ILLINOIS JUSTICE: The Scandal of 1969 and the Rise of John Paul Stevens

Kenneth A. Manaster, Author, Justice Stevens, Foreword by . Univ. of Chicago $30 (317p) ISBN 978-0-226-50243-4

In the hot summer of 1969, two judges from the Illinois State Supreme Court were accused of accepting gifts in exchange for a favorable verdict in a pending case. For the special commission set up to look into the charges, the chief investigator was a relatively unknown attorney named John Paul Stevens. As Manaster demonstrates in this well-researched (though overly lawyerly) account of the scandal, the case made Stevens famous and eventually propelled him all the way toward the U.S. Supreme Court. Manaster, a then-novice lawyer who worked on the commission, meticulously recounts both the unfolding of the scandal in the press and Stevens's probe. He then guides the reader through the many ins and outs of Stevens's arguments in the public hearings (ultimately, Stevens proved misconduct and both judges resigned). Unfortunately, this is dry material mainly of interest to legal scholars and historians. Manaster does provide some drama, as when Stevens forces one of the judges to confess that he used his influence to try and enroll his son in the National Guard and keep him out of Vietnam. But moments like this are rare in a book that reads too much like a summary of newspaper articles and court transcripts, instead of the compelling first-person narrative it could have been. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the book is its implicit criticism of Kenneth Starr's investigation of Bill Clinton; both Manaster and Stevens himself (in an enlightening foreword) make stark comparisons between the two cases. (Manaster says that Stevens ran a short-term, narrowly focused, and bipartisan investigation, in contrast to Starr). 20 b&w photos not seen by PW. (Sept)

Reviewed on: 07/30/2001
Release date: 09/01/2001
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