Jenner & Block

The Heart of the Matter Blog

June 2, 2016

Moments in History: Jenner & Block's 100-Year Story

Victory in Witherspoon Case Reforms Jury Selection Process in Capital Cases

US Supreme Court Pro BonoJune marks the 48th anniversary of the firm’s victory on behalf of pro bono client William Witherspoon before the US Supreme Court.  The case would have major implications for how juries are selected in capital cases throughout the nation.  In 1960, a jury sentenced Witherspoon to death.  The jury was selected in a process that permitted the prosecution an unlimited number of challenges for cause with respect to any potential juror who expressed qualms about the death penalty.  As a result, the jury that sentenced Witherspoon to death was composed only of people who had no qualms about capital punishment.  Jenner & Block represented Mr. Witherspoon in a post-conviction review that successfully challenged the constitutionality of this process. 

Please click here to read more about the case.  Click here to read the opinion of the U.S. Supreme Court in Witherspoon.  Click here for a recording of Mr. Jenner’s oral argument presented to the Court.

CATEGORIES: A Jenner, Death Penalty, Moments in History, US Supreme Court

October 1, 2011

A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 1960s

Witherspoon v. Illinois Impacts 350 People on Death Row

US Supreme Court Pro BonoIn this landmark death penalty case, the Jenner & Block team led by Albert E. Jenner, Jr. helped stop a planned state execution of Mr. Witherspoon on constitutional grounds just a few weeks before the sentence was scheduled to be carried out.  Mr. Jenner argued that the jury selection process was unconstitutional and impermissible.  The US Supreme Court agreed.  After this ruling, an estimated 350 people on death row across the United States were re-sentenced.

CATEGORIES: A History of Pro Bono and Public Service, A Jenner, Death Penalty, US Supreme Court

May 1, 2011

A History of Pro Bono and Public Service: 1940s

Albert E. Jenner, youngest president of the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA)

Albert E. Jenner, Jr. joined the firm as an associate in 1935. In 1947 at the age of 40, Mr. Jenner became the youngest president of the ISBA.  He was also president of the American College of Trial Lawyers.   In 1955, Mr. Jenner’s name was added to the firm name, which ultimately became Jenner & Block in 1969.

CATEGORIES: A History of Pro Bono and Public Service, A Jenner, ISBA