Friday’s New York Times obituary by Bruce Weber of radical lawyer Leonard Weinglass, described in the Times headline as a “Courtroom Defender Of Radicals and Renegades,” glossed over the radicalism of Weinglass’s notorious clients. The text box gushed: “A man one colleague called ‘our era’s Clarence Darrow.’”
Leonard I. Weinglass, perhaps the nation’s pre-eminent progressive defense lawyer, who represented political renegades, government opponents and notorious criminal defendants in a half century of controversial cases, including the Chicago Seven, the Pentagon Papers and the Hearst kidnapping, died on Wednesday. He was 77 and lived in Manhattan.
Weber applied the usual Times gloss to Weinglass's radical clients, referring to Angela Davis, a prominent Communist Party member who twice ran on the party’s presidential ticket, only as an “activist and educator.” Davis also received the Lenin “Peace Prize” from East Germany in 1979, when that country was a Communist police state.
Over the past 40 years, he represented many other prominent clients, including Angela Davis, the activist and educator who was acquitted of murder, conspiracy and kidnapping charges in the 1970 killing of a California judge, and Amy Carter, the daughter of President Carter, who along with others, including Abbie Hoffman, was arrested during a 1986 protest against the activities of the Central Intelligence Agency at the University of Massachusetts. She was acquitted of trespassing and disorderly conduct charges.