenth Amendments mandate that civil courts shall not disturb the decisions of the highest ecclesiastical tribunal within a church of hierarchical polity, but must accept such decisions as binding on them, in their application to the religious issues of doctrine or polity before them.”
When the 94th Congress opened on this day in 1975, one of its first moves was to officially abolish the Internal Security Committee, born in 1938 as the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). Charged with investigating alleged Communists, HUAC’s influence peaked during the anti-Communist fervor of the Cold War. By the 1960s, Americans had for a generation witnessed the damage the Committee inflicted on innocent lives. In 1965, the firm began representing a prominent Chicago cardiologist whose long fight against the Committee would endure up to its dying days. Rather than bow to the Committee’s subpoena, Dr. Jeremiah Stamler engaged Albert Jenner and the firm to sue the Committee, seeking to have its mandate declared unconstitutional. After eight and a half years of litigation, the government agreed to drop its indictment against Dr. Stamler for contempt of Congress, and the doctor agreed to drop his civil suit against the Committee. By this time, “the Committee, under pressure from impending judicial review, had sharply curtailed its activities and mandate. A year after the Stamler case ended, the House voted to terminate the Committee altogether,” wrote Tom Sullivan, Chet Kamin and Arthur Sussman in a law review article about the matter.