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Cindy Sobel represents workers from the 1800s in a mock trial held in conjunction with Chicago Ideas Week. 0

Chicago attorneys revisit the Haymarket Affair

October 12th, 2017

Chicago trial attorneys Cindy Sobel and Adam Hoeflich are gearing up to examine one of Chicago’s most famous legal battles–the Haymarket Affair.

Sobel and Hoeflich will lead the mock jury selection in the case and offer a glimpse at how the criminal justice system worked in 1886 when the trial took place. The Oct. 19 event at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law is being held in conjunction with the Chicago Idea’s Week think-fest.

If you’re not up on your civics, it’s worth understanding the Haymarket Affair as issues in the case remain on the forefront today, says Sobel.

Briefly, a peaceful labor protest to support an eight-hour work week was held May 4, 1886, near Chicago’s Haymarket Square, at the corner of Des Plaines and Randolph streets. The protest turned violent when a bomb was hurled at police. Officers shot into the crowd. Seven policemen and at least four protesters were killed in the bloodshed. The legendary trial saw seven labor activists sentenced to death.

“It was about free speech and workers’ rights. There was a real clash between workers and capitalist society. It’s interesting to see the parallels in today’s political environment,” says Sobel, who represents the labor protesters in this mock trial. “All the defendants were immigrant workers. They were just looking for fair working conditions.”

Hoeflich represents the state of Illinois.

They’re both partners at Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott, a law firm located in the old Cook County Criminal Court building on Hubbard Street. It’s a building full of history. The trial related to the Black Sox Scandal was held there. The musical “Chicago” is based on the events there. And the trial and subsequent hangings related to the Haymarket riot were held there, too.

Others participating in the mock trial: Jeannie Tinkham, an associate, will question potential jurors, and Matthew Brewer, a partner at the firm, will be the judge.

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