The Scandal of 1969 and the Rise of John Paul Stevens
In 1969, citizen gadfly Sherman Skolnick accused the chief justice and another Illinois Supreme Court justice of accepting valuable bank stock from an influential Chicago lawyer in exchange for deciding an important case in the lawyer's favor. The feverish media coverage that resulted-a scandalous story in its own right, as Manaster reveals-prompted the state supreme court to appoint a special commission to investigate. Within six weeks and on a shoestring budget, the commission gathered a small volunteer staff and revealed the true facts. Stevens, then a relatively unknown Chicago lawyer, served as chief counsel. His work on this investigation would launch him into the public spotlight and onto the bench.
Manaster, who served on the commission, tells the real story of the investigation, detailing the dead ends, tactics, and triumphs. At the heart of the book is the tense courtroom drama that unfolded in July 1969. Manaster expertly traces Stevens's masterful courtroom strategies, and vividly portrays the high-profile personalities involved (almost every member of the Illinois Supreme Court took the stand), as well as the subtleties of judicial corruption. With a reflective foreword by Justice Stevens himself, Manaster's book is both a fascinating chapter of political history and a revealing portrait of the early career of a Supreme Court justice.