Government Surveillance

Meanwhile, several members of the office moved in together and set up a living collective at Jeff’s house. There, we were the targets of daily surveillance by the Chicago Police Department Red Squad and particularly one Maurie Daley, who made it a point to aggressively taunt us. We later discovered that the FBI had rented a room across the street from our collective and was filming us and reading our mail. We duly documented the Red Squad surveillance, and even drafted a lawsuit, but didn’t file it because it never seemed like a priority, given all the other work that we were doing. The surveillance of our office did come to the attention of the United States Supreme Court, however, and was referenced in an opinion by Justice Douglas, which noted that the attorneys for a petitioner whose telephone conversations with her attorneys were illegally tapped “include an organization in Chicago known as the ‘Peoples Law Office.’ Peoples is a firm almost exclusively devoted to the criminal defense of ‘militants’ and ‘radicals,’ including Chairman Fred Hampton of the Black Panther Party and Bernadine Dohrn and Marc Rudd of the Weatherman faction of the SDS.” Heutsche v. United States, 414 U.S. 898, 903 (1973) (Douglas, J., dissenting).

Although we did not file a lawsuit challenging the Red Squad’s surveillance of us, several of us were named plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by others in 1974 to stop police spying and disruption. The FBI, the CIA, and Military Intelligence were later added as defendants, and in 1981 many of the named plaintiffs agreed to consent decrees to end the injunctive aspect of the litigation. We felt that the decrees did not go far enough, and that many of the most frequent movement targets were not sufficiently protected, so we intervened in the lawsuit on behalf of those individuals and organizations, and opposed the entry of the decrees, but they were eventually approved over our objections.

History by Section

Early Days
The Murder of Fred Hampton
Government Surveillance
Representing the Panthers in Downstate Illinois
The Hampton Trial
Prisoner Rights Work
Puerto Rican Independence Movement and the Puerto Rican Community
Hampton Appeal
George Jones and Street Files
Representing Demonstrators and Activists
Puerto Rico Work Continues
Police Brutality and Torture
Continuing to Represent Demonstrators
The Attica Civil Case
Continuing Work in Solidarity With Puerto Rico
Fighting the Death Penalty
Sexual Abuse Litigation
Back to the Supreme Court
The 1996 Democratic Convention
Policy and Practice Cases
False Arrests and Convictions
Continuing to Defend Dissent
Continuing the Fight for Justice in the Chicago Police Torture Cases
Criminal Defense
Jail Suicide
Opposing the Criminalization of the LGBTQ Community
People’s Law Office and The National Lawyers Guild