by kris bishop on October 8, 2008

Selections from the Philadelphia Freedom photo section. (Click on photo thumbnail to enlarge.)









Kairys_front_4 “In recollecting a career devoted to fighting for social justice, David Kairys (Law/Temple Univ.) has sifted through hefty files of documents to reconstruct events in and out of court and to re-create conversations with clients, witnesses, judges and other lawyers. The result is a fully fleshed-out memoir of life on the front lines of the civil-rights movement. Beginning as a public defender, the author 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. Through legal research, impressive powers of reasoning and persuasion, plus sheer chutzpah, Kairys carried the day in this case as he would in many future ones. In 1971, with funding from the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee, he and a partner opened a private practice that owed much of its work to, as Kairys puts it, “the brutality and lawlessness of the Philadelphia police.” When a group of Catholic antiwar activists broke into a draft-board office in nearby Camden, N.J., his firm defended the “Camden 28,” a case that drew national attention and revealed that the FBI had provided the tools for the break-in. The Bureau took it on the chin again when Kairys represented a black man in a racial discrimination suit against the FBI. He sued the CIA on behalf of the family of a scientist who died a week after a CIA researcher gave him a dose of LSD secretly mixed in a drink. The book’s drama comes from these high-profile cases, including a free-speech suit brought by Dr. Benjamin Spock that went to the Supreme Court, but the author’s account of how he managed to bring about changes in bail procedures and methods of jury selection are equally absorbing and provide a disturbing picture of the workings of the courts. Easy reading, pleasantly suffused with the idealism and activism of ’60s and ’70s.”

-Kirkus Reviews

Book info here.

“In the current climate of political deception and the trampling of our civil rights, Kairys’s compelling book is a clenched fist, a prayer for social justice and a call to conscience.”

-Steve Lopez, Los Angeles Times columnist and former Philadelphia Inquirer columnist

“David Kairys is one of the grand long-distance runners in the struggle for justice in America. His brilliant legal mind and superb lawyerly skills are legendary. This marvelous book is his gift to us!”

-Cornel West, Professor of Religion and African American Studies, Princeton University, and award-winning author of Race Matters

Philadelphia Freedom is the spellbinding tale of an idealistic young lawyer coming of age in the political cauldron of the 1960s and 1970s. From his immersion in the civil rights movement to his determined court battles to quell criminal violence by Philadelphia police, Kairys recounts how he helped make history in the city of brotherly love.”

-William K. Marimow, Editor and Executive Vice President, Philadelphia Inquirer, and recipient of two Pulitzer Prizes

“With engaging, insider stories of innovative legal strategies of a truly creative lawyer, 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. Philadelphia Freedom reads like a suspense novel and reveals how novel legal and political thinking can and does make a real difference to individuals and to the quality of justice.”

-Martha L. Minow, Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Professor of Law, Harvard University

“David Kairys’s compelling book properly explains the vital role that civil rights attorneys play in our system of justice.”

-Judge John E. Jones III, United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, and presiding judge in the landmark Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District case

David Kairys is Professor of Law at Beasley School of Law, Temple University. He was a full-time civil rights lawyer from 1968 to 1990. For more information, check out Philadelphia Freedom online.

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