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Leonard Irving Weinglass Edit Profile

Leonard Irving Weinglass, American lawyer. Bar: New Jersey 1959. Recipient Clarence Darrow Foundation award, 1977, Humanitarian award, First Unitarian Church Los Angeles, 1980, Outstanding Achievement award, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, 1994, Thurgood Marshall award., Bar Association City of New York.


Weinglass, Leonard Irving was born on August 27, 1933 in Belleville, New Jersey, United States. Son of Sol and Clara (Schwartz) Weinglass.


Weinglass graduated from Yale Law School in 1958, then served as a Captain Judge Advocate in the United States Air Force from 1959 to 1961.


He was admitted to the bar in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and California. He taught criminal trial advocacy at the University of Southern California Law School from 1974 to 1976, and at the Peoples College of Law, in Los Angeles, California from 1974 to 1975. Weinglass championed a number of liberal and radical causes during the counterculture era.

An expert in constitutional law, he served as co-chairman of the international committee of the National Lawyers Guild. Along with attorney William Kunstler, Weinglass represented the Chicago 7 in their 1968 trial. He also participated in the defense of Daniel Ellsberg and Anthony Russo, who were charged with leaking the Pentagon Papers and whose trial ended in a dismissal of all charges.

He was the lead defense attorney for Mumia Abu-Jamal for several years. In 1995, he authored a book about Abu-Jamal's case entitled Race for Justice: Mumia Abu Jamal's Fight Against the Penalty. In 1972, Weinglass took on the defense of John Sinclair, Chairman of the White Panther Party in Detroit, Michigan.

The case became United States v. U.S. District Court, 407 U.S. 297 (1972) on appeal to the United States Supreme Court, a landmark decision prohibiting the government's use of electronic surveillance without a warrant. Weinglass was the lead appellate attorney for the Cuban Five from 2002 until his death in 2011.

Up until the last year of his life, Weinglass continued to take on cases. He saw no reason to stop: "the typical call I get is the one that starts by saying 'You are the fifth attorney we've called'. Then I get interested." Leonard Weinglass died on March 23, 2011, aged 78, from pancreatic cancer, in New York City.


Weinglass defended Kathy Boudin in the Brink's robbery (1981) In 1985, Weinglass successfully defended Stephen Bingham, an attorney accused of smuggling a handgun to George Jackson in San Quentin Prison setting off an escape attempt that resulted in the death of Jackson, two other inmates, and three prison guards.


Served with United States Air Force, 1951-1961. Member National Lawyers Guild, California Bar Association, California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (board governors from 1976), National Association Criminal Defense Lawyers, Californians for Economic Democracy, Phi Beta Kappa.